What is the definition of a liberal?
Lib·er·al: a person that generally support ideas such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, and gender equality. It is a belief in humanity and in progressive reform in sociocultural, moral/religious, and political matters. Several people identify this way and appreciate it.
I feel a need to add a keyword that may need defining to aid in conveying how I embrace and define being a liberal.
That keyword is tolerance. Clearly, tolerance is compassion.
Liberal tolerance has two definitions. If you ask anyone on the right, they will say that liberals permit or accept everything and everyone and that somehow doesn’t allow for negative feedback or debate.
The conservative really do come off as obtuse babies when you tell them that something they said is stupid or their candidate is a rapist, they reply with, “Where’s that liberal tolerance?”
Many times I have exhibited poor manners by replying with an “FU Bitch!!” Suddenly I’ll see a screenshot of my tweet with the caption Liberal Tolerance at it’s best.
Let’s begin by taking that word apart for a more precise illustration of the two separate words that construct it.
Let’s examine the word tolerance.
When I was younger, I thought that it was a bad thing if something or someone was tolerated To me it meant to “put up with,” or suffer through, but with a smile.
Tol·er·ance: the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the of opinions or behavior you don’t necessarily agree with.
Okay, that’s good, I also want to specify that tolerance is freedom from bigotry. It’s having a permissive attitude toward those different from one’s own
I believe that defines the tolerance in the word Liberal Tolerance.
The word tolerance can also be defined as an ability or willingness to tolerate something like opinions or behavior that we don’t necessarily agree with.
Why would I tolerate something I don’t agree with?
I don’t agree with corruption. Would I tolerate it? I abhor lies and liars. Should I tolerate that? Do I tolerate fake news and hypocrisy? No, I do not. I do not have the ability or willingness to do so.
By not tolerating such actions, liberals were called out. We were called intolerant.
lib·er·al adj. Not limited by traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, or dogmas; free from bigotry. Favoring reform, open to progress. Tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded. Tending to give freely; generous.
I may not have always known the name for it, but I knew that I liked it. I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t this way.
Liberals, if you recall, generally defend freedoms and civil rights.
Supporting these unalienable rights doesn’t sound like a scary notion to accept. I would think that promoting these views would be a position that would be welcomed by many Americans. Regrettably, there is plenty of opposition.
The opposition comes from a group of people that assumes they are authorized to determine if others are worthy of shouldering these privileges.
The worthiness is based on skin color, sex, social class, religion, nationality, and net worth. Conservatives also possess the brazenness to have a say in who you or I can fall in love with.
Officials in Texas have even gone through considerable trouble to draft a law prohibiting certain sexual acts in the privacy of your own bedroom. I can’t even grasp the impertinence of Section 21.06 of the Texas criminal code.
These conservative lawmakers preoccupation with same-gender sex is disturbing to me in not only its intrusive intentions, but I wonder what consideration has gone into the techniques they’ll apply in implementing their laws in my bed.
I can affirm that liberals are not concerned or preoccupied with what goes on in your private bedroom. We are busy making some sweet love of our own. We don’t have time to deliberate what position you may currently be in or how high in the air you managed to get your legs up to last night.
I can further assert that liberals do not care if a person is perceived to be different than ourselves. Our outreach is for the masses and we will not and will never attribute a person’s worth by the size of their bank accounts.
You won’t often see or hear us praying out loud in public, we do not put on a show like conservatives do.
We are not impressed by your public display of prayer. We are touched by your humility.
I think this is an excellent place to pause and give you a glimpse of what my upbringing was like in suburbia and how it molded my liberal scope.
A Liberal is Born
I don’t remember when I first heard the L word. I didn’t use the term when I was growing up in Texas. I didn’t know there was a name for what my social views were.
As I became more aware of the social classes and which political party I identified with, I categorized being liberal as being cooked “just right,” and I was nestled between an ‘over-done’ radical and an ‘under-cooked’ conservative.
I recognized what I believed in, but I still didn’t know the word for it. I didn’t distinguish it in my teens nor did I realize it in my twenties. I would be midway through my thirty’s before I added the word liberal to my vocabulary.
I “knew” I might be a Democrat when at the age of 8 years old, I asked my mother what the distinction was between a Democrat and a Republican. All she said was that Republicans were a champion for the rich and Democrats favored the rest of the populace. She didn’t speak it quite so eloquently, but that was the way I heard it.
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, and I recall listening to reports of riots and civil unrest from the local evening news that was coming from our colossal television console that sat on the living room floor. I discovered that it was African-Americans vying for their civil rights. I also remember how the term that was used back then was negro.
I didn’t pay it much attention, nevertheless, because I didn’t think at the age of 9 ( in 1978) that it would mean much to me.
In the 80’s I remember there was mention of gay people desiring their equal rights, as well. I also remember that the important term I heard was queer.
I didn’t pay it much attention, nonetheless, because I didn’t think at the age of 13 ( in 1982) that it would matter much to me.
