of the great fallacies in modern lore is that liberalism stands for nothing
and liberals have no core beliefs. The right wing, from the pope to the
president, has impugned the left by unfairly portraying it as a valueless
movement mired in moral relativism.
This could not be further from the truth. Indeed, the left is the backbone
of freedom, the defender of personal liberty, the guarantor of free speech
and religious worship and the nurturer of democratic movements across the
globe. Far from believing in nothing, wherever liberal democratic values
prevail, civilizations flourish and emancipated people thrive.
The cornerstone of liberalism is the idea that each person is endowed with
the precious gift of liberty and can freely choose his or her own path — for
better or worse. We believe this is crucial to greater enlightenment, personal
growth and ultimate fulfillment. It also offers the best opportunity for
people to realize their dreams and achieve their spiritual promise.
Liberalism encourages exploration and education. It reveres science and
celebrates the inquisitive mind. Indeed, liberal values are often superior
to those held on the right, because they are tenaciously subjected to rigorous
examination. Beliefs that are questioned and still prevail are the ones
that stand the test of time. Far from moral relativism, liberalism searches
for the ultimate value in which to build a moral foundation: Truth.
Right-wing movements across the globe often seem uninterested in such truth
if it contradicts their obdurate belief systems. Reality averse, they are
woefully unable to adjust to new understandings, burgeoning ideas and cultural
Liberals believe in the power of reason, while conservatives are often
just plain reactionary. Republican power is directly related to fertilizing
fear and fomenting fanaticism.
Modern conservatives are often discomfited by the complexities of life
and demand answers to the world’s many unanswerable questions. They
arrogantly and disingenuously claim to have absolute truth, while liberalism
boldly proclaims that it does not have such ubiquitous powers of understanding.
Liberalism is for those who are unafraid to fully embrace the magnificent
journey of life and tackle the great mysteries of our time.
Modern conservatives will claim that liberals are sacrilegious for holding
such beliefs. To the contrary, liberals are often extraordinarily religious
or spiritual people. However, they diverge with conservatives in that they
believe the strongest faith is one that is subject to healthy skepticism
and painstaking examination. In encouraging people to explore all faiths — free
of guilt, shame, coercion or fear — liberalism also offers people
the greatest number of spiritual options.
Conservatives often attack gay rights because they know it is the mark
of a free society that abhors authoritarian control. If a country treats
gay people with dignity and respect and offers them equality, it signals
that the country bases its decisions on sound education, rationalism and
science. This inevitably leads toward success in all spheres of life.
Countries that ostracize and penalize homosexuals tend to be superstitious,
rigid and anti-intellectual. This almost uniformly leads to poverty, war,
oppression and ultimately tyranny.
A cynic might argue that the United States is not as gay friendly as other
countries, yet, it is the richest country in the world. True, but nearly
all of America’s cities and states that are centers of profit and
creativity offer increased levels of acceptance for homosexuals. States
most hostile to gay people are relatively backwards, with lower levels
of education and income. In essence, gay rights is the canary in the coal
mine for freedom and prosperity. Unfortunately, the bird is hacking, signaling
a period of increased oppression and a dangerous erosion of freedom. It
is up to us to rescue this nation from the hazardous, retrograde path it
is now on.
It is time we proudly stand up for what we believe in. If we don’t
defend our values, our opponents will define them. Progressive does not
mean passive. Our compassion does not mean that we lack passion. Our respect
for other beliefs does not signify that we don’t hold strong beliefs
of our own that we are willing to fight for. Indeed, our power comes from
our ability to adjust to reality. We are secure in our values, yet humble
enough to adapt if our viewpoints are proven obsolete. Wherever liberal
democracy takes root, a strong and proud record of economic, moral, social
and political achievement follows.
In this midterm election year, I hope that you will be inspired to defend
your values and work to create a better society where all people can live
in dignified harmony and achieve the pinnacle of their social, spiritual
and human potential. In other words, create a more liberal world.