Ever since my youth, when I began to define my moral, ethical, and political philosophies, there has been an aspect of conservatism that I’ve never understood and have yet to hear a reasonable, rational explanation in its defense. It is, in essence, a fallacy and a blatant refusal to accept the reality of life.

The aspect of conservatism to which I am referring is the notion of adhering to tradition, of keeping things back, of holding on to “the way things were.”

**NEWSFLASH** – There is but one constant throughout history, and that is Change.

I cannot think of a single incidence in history where any attempt, by any entity, at holding firmly to a traditional practice, belief, or ideology succeeded in keeping change at bay forever. It may take longer, it may be more difficult or even violent in process, but in the end change always occurs, whether those in power like it or not.

Nonetheless, many conservatives are quick to include reminiscent themes in their rhetoric such as “traditional families,” “traditional values,” and “back when I was growing up.” They reflect back to how life used to be, drawing images of auld lang syne in hopes of appealing to our sense of nostalgia and perhaps bringing a wistful tear to our eye.

Now don’t misread me, I have quite an affinity for reminiscence. And I can’t help but think of fond memories, replete in their sepia tones, full of laughter and contentment, remembering a time that seemed much simpler, happier, better. Being gifted and cursed with a semi-photographic memory I am frequently haunted by the way things used to be. Yes, I often miss those times. Yes, I long to have them again, perhaps so that I might enjoy them more the second time, because I wasn’t paying enough attention first time around.

However, I am also aware that these memories are but segments, cross-sections of everything that really happened, and that the fondest of my memories were cherry picked from a tree full of not-so-memorable and perhaps rotten fruit.

The same is true for our history as a nation and a species. We can cherry pick our past and come up with some real gems to look back on and feel good about. My grandparents frequently spoke of the 50’s as a time of peace, prosperity, and American pride. However there are several million African Americans who would likely recall different, and considerably more horrific memories of the same period; there are several hundred thousand veterans of the Korean War, and the families of over 50,000 of them, whose memories are pocked by the blood of their friends and the inconsolable grief of loved ones dying in a cold, foreign land.

In the end, for every person who can reflect back on a more glorious and prosperous time, there is another who can recall the same time with not-so-generous thoughts. This is the truth of history and the impetus behind our ongoing subservience to Change.

This sobering thought is enough to turn my mind’s eye away from a romanticized past and instead focus on the issues and problems and possibilities that most assuredly await us in the future. I do this because, after all, we are not what we were, nor what we will become.
Do you look like you did 20 years ago?
Does your car? Or the street you live on?
Do our problems now remind you of those that troubled us then?
Do the solutions?

To clarify my point I will cite an example currently in national debate, homosexuality and marriage.

Back and forth, back and forth have we gone on this issue. This state legalizes it, that state bans it. The legalization is voted down, the ban is overturned. Constitutional amendments are added, judges are removed. Lunacy.

The defense from homosexuals and the left has remained consistent and simple: they’re people, they’re in love, they’re happy, they want to get married.

Meanwhile, the arguments from conservatives, evangelicals, and bigots have changed over time becoming increasingly more hateful and ludicrous. In the end coming down to the simple fact that “these people” don’t agree with what “those people” do even though it doesn’t affect them, and they don’t want “those people” to be treated equally. There’s no getting around it; that is the consistent basis of their arguments.

But despite the money-hate machine that keeps orchestrating the “protection of traditional marriage,” and the constitutional amendments, and the rebuke towards well-reasoned justices, here’s the shining light: public opinion is turning, and not gradually. Just one year ago, 53% of Americans were opposed to same-sex marriage. This year? 53% support it. But more importantly, note this: 70% of people ages 18 to 34 are in favor, and that is a staggering statistic. Despite all of the money and hate-speech and traditionalist values, generationally same-sex marriage is winning.

Remember, the battle to ban the sale of alcohol was long and arduous. Knowing how much Americans love their drink, you can bet it was even less popular than gay marriage. They passed the amendment and it reigned for 13 years. Finally, Americans’ overwhelming public opinion said, “Enough!” and the amendment was repealed.

Homosexuality isn’t going away. And as more and more young people are exposed to (and hopefully accept) the lifestyles of their friends, family members, and colleagues, that number is only going to grow. As the conservative traditionalism of “The Greatest Generation” and the Baby-Boomers dwindles, those numbers will cease to be the “young” demographic and will begin to be THE demographic.

In other words, no matter what constitutional amendments are added around the country, nor what judges are removed, nor what traditions you rely on, legalization of same-sex marriage will become the law of the land.

Despite the desperate efforts of those who would stand in its way, Change happens. There is no getting around it.

So the question I pose to conservatives regarding this stagnating aspect of their philosophy is, why bother? Do you think that with unchecked ire and a 50% +1 majority you will somehow buck the trend of thousands of years of recorded human history? There are great ideas in conservatism, ideas worth examining and discussing, why waste your money and breath and political capital standing in the way of what will inevitably come? By courting the simple minds who gullibly buy in to your promise of a return to happier days, you shun those who might otherwise be interested in hearing your ideas, considering them, and perhaps even believing in them.

Conservatism doesn’t have to be anchored to the bedrock of yesterday, especially when we’re drowning in the flood tide of tomorrow. Please stop looking to the past for the foundations of your platform and rest your gaze on the future; there are some of us who might be entreated to listen.

“Keep alive the love inside forever, only Change remains the same.”
                                                                                   –       Larry Myer