Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What is a Liberal

A slight gap in my posts recently.  Nora and I spent a week at the beach, just returning last Friday. Despite the rain, we enjoyed ourselves immensely.  If retirement will be like that, Bring It On!!

We spent one lazy, rain-filled day watching a Netflix series called Longmire.  If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it by retelling any of the episodes.  As far as I can tell, the series started in 2012, and will begin its 6th season soon.  We watched all of season one and two, and have started season three since returning home.

I mention it, because the depiction of the American Indian is very intense, regardless of which side you might fall on in terms of how these people and their culture have been treated, and portrayed in history,  Of course, this is still a TV show, but based on my limited knowledge of the history of the American Indian, there appears to be a serious attempt to convey ugly truth, whether that truth reflects white men or red.

Longmire is the sheriff of a county that borders a reservation of Cheyenne.  Strangely, he is considered both the friend and enemy of Indians and White men, depending on the motives and perspective of the person in question.  For many on the reservation, his arrests of Indians who have broken white men laws makes him just another white authority figure.  For those he has defended against illegal or prejudiced practices against the Cheyenne, he is a friend.  In the community where he resides, he is held up as both a protector of white men against those Indians who stray from their place and improperly act within the white men's town, and a friend of the Indian when he sides with them against an oil or logging company which ignores Indian rights to improve their profits.

I would imagine that the Longmire character would not consider himself a liberal, despite his acts to defend those whose rights have been violated or abused, just a good sheriff who upholds the law regardless of skin color of victim or predator.  Yet one might say that defending the defenseless, standing firm for those run over by the wheels of profit or the prejudices of men, is a liberal trait.    

Along those lines, I recently sent an email to all my email contacts, asking them to send me a list of five words they would use to describe "liberal".  While my sample size is small and certainly unscientific, I was curious what words liberals and those who do not describe themselves as such might send my way.  Also, I knew from the start that my sampled respondents leaned to the liberal side of the aisle.  But that didn't matter much, as I was looking for a particular adjective, which I expected would only come from those who described themselves as liberal.

First, the results.

Of the 114 adjectives I was sent, I gauged each as positive or negative as much as possible, with the last column to include words that were neither or both.

Some of the positive words were;  accepting, broad minded, altruistic, compassion, diverse, empathy, fair, equality, inclusive, humanitarian, openness, optimistic, progressive, tolerant, visionary.

Some of the negative words were; angry, confiscatory, close minded, favoritism, hypocrite, intolerant, indulgent, loud, persuadable, spendthrift, welfare.

I considered words like activist, naive, rich, and scientific as neither.

Of the positive words, 6 people said progressive, 5 open mindedness. 4 tolerant, while 2 said intolerant.  There were many more positive words, even from those whom I do not consider liberal and who also returned some negative words.  In total, 15 returned all or mostly positive words, 4 returned all or mostly negative words, and 3 returned a mixture of positive and negative.

But no one said spiritual.

I consider Jesus Christ the greatest liberal in history, not withstanding the other great prophets and spiritually enlightened people who are the basis for religions other than Christianity.  He is the one I was taught about as the child of Catholic parents, and, despite my reading most of the great religious tomes and books which relate the lives of those whose teachings have been used to found the religions of the world, He is the one I most identify with as a guide for how to treat one another.

Consequently, as a liberal, and believer in a progressive political platform, I am in favor of marriage equality, tolerance for those with a different gender preference than I, or a different gender identity than their original physical traits indicate.  I believe in equal pay for equal work.  I believe that income equality is a huge problem today, and agree that there is a limit to how much money one should earn, referring to the parable of the rich man's chances of getting into heaven as surely as a camel can pass through the eye of a needle.  I think that violence begets violence, and believe it is contrary to Christ's teachings to spend $600 billion a year on weapons and warfare.  I believe that our planet is our home, and that one should not pollute the air and water of one's planet just as one would not pollute the air and water of one's personal home.  And I believe that avoiding paying one's share for the bounty and advantage that we all, as Americans, our graced with, not by our doing but merely by having won the birth lottery, may be good business, but is not patriotic, and certainly not the trait of a spiritual man.

And finally, for those that say, it is not the government's job to create and enforce such policies that reward spirituality over greed, I say refer to the first line of the Declaration of Independence, We, the People...  

In the end, we, the people of America, the people of planet Earth, are responsible for our fate and our future.  I believe that a liberal is a person who acknowledges that responsibility, and strives to create a social structure that encompasses fairness, tolerance, and above all, spirituality.

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