I consider myself a liberal. I believe that part of the role of government is to ensure equality, establish policies that promote equal opportunity, and enact laws that protect individual rights. It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in personal responsibility, a free market, or a strong national defense. Although these things are generally attributed to the conservative viewpoint, I think most liberals would agree that all of the above are important.
A problem we have in America right now is that disagreement can be triggered by the mere mention of a policy or program based on how right or left it is. This became painfully clear the other day when a friend recanted a story about how people who fly American flags are now summarily assumed to be conservatives, perhaps even racist.
After a journey of self-reflection, I can say that I am very much anti-racist, and I fly the American flag. I also listen to conservative talk radio. I don’t agree with everything I hear–far from it. But rather than dismissing the viewpoints of people who don’t align with mine, I decided I needed to create space to better understand those beliefs.
What I have come to believe is that regardless which direction we lean, we are, for the most part, all driven by an internal compass about what is right (as in good, not the political slant). Right, left, center, these are used to describe our beliefs about government and society, but should not be used to measure good or bad.
A possible solution to the division we’re experiencing is to look deeper into the underlying motivation for the things others promote. By doing so, we might be able to see that their intentions–like our own–are indeed righteous. After all, what makes America great is our diversity.
We should celebrate our differences, not the opposite. And if we are all going to be invested in what sets our nation apart from a lot of the world, then we should stop tolerating mass generalizations based on political views and be willing to call out people who are exploiting our differences for their own personal (or political) gain.