Whenever we try to spread a belief, we encounter a problem. Other people have their own agendas, and their agendas usually do not coincide with our own. So to sell our belief, we have to convince others that accepting our belief will further their own interests. That tends to be easier said than done.
- Once they realize we are trying to proselytize, our targets become automatically skeptical.
- Our targets are generally already sold on their own beliefs. When our belief conflicts with their own, we must first convince them they are wrong. Nobody likes to be proved wrong.
- People have their own plans and agendas; they do not want to be bothered.
Nonetheless, countless people are converted or sold on various ideas and beliefs every year. Since I want sell people on Conservatism and Christianity, I have spent a little time wondering how the selling of a belief is done. The answer? I still don’t know, but I have been asked (here).
I can tell you about the problems.
- Since I am a Conservative, and the Republican Party believes in limited government, I am also a Republican. Unfortunately, while many elected Republican officials talk like Conservatives, very few walk the walk. With almost as much eagerness as Democrats, elected Republicans also tax and spend. That makes the Republican Party a hard sell even to other Conservatives. In fact, many people consider politics such a dirty business, they want no part of it.
- I have come to Christianity late in life. A product of the public school system and the corporate mass media, I found it hard to reconcile the teachings of Christianity with the ideas with which the world constantly bombarded me. I did not relent in my agnosticism until I finally took the time to read the Bible. Why did I do that? I saw it worked for other people. Even though I was raised a Christian by Christians, achieving that simple understanding took over fifty years.
I don’t know enough about sales to list all the rules or to teach others how to sell. All I know is that what people need most from each other is honest love and concern. So I think it safe to say that the first thing a successful salesman does is to convince his target that he cares about them. Consider this passage from the Bible.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The primary selling point of Christianity has always been the practice of Christianity. By being Christians — with our example — we proselytize for Christianity. Christianity sells because we each need to love and be loved. We each need to be part of a community where we believe we are wanted.
People come to church for many reasons, but they stay because the members of that church make each other welcome. People come to Jesus because we bring each other to Jesus (John 12:20-22.).
Modern Conservatism can succeed only if Conservatives adopt a similar strategy. We must emphasize how Conservatism can and will do a better job of building communities where people can love and care for each other. That is in fact what George W. Bush tried to do when he campaigned as a “compassionate Conservative.” Unfortunately, in the process of proving his compassion, Bush also proved his credentials as an avid tax and spender. What Bush failed to do is show how Conservatism itself provides the basis for compassionate and caring government policies.
Conservatives can begin by pointing to the inevitable result of an overemphasis on government solutions. Each government program creates a huge bureaucracy. Each of these bureaucracies is uncaring of individuals. Each bureaucracy knows us only by our social security number. Within government bureaucracies we become like rats in a labyrinth. With only our wits can we escape with a bit of cheese, a few dollars worth of whatever is dispersed by the denizens of that government institution.
Conservatism must point to Conservatism and explain that Conservatism is about choice. Conservative, limited government allows each citizen to find out for themselves the answer to questions such as these:
Where do I want to belong?
To what cause do I want to dedicate my life?
Socialists or Busybodyists already have their answers to these questions. And with the power that government gives them, they will force their answers on each and every citizen. If we want our rightful choices to be our own, we must each protect our right to choose. How do we begin? We each can begin by exercising our right to make our rightful choices. We can seek the communities where we belong. We can each dedicate our life to a worthwhile cause.