Deciphering Good Progress from Bad

I'm a big "gut" girl. While I haven't always gone with my gut, I've lived long enough to know I wish I had. Gut instincts can be powerful. I personally believe our gut is our conscience: When something feels right, it probably is. And if it feels wrong, it probably is.

For example, I was thinking about recycling -- what an everyday thing it is today -- and how it didn't used to be. I consider recycling, in almost all its forms, to be a good thing. Logical. Reasonable. At Sam's club they don't bag anything. Now how much sense does that make? (Although as my friend points out, their reasoning probably isn't altruistic...they just can't bag things that big.) So much that grocery stores now ask if you'd like your milk or 6-pack in a bag -- and of course I don't. It just feels wrong to put it in a bag, doesn't it?

But years ago we did. Years ago the entire concept of not bagging everything was foreign to us. Now when I purchase an item of clothing at a name-brand store at a mall, for example (a rare thing for me since I hate malls and buy most of our clothes from Target or second-hand stores), I can't stand it when they put like five little pairs of my son's new underwear in a fancy bag. What a waste! Of course these bags can be beneficial in some other ways, but only if you don't accumulate too much of them.

My point is this: Recycling is an example of progress that just makes sense to most people. However, not all "progress" is considered progress by everyone -- hence, the political divide. There are many people who consider abortion progress for women, for example. Clearly not everyone agrees. There are many people who consider gay marriage or modern feminism to be a boon for our country; not everyone agrees with that either. But the end of slavery is progress by any reasonable standard, and 99% of people agree on this.

When it comes to the idea of "progress," which is a liberal concept to which both conservatives and liberals subscribe, there will never be complete agreement. So what I do is think of progress on a sliding scale: some is good, some isn't good. And how I determine the difference usually comes down to my gut.

I don't think I'm that different from most people in this regard. In fact I believe when it comes to what's happening in the White House, most Americans know in their gut that they hired the wrong man for the job. Whether they'll admit it or not is something else.

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