Why don’t these groups of people have the same rights as others? Why should they have to demand them?
I didn’t know that there were conservative people that did not consider blacks or gays as deserving of the same rights that they relished.
I reflected and worried for all of five minutes. I then resumed my childhood, which was already in progress in the streets and sewer tunnels of Farmers Branch with my diverse mix of friends from the neighborhood.
While writing this, a memory of a conversation I had with my mother suddenly came to me. It is a very life-changing one that I can’t believe I didn’t even think of it as I drafted this post.
That conversation was the moment that my mother steered me away from bigotry when I was about 7 years old.
First, I want to say, that the way in which I perceived people different from me came from the environment I encountered outside of my home and in the movies. I know that my parents didn’t raise me to be racist. I am still humiliated that I ever said what I am about to tell you:
It was December 1976, I was in 2nd grade, and my brother Alex was in Kindergarten at Janie Stark Elementary. We were both watching the TV that sat on a dresser in our parents’ bedroom, and we were on our parents’ bed, or we were both in my bedroom playing “Joon Joon Jesus” ….don’t ask. There we were when my mother walks in and asks if we have any Christmas gift ideas for our teachers.
My teacher was a mean white lady. My brother Alex had a black teacher.
I guess we were shouting out suggestions, when suddenly I stopped and said, ” Mom, don’t get Alex’s teacher anything for Christmas.”
My mom looked at me with a puzzled look on her face, “Why?”, she asked.
I think I looked around the room as if to make sure that there was no one nearby or under the bed.
“Because she’s black, ” I whispered.
I still can’t believe I didn’t get the proverbial “Chankla” in the face.
“Why would you say that?” she asked.
I imagine she asked me more questions and I may have answered back, but 1976 happened so long ago, so I do not recall it verbatim.
This part I do.
” Black people are no different from us, ” she said sternly,” we are not better than them. I never want to hear you say anything like that again. Who told you that?”
I had no answer, and I think I cried. I have obeyed my mother all these years. Thank you, mom.
As I grew up and acquired more information and experienced the world, I wondered if I would get an answer to my question, ” Why don’t these people have the rights that they are asking for?”
I didn’t realize it at the time that I was a person of color (Mexican), and I didn’t know enough to identify myself as gay.
That day eventually arrived when I would know these things about me. When I would be aware that I was a double minority. I realized that I was one of a group that did not share the same rights as HeteroJoe O’Whitebread.
I later found out why; I learned of the conservatives and their Bible.
I learned about the hate.
I was a little afraid knowing that these people had a God that encouraged them to live in a manner that didn’t reflect any attitudes that were outwardly Godly. I struggled and questioned the religious beliefs I had because of the hypocrisy, and I imagine this to be a reason that some choose not to delve deeper into establishing a relationship with a specific denomination.
I guess the point I want to make is that with all this talk I hear from the far right, about being Christian, about telling us what the Bible says; supposedly and discussion of “Family Values”; I would think that those people would be broad-minded and free from bigotry.
I was wrong.
Lauren Jacobs delivers the most poignant definition of Liberal Tolerance in her piece published in the HUFFPOST : Tolerance and Liberalism, (Re)Defined.
Neither one is about being required to accept all people’s viewpoints all the time, especially when those viewpoints are themselves the opposite of tolerant and liberal, containing bias, prejudice, hate, or a belief that someone other than the self is less-than the self.
To be clear: Tolerance in America is about respecting (and celebrating) the equal/human rights of all people in this country. It is not about begrudgingly allowing other people to exist while lobbying against their equal/human rights. And it is not about accepting the viewpoint that lobbying against peoples’ equal/human rights is a legitimate course of action.
I can accept and live among the very people who hate what I am. I am tolerant. I accept your differences.
I cannot accept nor tolerate the irresponsible sharing of fake news and I cannot tolerate lies
I can be tolerant of ignorance; because knowledge will cure it.
Some say you can’t fix stupid. I believe you can. All it needs is a willingness to take the extra steps and access sources that are available to grow your knowledge base. All it takes is a thirst for it.
I would have to say that you can’t fix smugness. Some people just don’t give a shit.
I can only hope that a conservative person might read this piece and possibly get some insight or compassion. I hope they might take a pause and see that these people that they want to treat as second class citizens are all around us and they just want to be left alone to love their families, provide for their children, work hard and be responsible citizens pursuing their happiness.
Stop and think about the real reason you discriminate.
My upbringing was wonderful. I was not taught to hate. I am grateful for that.
I did grow up feeling like I didn’t belong. Not always…but I felt misplaced. At times invisible. I was a misfit. I am a Misfit.
This misfit will continue to defend what I cherish. I will disagree with bigotry and discrimination. I will do this with a fervor that is not to be misconstrued as Liberal Intolerance
It’s something else, it’s a virtue I hold dear and embrace in others.
It is Integrity.