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Sunday, September 22, 2013

We're All Conservatives (We're Also All Liberals)

We're all guilty of applying, and misapplying, labels that add to the polarization and mistrust that are so pervasive these days.

Take the labels "conservative" and "liberal". They can have such diverse meanings depending on the contexts and persons applying them.

Truth is, I have yet to meet "liberals" who are not decidedly conservative in some ways and around some issues. We're all "old order" when it comes to certain changes creeping into our congregations or communities. There are so many things we'd much rather keep just the way they are, thank you.

And that's not bad. Every family, every faith community, every nation needs people invested in preserving the best of their traditions, who insist that not everything new is necessarily better.

On the other hand, those same "conservatives", around some issues, see themselves as innovators and as progressives--"liberals" if you please. Ask your parents and other people you grew up with if you have preserved and prized everything you were ever taught.

Not that this is all bad, of course. Without some change, societies and organizations, including religious ones, would become stagnant and stale.

But none of us is totally one or the other extreme on all issues. The line between liberal/conservative polarities goes right through each one of us.

Which is as it should be. So why not stop making generalizations and creating caricatures of each other? We are all far more complex and more interesting than that.

As an example, just as the stereotype of political liberalism (above) is irrational, it would be equally unfair to describe political conservatives as "the miserly who elect the heartless to refuse help to the truly needy."

Meanwhile, just call me a conservative liberal, or a liberal conservative. Much like you, I'm a blend of both.

Or better yet, just call me Harvey. And let's take time to listen to each other.
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