Saturday, September 5, 2009

What's a Liberal? Could it be me?

According to what I hear and read about politics, liberals are evil, stupid, and have no common sense, decency or religious beliefs.

The religious beliefs part I heard from the pulpit when our minister encouraged everyone to vote for George Bush and his version of Christianity.

I no longer attend that church. So, I must be what they label a liberal.

If you ask me, it seems like I'm a conservative. I certainly have conservative views when it comes to my personal life.

Perhaps I am conservative because my budget dictates it, but I feel it to the very bone that adage 'waste not, want not.' My parents grew up during The Great Depression and they were experts on doing without and making do. It seems like the right way to conduct oneself. We pay our taxes, don't try to find some way to get out of our responsibilities nor try to get something for nothing.

I don't get a new dress based upon fashion trends and keeping up with them. I'm a follower of the classics and only purchase new garments when the others wear out or as too often happens I outgrow them. I swear they shrink, even after 20 washings.

I save leftover food, fabric, boxes, and even leftover dryer lint. Okay, let me qualify that last one. Lint is an excellent material and is quite useful in multi-media fabric art, something I dabble in and would love to excel at, but I'm definitely not anywhere near moving out of the novice amateur newby stage.

We repurpose whatever we can. (Note the dryer lint.) For years I saved the holiday cards people sent to us. The next year I used the front cover as package labels on those colorfully wrapped gifts piled beneath our tree or given to friends and extended family. Egg cartons became useful containers for buttons and sewing notions and odds and ends, not to mention Christmas ornaments and various craft materials. Cereal boxes became book covers as did brown paper bags.

Worn socks fit on a hand beautifully for waxing a car and leftover bits of candles were dumped together into a pot, melted down and made into new candles. Parts of worn jeans and overalls became pillows or quilts or vests or aprons. The odd button became part of a fabric child's book to help them improve hand eye coordination and dexterity. Buttons and buttonholes, zippers taken from a worn pair of slacks became another page in the book, etc.

My husband was adept at fixing just about any small appliance and threw away nothing because he could someday use it for parts. He also repaired the house itself. And he was the one who spaded up the garden plot and together we planted, then preserved the foods we grew. Of all of the things I miss my garden most these days, but that's another story.

All of that to say that I identify with conservation. But I guess that isn't the stuff conservatives are made of.

I don't quite understand these labels. My father would have described a liberal as a young man with long hair, an earring and a tattoo. If that's the definition -- I'm not a liberal, although I do have pierced ears and my hair does brush my collar -- but I am female, so I don't think that counts. No tattoos, piercings or long hair on my husband either.

  • If a liberal is one who believes that all people are created equal. I'm a liberal.
  • If a liberal believes that we are all in this together and we should take every opportunity to help our fellow man and woman to a better life. I'm a liberal.
  • If a liberal believes that healthcare is a right for everyone regardless of income or social economic situation. I'm a liberal.
  • If a liberal believes that education should be available to everyone and affordable if not totally free; that education will make this world a better place. Then, I'm a liberal.
  • If a liberal can make mistakes, pick himself up, and try to do good, then I'm a liberal.
  • If a liberal tells the truth, admits his beliefs, and votes to improve life for all humans not just a few -- is that a liberal? That's me.
  • If a liberal feels that words are sacred and you should strive to say something nice, uplift those around you and not belittle in an effort to raise yourself up, then I'm a liberal.
  • If a liberal believes that integrity, honesty, tenacity, and faith are the character traits I value and find lacking in business and just about any area of civil interaction -- then I definitely am a liberal.

Time and again a person goes out of his or her way to instruct me in the fact that they are a born-again Christian, a conservative AND a Republican. But when it comes to how they treat their fellow man -- the less fortunate -- they seem to transform into something very un-Christ like. They speak of profit. They speak of illegal aliens as if they are a new species of weed or killer bees, as if they are not humans requiring the same healthcare and basic survival package as every other human. "We shouldn't be paying for their care...."

I agree, people should be in our country legally. But then I ask, "When they are in need, though, who should clothe them, feed them, heal them?" I get a shrug and a turn of the head. They no longer meet my gaze as they mumble, "I don't know, they shouldn't have come here illegally. I shouldn't be paying for their care."

Would've, should've, could've. If , if, if. But don't conservatives and liberals need to deal with the world as it is and not simply get in a huff because things are not as they should be? We must deal with the needs of the population today and fix it as we go along. And don't we, as members of the human race, need to think about the good of everyone, not just what's good for me? Or is the dissention over that phrase: the good of the many outweighs the good of the few? If I see someone in need, should I think about whether he's worth saving? Or is simply seeing the need enough reason to respond? Do I judge who is or is not worthy?

If liberals are dreamers -- count me in. If liberals say "what if" or "why not" -- then call me a liberal.

Maybe all mothers are liberals because we'll do just about anything to soothe pain, heal hurt, and foster peace. But why on earth is it a negative thing to be considered a liberal since so many 'liberals' have devoted their lives to helping others and making this world better?

  • Andrew Carnegie? Liberal?
  • Mother Teresa? Liberal?
  • Jesus? Liberal?
  • Martin Luther King? Liberal?
  • Frank Lloyd Wright? Liberal?
  • Jonas Salk? Liberal?
  • Bill Gates? Liberal?
I believe that everyone is created equal and I'm not put on this earth to judge. I try not to judge by the outward image or the behaviors or whether they chew with their mouth shut or open. Although I admit I am partial to closed mouth chewers.

I also believe that the best way to fix what's broken -- stock markets, businesses large and small, banks, healthcare, energy, oil, is by a simple character improvement: honesty.

Recently we dealt with a new company for the first time and oh my they were great talkers. They offered us a product at an amazingly reasonable price. They waved their religion as if it were a citation from the Better Business Bureau and then tried to push for a few bells and whistles on us. But overall in the end, it appears that they conduct their business in an honest fashion relying on integrity, hard work, a quality product, and good morals to attract their customer base. They seem too good to be true. And I'm so accustomed to being ripped off if I trust anyone, I still am waiting for the catch. By the way, if you want some propaganda about consumerism, check out this video.

Yet, they remind me of the way almost everyone did business on a local level back when I was a child. But even then times were changing. Ask Grandpa how much he wished the Insurance Company who repossessed his farm had conducted business with integrity and a strong moral character. Of course Grandpa did chose to go into debt....

Ah well. We can't help Grandpa. But maybe if we all begin to say what we mean, mean what we say, cut out the sarcasm, hype, spin, and 'buyer beware' attitude -- maybe, just maybe trust could make a comeback and we'd all see our world become a more welcoming place to live.

I just don't understand labels.

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