Not really me, but you may call me
a tree hugger
I have been called a liberal, accusing of spouting liberal bullshit, and scorned as a libtard (the dictionary tells me that is a “liberal that does not have much common sense. It is used as an insult by conservatives to make fun of airhead lefties”; I think it’s a derogatory use of the word “turd”). A Facebook post quoting JFK on why he was proud to be a liberal sent me scurrying to the dictionary to look up the terms liberal and conservative.
The basic difference is so simple: liberals look ahead, while conservatives cling to the past and resist change. Since nature is ever-changing, ever growing, as is our world, and even our language, to cling to the past seems futile to me. I like the notion of looking ahead, welcoming change. Liberals are open to new ideas, new attitudes. I welcome the changing society around me, the acceptance of people of all faiths and colors, no matter their wealth or poverty, their country of origin, their sexual orientation, their preference for dogs or cats, city or country. I don’t see groups or classes of people. I see a great array of individuals. And I see a world where communications and travel make it impossible to remain an isolated country. We are now in a global world, and we best adapt. Our future does not depend on our country alone, but on that of the entire world.
JFK implied that to him being a liberal meant caring about people—their lives, their health, their jobs, their happiness, all aspects of their lives, the air they breathe. I heartily applaud that. And that doesn’t mean one class or group of people—it means all people.
Conservatives however seem mired in the past, clinging to old ways that are never going to come back in our global world. And even as they watch helplessly, conservatives see the ground under their feet shifting and changing. My favorite slogan from perhaps the 2016 campaign or earlier is “This is not your father’s Republican party.” Conservatives fight change, and, to my mind, it has led them to a dark and blind corner. The attitudes of far-right-wing conservatives are dated—racism, sexism, the assumption that the natural world—plants, animals, and the earth—were created for human convenience, etc.
I have also been called a humanist, with a slightly condescending tone to the voice. Humanism emphasizes the value of human beings, individually and collectively, and of critical thinking as opposed to dogma or superstition. Dogma and superstition to me are symbolic of clinging to the past, so it’s all one bundle.
JFK was proud to be called a liberal. So am I. But as I go merrily into the adventure of the future, I do look back over my shoulder. Not for a past that I would cling to or resuscitate, but for a past that brought many treasured moments and shaped me into the person I am today. Want to scorn me as a liberal humanist? Go right ahead. I may have it put on a T-shirt.
A p.s.: Financially I am a conservative. That means I don’t believe in spending more than you have, as an individual or a government. Today’s conservatives seem to skip blithely over that fact, giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy and then bemoaning we can’t afford Medicare, Medicaid or support of our veterans. Now that’s conservative bullshit.