Copyright © 2006 Henrietta W. Hay
Not Embarrassed--Proud to be a Liberal
February 10, 2006
"Are you sure you are a liberal? You look so normal." I get asked that every now and then. I really am getting tired of having the word "Liberal" used as an obscenity. At the moment I have a slightly sore knee. My friend the philosopher suggests that it has been traumatized by years of knee-jerk liberalism. When people ask me why I am limping I tell them I have an old Liberal injury.
The dictionary defines liberalism as, "a political philosophy advocating personal freedom for the individual, democratic forms of government, gradual reform in political and social institutions."
That doesn't really sound life threatening. I would add to the official definition, "willingness to listen to other people's beliefs and ideas."
The political philosophy of Liberalism has had a long and varied history. There is nothing new about the idea. It arose in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, in protest against the prerogatives of kings, aristocrats and the church.
In today's world the Liberals are the idealists, the people who still believe, in spite of everything, that has happened, that they can make the world a better place for everybody. Realistically, they know they're outnumbered, but it is a belief that shapes their lives.
Sometimes it takes a long time to create a true Liberal. Personally, I think the seed was planted in me back in C. U. in the thirties. Hold it now! There was nothing "radical" about the university then. But I studied world history and governments and found that the world was a lot bigger than Englewood, Colorado, and I had a part in it. I developed an active political curiosity which didn't often agree with my violently Republican mother.
The seed started to grow fast when Nixon came along, but when the women's movement started a Liberal was born. We all came to our beliefs by different roads, but however we got there John Kennedy described it best. "For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves. ... For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society."
Liberals brought electric lights and indoor plumbing to our farm homes in the j1930's and 1940's. They brought the Civil Rights Act and Social Security, women's right to vote and the beginning of women's equality, bank deposit insurance and the Peace Corps. The list goes on and on.
Liberals are not criminals. They are not traitors. They are patriotic Americans. They love their families. They go to work and complain about traffic circles. Most of them probably have cats -- and probably dogs. Most of them are Christians. Most of them are Democrats. Some of them are Republicans. They all say, "You believe your thing and let me believe mine."
No, "Liberal" is not a dirty word. It is a proud word. It is an idea of freedom that has been around for several centuries.
I'm proud to be a Liberal.