Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Liberalism

Not the D variety. I want to discuss what a liberal actually is. It has nothing to do with politics.
I remember from one of my critical thinking courses in college, my teacher, who was raised LDS and attended BYU, talked about liberalism. Liberals, he told his class of students who were attending college in one of the most conservative - in every sense of the word - parts of the nation, was about being open-minded and willing to change. A liberal isn't someone who was pro-choice, anti-death penalty, a pacifist or a hippie. A liberal is someone who embraced and invited change and new ideas, who stood for something better than the status quo. So those bumper stickers that say "Jesus was a liberal" are absolutely correct.
My liberalism was challenged recently.
I was presented with an idea that was contrary to what I've been taught my entire life. This wasn't even a political or social argument; it was actually a religious reference, although it was regarding LDS history, not LDS doctrine. But I thought, and said out loud, "You scare me a little bit." What followed was eye-rolling and some form of philosophical, intellectual name-calling. (Like, conservative. There were no insults in Latin.)
Of course I felt the need to defend myself, but I don't think I accomplished much. But here's the thing, my pure classical liberal friend. New ideas can be scary. That doesn't mean I'm not open to them. I'm scared to one day make an eternal commitment, but I am at least open to the possibility of it happening. I'm scared to have children and buy a house, but I plan to do both. Fear is only a stumbling block if you hide behind it. If you acknowledge it's there but continue moving forward, all it becomes is part of the path.

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