I struggle with expressing myself. I know that sounds silly coming from me, but I actually do temper what I say around unfamiliar people. I am not a provocateur or rebel rouser. I have strong convictions and I stand on the side of right and wrong and accountability. In my world, everyone has to be accountable for their actions. Period. But I don't wield my convictions like a hammer. When appropriate, like within my family, I sometimes pull rank. But generally, I believe in live and let live.
I am also not a wilting rose. I am not shy, when involved in discussion, I display my passion for freedom and justice. But I have many friends that point out my tendency to over-simplify moral dilemmas. It seems their position is to find escape routes for people who make serious mistakes (breaking the law or personal promises). I often hear them refer to "gray areas'. I know we all make mistakes, and sometimes we all hurt others feelings, disregard commitments and break our promises, and that sometimes life demands we make hard decisions.
I get that. But it is necessary in a civilized society to draw certain lines in the sand. It is the nature of civilization to organize around accepted guidelines for citizen behavior. Anything other than that is anarchy. That is why we have judges and juries. We mitigate crimes and punishment is handed out according to what society thinks will properly punish bad behavior and also deter it. It starts with tiny children being admonished for not paying attention or ignoring mommy and daddy's rules. It goes up the ladder from there to school, to work, to community and to nation.
We can, and do, have ongoing discussions about crime and punishment, and how society and our culture changes, so we all have to adjust too. But it doesn't change the fact that there are certain limits to our choices, precisely because we impose them on ourselves. The most important things in life are the aspirations we have and how we make demands on our own consciences. For example, I believe abortion is murder. In my mind, ending the heartbeat of a human being on purpose, unless it is necessary to save the life of the mother, is unforgivable. I rarely engage in useless arguing with people who believe abortion is a right. I just think it is a mountain I cannot climb to change the mind of someone who has a strength of conviction I cannot overcome.
I would rather try to change the mind of someone with an open mind. Would I support using the legal system to punish women who have abortions? Never. In my mind it is the actions of the medical professional that should be held responsible, because that person is breaking two oaths: First, "do no harm" to the person or in the case of a pregnant woman, the 'persons' they are responsible for. The only way any physician can justify killing a fetus is to previously convince themselves that a fetus is nothing more than an unviable tissue mass and an appendage to their patient, the mother. And secondly, they are also breaking a promise to themselves, and that is to "tell the truth'' to patients, as painful as it may be. If a doctor hasn't made that promise to themselves, they are not qualified to be a medical practitioner.
Also, I believe there are dual responsibilities involved with 'unwanted' pregnancies. The male partner must accept responsibility too. He knows what causes pregnancy so why should he get a pass? In fact, he is usually the instigator, the one that ignores the seriousness of sexual activity. When a minor obtains liquor from an adult and then gets into a serious accident, we hold the adult responsible. How is it any different when a man gets a woman pregnant?
They say character is what you do when nobody's looking. But that ignores the fact that we are always looking at ourselves. There is a witness to everything we do. I always have to answer to myself. That explains why I call myself a conservative. I believe it is up to me to exercise self control, restraint and discipline. I do not expect society to be my babysitter. I am a grown up and what I do has consequences and I am prepared to accept those consequences.