Thursday, April 1, 2010

Traditional and Progressive Tension

Progressive views are important to evaluate, as they are what is on the "cutting edge" of any given subject. This is the challenge of reason's embrace of discovery. But, just as important is tradition's "tried and true" values of experience. The traditional view is verified through experience, while the progressive seeks to experiment.

I learned that my family had wanted to try the "progressive", radical, or experimental approach in addressing "the back issue" of one of our family members. But, was this appropriate to all of the needs of this family member? That is one of debate for the family and is ultimately one of personal decision and choice by the patient.

The conservative or traditional approach is to manage pain through physical therapy, continued exercise, pain pills and cortisone shots. We will have to "wait and see" if this is enough to get the patient back on his feet. Otherwise, he must face the possibility of back surgury, which could be a radical step for his age of 93.

There is presently available a non-invasive type of surgury that fuses the spine with "super-glue" to strengthen it. The family has wished that this type of progressive treatment would be embraced by his family physician. But, family physicians have differences in philosophy or approaches to medicine. And the family should not have been surprised to find that this particular physician was not particularly pre-disposed to a progressive medical philosophy.

Traditional and progressive views are both important to hold in tension in free societies, for each holds a value to free societies. Traditional views are based on the wisdom from experience, while progressive views are open to the creative elements of innovation and experiment.

The progressive and "conservative" or traditional view was evident when my family member and I watched two Supreme Court judges discuss their differences on the Constituion, while he was in the hospital. It was fascinating to see how the two differed in their analysis, concerns and approaches to one document that defines our "American way of life".

Wisdom sees, but is bound within the contexts of time, while experimentation is based on reason's genius or creativity or the needs of society for change. Roots and innovation are necessary fodder for society to flourish. And the Founders used both to create "a more perfect union". We cannot err on either side if we desire to further the cause of democracy in America.

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