I’m not sure how it happened. I’m not sure when it happened. But somewhere along the way, I inadvertently transformed into something I once hated. I woke up one day, and suddenly I was labeled by my family and peers.
I. Am. A. Liberal.
I didn’t ask for this label. I still don’t consider myself one. but biased truth sounds a lot like the truth when it’s said over and over. So let’s look at how that plays out…
An Overnight Transformation
I never once voted for Barack Obama. I voted exclusively Republican up until two years ago. I always considered Liberals uninformed, and Democrats the less constructive or productive party. They never won. They never did anything lasting or could get their shit together long enough to accomplish anything. It was always the Republicans, the conservative and responsible bunch, that got it done and solidified their goals and wrote it into history. Democrats just complained and whined a lot and made up problems.
This is what I thought.
It’s not all inaccurate really. But as if it was overnight, I switched teams. I didn’t see it coming. But I also didn’t see the era of Trump coming either. Donald Trump has caused more polarization, dissension, disrespect, and disregard for our fellow human than any other presidential candidate in US history. The tables literally have been turned upside down.
This all came at a time in my life where I was very much at a stage of activism, and entering into a greater awareness for my fellow human. I couldn’t be ok with what was happening. I couldn’t stand by and watch while entire areas of our society were being burned to the ground and set back decades in progress towards equality.
So in a way, I became a liberal overnight. Except I didn’t.
The Problem With Labels
We can’t help but label everyone and everything. We compartmentalize society so that we can survive. It goes back to our instinctual desire to know who is in charge, and where to fit in with the pack. The problem with labels is that we tend to over-generalize with people and that label becomes their identity. Labeling quickly devolves into judging based on the label. We are all guilty of this every single day.
For us to truly love people and break through cultural and societal barriers, we have to intentionally look past labels and try to understand the heart behind them. This is why I’m so passionate about Story. Learn someone’s story, and you will have a really hard time not loving the person regardless of cultural differences.
The Challenges Of Liberalism
A Piece Of The Puzzle
The challenge of Liberalism (and often the critique of those opposed to its philosophy) is the often unaddressed or unspoken issue of what is a direct contradiction to its very foundation of beliefs within the community or culture of liberals. What I’m referring to here is the fact that Liberalism prides itself on inclusivity and openness of all cultures and walks of life, but often has the strongest and strictest sense of exclusivity among the ranks of its community. There is often a lack of individualism because of the communal nature of liberalism and its strong sense of purpose and drive towards its causes. Once you commit to and are a member of this group, you fall in line with those around you with the unspoken expectation to stand for the cause and become another piece to the greater puzzle.
Taking this problem a step further, liberals tend to be elitist in their own right. If you don’t see the world the way they do, then your view is wrong. You are considered uneducated, uninformed, and treated as lesser, which directly contradicts their inclusivity and acceptance of all.
Obviously this is not how every liberal is, but it feels that way because they are made to feel as though they are not allowed to speak up among other liberals.
Liberalism And Nationalism
Liberalism actually developed over time alongside a weak form of Nationalism, though they contradict each other in today’s culture. Liberalism was a way of organizing society for the benefit of its members in a manner that promoted, better than any alternative, the society’s harmony, prosperity, and power in a world of independent states. The nation, in this context, was just the collection of people organized in a state and thereby sharing common interests in their peace, prosperity, and power.
But a strong form of Nationalism holds that a nation is an ethnocultural group sharing a common ancestry, history, and culture and that membership in such a group is fundamental to the identity and value of the individual. Nationalism in this sense is totally antithetical to liberalism, for which individual identity is deeper than national identity.
The Bigger Picture
You can call me a liberal for believing that all people should be treated equally, or that the government should provide certain necessities to it’s people to survive, regardless of socio-economic status so that those who are more fortunate might pour their earnings into the economy in ways that make it grow and flourish, while this also serves the less fortunate who can’t afford the basics to live. You can even call me a liberal because I genuinely am painfully and inexpressively against and in protest of corporations running a country (or the heads of corporations who have their hands in too many pockets to be an objective leader and handle the power and responsibly of making decisions for a nation).
But I don’t think this makes me a liberal. I also believe in limiting a government’s power and authority over it’s people so that the people remain in charge. I believe in true democracy and a willingness for things to change and evolve to best serve its people.
I believe in individualism and one’s freedom of choice over their own destiny in this country (Though I do believe this true “American Dream” should be available to anyone who chooses to take advantage of this system from anywhere in the world, provided they jump through the necessary hoops to come here).
The bigger picture here is that the labels have been skewed and perverted into something that was never intended. Republican and Democrat. Liberal and Conservative. Do we truly know what those labels stand for anymore? Or do we just use them to judge someone for disagreeing with our views?
Protests are great when they are followed by real and tangible action. Let us not let Liberalism pass through yet another generation as just the voice of a culture that is discontented by what is happening but only wants to yell about it from across the isles without working toward real solutions.
If we don’t learn to work together and respect one another, regardless of differences, we will continue to see our society collapse while Trump-like demagogues reap the benefits and snatch up an ever growing surplus of power and authority that has been forsaken by the people of a nation in an identity crisis. Trump will not be the last corporate billionaire to try and run for the office of leader of the free world (he has no doubt made sure of that with his administration picks thus far). The issue is bigger than one man.
We need to come to a harsh reality that we all have paved the way for our current political, economical, and societal circumstances. We created a world in which the likes of Donald Trump can be President. Liberal or not, we are all to blame.
I’m tired of pointing the blame. You should be too. Let’s stop yelling and start talking and listening. Let’s stop whining and get to work. Our efforts might be in vain. It may truly already be hopeless. We may have already lost any chance of regaining control of the system from the top 1%. But there’s only one way to find out.
I can promise you it will surely be hopeless if we all continue to let falsities go viral, share our opinions on Facebook, wreck relationships with family and friends, disrespect and hate those who are different from us, while ultimately doing nothing.
I am not a Liberal. I am not a Conservative. I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat.
I am me. I have a story.
Let’s get back to the Story.