Across the Internet today, bloggers are uniting for human rights. With that in mind, I'd like to focus on the conservative perspective of "compassion."
Despite the troubles Americans are dealing with thanks to the ever-softening economy, private donations to international human rights organizations are higher than ever. In 2004, tsunami reconstruction efforts were bolstered largely by private donations from American citizens. This is the very definition of compassion.
Following the Bush Administration's failure with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was mostly private donations and hands-on help that proved vital to the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans and other areas affected by the tragedy. Each year, compassionate Americans improve the world through service, education or donations.
The biggest difference between the liberal and conservative approaches to the issue is about what sort of role the federal government should play. In most cases, liberals tend to believe the US government's financial contributions are most critical to stemming the tide of human rights abuses, whether through direct assistance or in the form of programs. Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to believe the US government should have a limited role and that responsibility for helping victims should fall to the private sector and those compassionate Americans who are most able to shoulder the burden. In this way, conservatives believe, Americans who are suffering through financial crises such as job losses or home foreclosures are not forced to provide assistance they cannot afford.
The issue of human rights is not usually associated with conservatives, but it is a myth to say the issue is of no concern to them. For the most part, conservatives are well aware that human rights are being denied in every corner of the world (including our own). Nevertheless, it is the liberals who are often the most vocal about it.
Without taking anything away from such liberal vociferations, conservatives typically would rather speak with their money, time and effort. Indeed, their entire approach to easing the suffering caused by human rights violations differs greatly from their liberal friends. Advocacy, protests and public outrage are important to drawing attention to the problem, but compassion is what helps it directly.
It is important to say here that I am speaking generally on this issue. Not every conservative is "compassionate," as history has shown, and not every liberal is outraged. Likewise, not every liberal subscribes to government intervention in areas where there is a proliferation of human rights abuses, nor does every conservative believe the private sector should bear most of the responsibility for helping to solve the problem. These are simply ideological observations that seem to me to be relatively consistent with liberal and conservative trends.
While the liberal and conservative approaches may differ greatly, I see no reason why they cannot complement one another. With the recent cyclone in Myanmar, this week's earthquake in central China, the ongoing suffering in Darfur and the many problems on our homefront, striking a delicate balance between the conservative and liberal ideologies is critical to improving the overall plight of our world.
For more information, visit Bloggers for Hope. To get involved with promoting human rights around the world, interfaith Christian conservatives might find the Institute on Religion & Democracy to be a useful site.