Socialists and Conservatives: How the Twain Can Meet

Could we all do a little more to help restoration efforts after Sandy?


Last night a bright light, sort of like an emergency flashlight, shone into the darkened recesses of my mind. I was driving home after several of my family members engaged in a stress and storm-induced blow-up.  The incident occurred after too many family members had been brought together for too long, in the only familial home with post-Sandy electricity. 

The argument was about politics, of all things, and included jabs at conservatism, liberalism, socialism, and communism.  My family members hold a wide variety of ideologies, from one extreme to another.  Under stress, the conversation can move into dangerous territories.

Discussing politics can ignite a potent explosive in the best of circumstances.  Add discomfort, irritability over the loss of power, rotting food in freezers, and not enough hot water for showers, and the situation could easily explode. 

My father sat and watched Fox News while his wife insisted that she would vote for anyone, including me, over Obama.  My father, who is the Archie Bunker type (if you remember the show), thinks all Democrats are meat heads and socialists.

I reminded him that Christ, in fact all spiritual leaders including Buddha, Krishna, Ghandi, etc., were all pretty much socialists in that they called for putting others before themselves and taking care of others.  That led to him calling me a socialist and my sister-in-law a communist, and when I could take it no longer, I walked out into the dark.  Driving home from New York, past mile long gas lines, and almost hitting a tree that blocked one lane, I pondered the whole socialism thing.

I am not very political. In fact, I avoid the election conversations like the plague. I have decided not to vote again until the Dalai Lama runs for office.  That’s right.  That’s the party I will willingly join.  The Peace Party. 

Driving home through the wreckage of Sandy, I imagined the billions and billions of dollars the restoration is going to cost.  After last year’s two storms, I wonder where all this money will come from, how much the towns and state and the federal government will have to shell out to restore the area before next year’s doozy blows in.  Seriously, what if this is the trend in weather?  

I had an idea based on all of the -isms thrown about that night.  I call it Cooperativism.  It’s kind of a voluntary communal way of life that allows people to maintain their capitalist lifestyle while giving back in spades. 

Here’s how it would work.  With so many people out of work right now, many of them are relying on tax dollars to keep their homes and families afloat. There are people who resent them.

So how about this?  How about all of those folks who don’t have jobs, but are being paid by the government anyway, get out and help those line workers and tree trimmers?  Those guys could surely use a hand, and think how much it would cut the expenses of the town if even those who couldn’t get to work because the roads were blocked, got out and helped clear the roads?

I think back a century or two and imagine that is exactly how it used to be done.  Barn raisings. Quiltings. Communities getting together and forging progress for the good of their own community.

You know, I think there is something to this, and while it might be too late for this fall’s big storm, I strongly suspect that there will be plenty of opportunities to put this idea into practice.  Think about it.  Voluntary Cooperativism. Just like the country's forefathers and mothers did.  Would you do it?  I would. 

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