A Good Word, Coined By Accident

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In a comment on my blog, good friend Meade writes of his own political twistings and turnings:

Used to consider myself a conservative until the civil rights movement and Vietnam helped push me toward liberal. But Sept. 11 and all that was then revealed of the left – the antiAmericanism, malignant narcissism, and Jew-hating (just to name a few of its many diseases) – pushed me back to the center. I now consider myself a true Conversative – willing to oppose anything wrong – left or right – on moral principle, with a strong need to talk it over, fearless in the face of ambiguities and typos.

Conversative! Let’s take that stumble (?), which Meade quickly turned into a hop skip and jump, and run with it. It’s actually a good word for what you are if you’re neither liberal nor conservative. Conversative as in conversation: “a strong need to talk it over.” (Though you wouldn’t want to talk endlessly and never get to action.) And conversative as in “conversely”: a willingness to look at both sides of any issue or argument, since each side may have part of the truth. There’s an echo of “convert” and “conversion” in there too — a willingness to convert yourself, to change your mind, if conversation about both (all) sides of an issue so persuades you. (Most of us in the center have had that experience, and it’s the diehard rigidity of left and right allegiances that dismays us.) And an inclination to convert a standoff into a new synthesis, much the way former enemies in war (Japan and America, e.g.) can become “lovers” and exchange memes.

I’m willing to declare myself a conversative!

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