The Ballad of Betzy
A cautionary tale
Very, very important, Mateo.
Reminds me of a story. There once was a writer on Quora, a young man with a traditionally progressive education living in a traditionally liberal enclave on the US Eastern Seaboard.
This young man was a cheerful, happy fellow. Told a good joke. Amused a lot of people. Developed something of a following as a witty, self-effacing bon vivant. Then he went away to school. He spent a year and more under the tutelage of conservative religious figures who taught him a different way of thinking.
He began espousing more and more conservative, dare I say stingy, points of view in his writing. I didn’t mind that he disagreed with me politically. I read him because he was a nice young man and he amused me.
Only he stopped being nice.
He stopped being amusing.
He started sounding bitter.
He explained it all one day. “Liberals,” he told us, don’t really care about other people, they just pretend to care in order to advance a personal quest for power and fulfillment.
Furthermore, he explained, he’d learned from his religious leaders that no humans truly care about others. Conservatives are right, he said, to recognize that self interest is the only driving force that actually matters in human society, and that religion is useful for reigning in our worst, most basic impulses.
Talk about a fundamental divide on what it means to live in society!
I made a couple attempts to explain to him that some people (like me) actually do sincerely care about others. Betzy wasn’t budging, though.
He remains bitter, conservative, and conservatively religious even now. He lost most of his Quora following, though. Bitter conservatives aren’t very pleasant to read.
So, there’s that.