Saturday, December 11, 2004

Am I a Liberal?

I originally wrote this piece as an answer to a question that Sunnye Writer posted on an earlier post. But I think I will give it its own spot. Liberals can add their own definitions and, I'm sure, that less liberal who frequent this site will also be heard from. (I haven't blogged much lately since I've been busy and my wife has been in intensive care for over a week {She's out now but still in the hospital})

I'm not sure I'm a "typical" liberal; in fact, I'm not sure that there is such a thing. We all do our own thinking and come up with our own responses to the world. For myself, what is moral has to do not with rules laid down in concrete but in rules that enable us to live in a world as it is changing. For instance, some churches believe that sex is only for procreation and that efforts to control the population of the earth is immoral. I look at it from a Humanist view and believe that if we were intended to use sex just for procreation, then women would come into season just like many, many other species and sex would occur only at that time. Instead, in the human species, sex seems to be as much of a bonding activity as it is a procreative activity. Granted, procreation cannot occur without it, but sex can occur at times when it would be impossible for procreation to occur if a man and woman are willing. This then takes sex out of where the religious right would apparently like to place it.

Second, I believe that the world has become so crowded that it is no longer the world that I grew up in. Millions of people, perhaps billions, have no source of clean water. Childhood antics that I was involved in within a small town of only several hundred people would have me sent to a prison today, primarily because we have to keep a tighter grip on people if the society as a whole is to survive. The elbow-rubbing world we have become has to have much more regulations in it to take care of the above. Believe it or not, as a liberal, I do not believe in government regulations, but I believe they are necessary for us all to live together without Erin Brockoviches or Ralph Naders. We have become a society where it is the individual that is so important that we forget that we all live in a society, which like a garden, would turn to jungle if we don't nurture all parts of it and enable all parts of it to survive. Some people may feel it is already a jungle and they are the prey.

I believe that all people must be treated with dignity and respect. We all have pretty much the same drives and urges and requirements. If we chose to wear flowers in our hair (not that I could since I have no hair), then we should be allowed to do so unless the flowers we use create an allergic reaction in someone near us. Then, we should move. I believe that every person deserves to be listened to without putting them down and should be shown the same respect everyone else deserves. This does not mean that we should allow the person without controls, the psychopath or the socially inept, to run free to damage innocent others. But it does mean that within the parameters of dealing with the eccentrics who disrupt society unduly or who claim the property or lives of others without due cause, we should enable each of us to live the life we choose. And, I believe that we all must take responsibility for all members of the society we live in, our neighborhood, our community, our county, our state, our nation, and the world.

And, finally for now, we must use reason as our overall guide for knowing the world around us. Dreams, emotions, religious experiences, drug experiences may all have a place in knowing what is going on in the world. But each of them must then be run through the dry day of reason before we are justified in running (or ruining) our lives by them, or in demanding that other people follow our lead.

As David says, Love is the answer. But we have to fully understand the questions before it makes any sense. Who are we? What are we? Why must we treat people who look and act differently different if they are not threatening us?


Blogger wanda said...

I believe you have discribed the basic views of most liberals.
I hope your wife is better and back at home soon.

9:05 PM  
Blogger David Summerlin said...

I'm sorry to hear about your wife, Chuck. I hope your family is fully restored to health and well-being soon.

Your point about reason is well taken, and I fear that is often what separates people: either different concepts of reason or reasonable people taking a stand against unreasonable people, or more often vice versa.

My meditations on love have led me to believe that our nation has been divided by a conqueror who knows fear intimately, which is by itself a divisive thing to believe.

But just as I have seen the religious right unite a huge portion of the nation through fear and xenophobia, I also see that I have been driven away from all those people, also through fear. My meditations on love were designed to help me remember that I should not be alienated from my own countrymen or world community just because small, weak men have become masterful weilding fear as a weapon. Individuals can be my enemy. Humanity in all its folly is not. Just because someone has been convinced to hate or fear me, I still must embrace that person in love and understanding, or I cease to be fully moral.

I belive I am a reasonable person. Probably more reasonable than most. But when I fight with my husband, my reason is not what brings us back together. Usually it is an unwavering insistence on reason that makes us fight in the first place. Similarly, I fear there is little hope of uniting a nation in the principles of reason, though obviously there is little choice but to either try or give up.

My reason may make me smarter and better adjusted than another man, but it does not make me better in any intrinsic sense. Love is what makes my universe large and strong. When I speak with reasonable people, they can see my love. It is palpable and sincere. And it is the only thing I posess that can conquer my own fears about the future of humanity. Perhaps it is strong enough to reach out and conquer the fears of those who fear whatever I might represent to them.

I have been guilty of reacting in fear, when I should have acted out of love. It's an easy and common mistake, so I don't feel ashamed. But unlike so many humans, I prefer to learn from my mistakes when I can. 2004 was a terrible year for me. The lesson I learned? Love conquers fear. It's worth remembering.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Eric Coobs said...

I hope your wife has a speedy recovery.

Last year when Lori's Dad spent 3 months in ICU I grew to hate that place.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

Thank you, Eric. After a week of it, I've had all I can take. She's out of there now but still in the hospital.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Rocky Smith said...


Best wishes to you and your wife. May she have a full and speedy recovery.

I submit that nobody is fully liberal or conservative. While I hold many conservative views, I have some which would be considered liberal:

1. Free education through college- Ignorance is NOT bliss.
2. Medical marijuana should be legal- Even if it only provides small benefit, why deny it to those who are terminal?
3. Legal abortion- It's not something I'd do, but I can't put my morals on you.
4. Sex only for procreation? HAH! No way! I'm a total pervert, if you ask my wife.

There are more, but I won't pontificate through a whole page. You get the point, I'm sure.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

Rocky: Like some other people I know, I'll bet you're more of a social liberal and a fiscal conservative (only because you say you hold conservative views). I agree with the college funding program and the others you list.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

Hi Chuck,
I hope your wife is feeling better. She'll be in my prayers this holiday!

2:42 PM  
Blogger Chuck Rightmire said...

My wife came home yesterday afternoon and is feeling pretty good, considering that she still is wearing staples and other medical paraphernalia. She couldn't get through an airport security check, I don't believe. Thank you all for your good wishes.

4:54 PM  
Blogger MontanaDem said...

JFK said it well:

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal."

But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

11:29 AM  
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6:12 AM  
Blogger NoTONoEagles said...

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9:04 PM  

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