Why I’m a liberal, and why I won’t apologise for it

Ignore political parties for now. No Labour, Tories, Democrats or Republicans. Just Left and Right. On some issues I’m a liberal because I agree strongly with a particular position. On others, it’s because I heartily disagree with the opposing view. For instance, I believe that government is there primarily not to protect or watch over its citizens, but to serve them. Often this does mean engaging in military action on their behalf, but that is not the primary requisite of serving someone. The object of serving is to make someone else’s life better than it would be without your involvement. More often than not with government, this will mean financial assistance. And not for everyone. For those who need it. The rich don’t need financial assistance; if they did we’d call them something else. It’s the poor that need help. It’s the people with more than one job that still struggle with the rent each month. These are the people that need returns from tax cuts. Take your spin about investing in the economy and shove it – there are people living in poverty not halfway around the world, not anonymous bodies of another nation, but on your doorstep. In America, estimates put the number of people living in poverty at 87 million. Eighty Seven million. One in five children. And this is the richest country in the world. Make no mistake I don’t think the Left are saints who can fix this overnight with a sensible solution, but truthfully, I don’t think the Right gives a damn.

For the most part, I see the Right, not just in America but around the world, as morally corrupt. There are those who base their political beliefs on the carefully edited words of people who told stories two thousand years ago. These sort of people try to cling to a vision of the world which says women are liars and whores, gays are evil and it’s okay to sell your daughter into slavery. There are those who seek to usurp the governmental system of their respective nation to enhance the quality of their own lives with no regard for others that may be less well off than them, and then there are simply the racists of our time, who cry bloody murder every time someone with dark skin steps off the boat. I have no wish to associate with any of these people and though I’m sure many of them would claim to be as or even more moral than I, this is something I do not accept for a moment.

Speaking of morality, there are more clean cut issues of division which I have strong opinions on. I believe that a justice system that allows for torture and premeditated execution under the law, is no justice system worth adhering to. An eye for an eye is an insulting term used only to mask the basest of human instincts; the desire for revenge.  Law exists to protect the good people of society. When that same law allows for such barbarism in the name of justice, people become desensitised to these acts and when it finally reaches the point where popular pleasure is taken from the suffering, humiliation and death of another Human being, society can no longer be called good. We have come to institute and respect the law because we realise that Human nature can often lead to abhorrent acts if uncontrolled, even in the name of a greater good. The law represents a standard to which we hold ourselves, and if we break it even to punish someone who has themselves broken it, we render it obsolete and then have no right to punish the person for they have only broken a law we would ignore ourselves.

I believe in a woman’s right to choose because I don’t believe the joining of two cells constitutes life to the degree where ending it would be murder. I see Human life as self-aware, sentient and intelligent. I do not believe that an early-stage foetus matches these criteria. I do believe that the state controlling what a woman can or cannot do concerning her own body is a desperate hold-on to an age where the fairer sex were little more than furniture with reproductive organs and such a mindset is abominable. There are places in what is generally referred to as the civilised world where rape victims impregnated by their attackers are refused dosages of Levonelle because to use the morning-after pill would be akin to murder. Ignoring the fact that such a drug prevents contraception rather than terminates a life, the world is divided on whether or not a foetus is a lifeform in the same sense as us and should be afforded the same rights – with such uncertainty, the benefit of the doubt must go to the person whose life we know to be fact, whose entire life we know will be changed with a pregnancy and whom should feature not as part of a committee, but the sole abritrator of what happens inside their bodies.

I believe schools should the shining centre of all communities, with teachers making four times what they do now provided they do a good job. I believe the ability to learn with the speed and capability that we have is one of our greatest talents, perhaps second only to the ability to speak. I believe religious dogma should be thrown out of laboratories with great discrimination, and brought into a classroom where students are taught that many modern religions share traits and stories, that it’s disputed whether Judas betrayed Jesus and that Islam means “to make peace” in Arabic. I believe children should be taught a second language from their first year at school, that the loss of any taboo surrounding such subjects will help strengthen not only their bonds with other communities, but their understanding of those communities as well. I believe a national anthem can be sung in any language and still hold the same messages of hope and pride for those that sing it.

I believe the environment is in serious danger of getting damaged beyond the point of no return in a much shorter period of time than most people think and around the globe, the Right is in the pocket of Big Oil and car manufacturers who refuse to admit that they are the ones making this planet uninhabitable and so do nothing to counter it.

There are some things I can understand and in some contexts agree with the Right on. Not every situation calls for a large government. National defence cannot be ignored as an extravagance. Nationalism is not by itself, an evil thing. Our history and heritage is important, even when it documents our wrongs because it’s part of who we are and we have a duty to learn from it. With proper training and registration, some people should be allowed to own firearms. For the vast majority of subjects however, I’m not a liberal because I looked at the differing opinions, weighed the pros and cons and came to a decision, but because I looked at the differing opinions and saw a frightening number of people on the Right display a loathing for their neighbours. Whether because of sex, skin colour, religion, geographical origins, education, time and time again I saw hatred when it came to their neighbours. The Welfare State is a bad idea because most people will simply scrounge off the government without an attempt to find work. A public health program is a bad idea because people from other countries will invade and take advantage of our generosity. Asylum seekers should be designated illegal immigrants because that makes it easier to turn them away. All serious criminals should be executed because there is never any hope of change for them. People should be monitored by CCTV, their library records should be checked, email should be filtered, any criticism reported and shut down where possible because you just can’t trust most people. People who voice concerns are unpatriotic, countries that dissent are aiding terrorists, universities that encourage an open mind are the breeding pots of elite liberals.

Well I didn’t make it to university, but even without that I don’t hate my fellow man. I believe that when it comes down to it, we’re all Humans and that means we have a duty to treat each other as we would wish to be treated ourselves. Offer help when it is needed, show respect even when we don’t fully understand something and try with all our might to realise that because a person’s practises are different, they are not automatically wrong. I don’t hate my fellow Man. And for that reason more than anything else, I’m a liberal.

And I’m damned proud of it.

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