I believe in liberalism, both politically and morally.
When I became politically engaged, in the nineteen-sixties, a bloody and unpopular war was being waged by America in Vietnam. Tens of thousands of young people — many my age — were fighting and dying in a war that seemed pointless and unwinnable. Another bloody war was being waged in the streets of America; a war in which people of color were demanding the rights guaranteed them by our government. As in Vietnam, the war being fought within America was also costing people their lives. In each case, the liberal point of view was that the killing was wrong. Liberals believed that the senseless war in Vietnam should end. Liberals believed that black Americans should be recognized as Americans and enjoy the same rights and privileges as anyone else.
When I reached voting age, I cast my first vote for the liberal candidate, believing that he would be more likely to end the wars in Vietnam and the streets of America. I’ll never know if he would have. Richard Nixon won that election and the wars and the senseless killings continued.
In recent years, many non-liberals have succeeded in demonizing the word ‘liberal’ to the extent that many would-be liberals shy from the word; referring to themselves now as progressives. I’m proud to call myself and be liberal. I’d be disappointed and ashamed of myself if I were anything else.
A great philosopher and teacher — a carpenter’s son living two thousand years ago — changed the world with a liberal message of peace. He believed, as liberals do today, that we should feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. He also believed, as liberals do today, that we should treat everyone as we’d like others to treat us.
I like to ask those who dismiss liberal philosophy if they would prefer to be liberal or conservative when feeding the hungry. Liberal or conservative when clothing the naked. Liberal or conservative when treating others as they, themselves, would like to be treated.
I’ll admit, social programs that give aid to the poor cost money but, again, this carpenter’s son had a lot to say about the evils of placing more value on money than on people.
America is the greatest, the richest and the most powerful country in human history. We have the resources and ability to carry on the teachings of the carpenter’s son of two thousand years ago. Because I’m liberal, I believe we should. Empathy, compassion and generosity are the values that liberals believe we should all carry with us every moment of every day. We should share our wealth and embrace those less fortunate than us. We should expand social programs to benefit the hungry, the naked, the voiceless and powerless. To do otherwise, I believe, is unconscionable. Not coincidentally, so did the carpenter’s son.
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