I’ve seen it a lot lately. You say the word ‘liberal’ and people roll their eyes – “Oh he’s a liberal.” – “Yeah, that’s what the liberals want.” – and the eye-rolling and dismissive gestures start. How did this happen and why?
According to dictionary.com, liberal is defined as:
Favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs. Favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties. Favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers. Free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners, and open-minded or tolerant.
Is it bad to seek progress in political or religious affairs? Is the belief in maximum individual freedom a bad idea? Is it a bad idea to guarantee those freedoms through law and governmental protection? Is it a bad idea to permit freedom of action and expression? Isn’t that what this country was founded on? Is it a bad idea to be tolerant, free from prejudice, and free from bigotry?
Why, especially in this country, have these become eye-rolling traits?
By definition, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams, and the other founding fathers and leaders of the time were liberal thinkers. If they had not been liberal, this country that we love may not have been formed so thoughtfully or we may have stayed under the rule of the British monarchy for a lot longer. If it weren’t for a liberal attitude, would the words of the Declaration of Independence started with “We the people?”
Without liberal, progressive thought, black people would still be slaves – thought of as less than human. Without liberal, progressive thought, women would not have the right to vote. They would still be thought of as subserviant to men and not smart enough or strong enough to work or participate in the decision-making process and government of this great country. Without liberal, progressive thinking, we would have never gone to the moon, never built the personal computer, never made the kind of progress that we have made as a country. Without liberal, progressive thought, this country would not be what it is today.
It’s bizarre, that we, as a country, have made progress and freedom a bad thing and something to roll your eyes about.
Over the weekend, I have watched the liberal, progressive thinkers of Iran put their lives on the line to protest a corrupt election – to demand that their government take their freedom seriously. I watched a video of an Iranian woman die in the street for those liberal, progressive thoughts and actions. They want more. They want better, and they want to be heard, and I only wish we had more of that involvement and attitude towards progress and freedom in this country. Thomas Jefferson would certainly be smiling on us if we did.