Over the years, I have observed quite a few aspects of the Left’s thought processes that are, to be polite, rather questionable. Whichever label you may choose to use—leftist, progressive, socialist, etc.—those of a collectivist mindset share most if not all of the thinking expressed in this short list:
- They spend more time promoting dependency than they do encouraging self-reliance.
- They think intentions matter far more than actual results.
- They lump people into groups and assign them fictitious rights.
- They learn little or nothing from history or economics.
- They think emotions, slogans and bumper-stickers are deeper than reason and logic.
- They respect property if it’s theirs, but not if it’s yours.
- They’d rather shut you up than engage you in serious debate.
- They think a welfare check is an entitlement, but a paycheck is not.
- When their policies flop, they assume no responsibility and demand more of the same.
- They dislike business less because they have sound arguments against it and more because they have no idea how to start or run one themselves.
- They criticize people and companies for not paying more in taxes than they are legally required to, yet never make any “donations” to government themselves beyond their own legal tax liability.
- They are angry most of the time, have no sense of humor, find victims under every bed and can’t even tell a joke that’s reasonably funny.
- They appeal to the worst in us by emphasizing racial divisions, pitting class against class and buying votes with other people’s money.
- They rarely show gratitude and seem too angry to be thankful for anything. They don’t count their blessings, to use a Biblical phrase; instead, they count the blessings of those they envy.
Let’s take a closer look at that last one. Why does the Left seem so constantly aggrieved, so endlessly indignant, so monotonously enraged when there is so much in the world to be grateful for?
The English philosopher and literary critic G. K. Chesterton once said, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
Think about that, especially Chesterton’s use of the word “wonder.” It means “awe” or “amazement.” The least thankful people tend to be those who are rarely awed or amazed, in spite of the extraordinary beauty, gifts and achievements that envelope us.
A shortage of “wonder” is a source of considerable error and unhappiness in the world. What should astonish us all, some take for granted or even expect as an entitlement.
We’re moved by great music. We enjoy an endless stream of labor-saving, life-enriching inventions. We’re surrounded by abundance in markets for everything from food to shoes to books. We travel in hours to distances that required a month of discomfort of our recent ancestors.
In America, life expectancy at age 60 is up by about eight years since 1900, while life expectancy at birth has increased by an incredible 30 years. The top three causes of death in 1900 were pneumonia, tuberculosis and diarrhea. Today, we live healthier lives and long enough to die mainly from illnesses (like heart disease and cancer) that are degenerative, aging-related problems.
Technology, communications and transportation have all progressed so much in the last century that hardly a library in the world could document the stunning accomplishments. I still marvel every day that I can call a friend in China from my car or find the nearest coffee shop with an “app” on my iPhone. I’m in awe every time I take a coast-to-coast flight, while the unhappy guy next to me complains that the flight attendant doesn’t have any ketchup for his omelet.
None of these things that should inspire wonderment were inevitable, automatic or guaranteed. Almost all of them come our way by incentive, self-interest and the profit motive—from people who gift their creativity to us not because they are ordered to, but because of the reward and sense of accomplishment they derive when they do. Some see this and are amazed and grateful, happy and inspired. Others see it and are envious and unappreciative, angry and demanding. Which are you? The answer may reveal whether you’re a maker or a taker, a person who will leave the Earth a better place or a place that will regret you were ever here.
We should be thankful that in free societies especially, we have so many things to be amazed by and to be thankful for. The Left should pause, take a deep breath, stop assuming everybody is a victim of somebody else, and just say THANKS!