Being Liberal Where It Matters
Liberalism is a source of the modern welfare state, but does not refer to social liberalism alone. Philosophically, liberalism is marked by "richness and diversity" in views on the meaning of humanity and society. Being an individualist, egalitarian and universalist - also against pressures of social collectivism - also in matters of belief and of the heart otherwise - is acclaimed. Scholars of our times have praised the influence of liberal internationalism. Most of the world's richest and most powerful nations are liberal democracies.
A human can do a lot worse than holding fair, balanced, liberal views and go for venting them well in some large social network.
In sect and large sects - religions - members are typically told what to believe, how to act - they are doctrinated and dictated, and often do not see the guys "in the back room" who are served by their folly and willy-nilly conduct, which tend to get grave consequences too.
Church decline and liberal theology go hand in hand. What is liberal Christianity? A fully adequate answer would demand reference to Biblical criticism and to being very alive to various challenges to belief from modern philosophy.
Someone: "What is Liberal Christianity, and Should it be saved?"
Ask someone who knows, not someone who guesses. Besides, 'saved' has many senses and meanings, so "saved in what respect' needs to be taken into account. And then there is 'saved from' and 'saved to' also.
Ask a conservative type and hear things similar to: "Forgive me for saying so, but liberal Christianity does not hold that all of mankind is guilty of sin and condemned to hell; that God sacrificed His Son to bear the punishment for sins of all mankind - in particular those that were saved before him; that the erroneous Bible is the perfect Word of God; or that the only path to salvation is through believing stupidly; or that Jesus was God Himself.
"Liberal Christians further side with the view that women deserve the same rights and opportunities that society grants to men. They want to protect the air and water from pollution and protect some unspoiled wilderness, and some of them strive for it too. And they point out that most of the world's prosperous nations are liberal democracies that provide their citizens with a strong safety net, which could be needed. They may also say if a girl or a woman becomes pregnant without enough of what it takes to get and raise a child, no sermons can change that . . . They further cherish honesty about what's great and what could be better.
"Such ideas help liberal Christians to be more comfortable in the notion that 'God is love and brimming with welcoming acceptance'".
If this sum-up reaches cardinal issues and marks of liberal Christianity, is liberal Christianity worth tending to? And could we value the work liberal Christians have done in providing good reasons to reject false tenets of clowning Christianity, an insane and hollow shell or a thin old gruel that offers little food and cultural benefits?
There are many types of liberalism. [Cf. Standford Encyclopedia, sv. "Liberalism"]
The word 'liberal' derives from 'liberty' and has to do with 'being free'. The word 'liberal' is used in politics as well as philosophically.
Who is a liberal, open and tolerant? Open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways? Adhering to individual rights for most parts?
It matters to clarify who such folks are, because folks influence one another, and some for good, even.
The stylised lily may tell about liberalism too. Beneath the blue ring of traditional outlets, deep truths lie. They come to the fore through the "ring of tradition", that is, traditions or traditional ways of viewing this and that, of traditional ways to handle issues "liberally" too. The ring suggests the restraints involved in a tradition. It is a "gathering ring" that is not always easy to catch sight of, but if it breaks, as when a liberal party splits, one may realise how important for the flourishing of vital liberalism it may be to maintain enough candid solidarity. The main impetus is represented by the petal in the middle. The petal to the left may serve as a token of liberal ideas that may have been flourishing at some time in earlier times, but are not mainstream today. The petal to the right may serve to illustrate impetuses that hold future fruitfulness in store somehow.
The stylised fleur-de-lis (lily flower) is one way to point at main features of what we call liberalism. To understand its core, its deep-going ideas, some deliberation may serve.
The flower of liberalism has had and still has many torrents, or "petals". Some liberals may focus on great development of mental capacities. There is a stress on individual freedom, and that the state serves and protects the rights of its citizens instead of going against them where it matters. Liberalism seeks to "protect the individual from arbitrary external restraints that prevent the full realization of his potentialities" [Ebu "liberalism"]. It stands against dogmatic, often cruel and hard authoritarianism and the under-dog servility it demands of the masses.
Wikipedia informs that to value liberty and equal rights is significant. Most liberals support free and fair elections, human rights, free trade, and freedom of religion.
Being liberal in social arenas
The English philosopher John Locke is often identified as the Father of Liberalism. The 1776 United States Declaration of Independence drew upon liberal ideas of unalienable rights to shake off the rule of the British monarchy. Further, the United States Bill of Rights of 1789 guaranteed certain natural rights - they were liberal ideals.
The French Revolution of 1789 is often associated with "the triumph of liberalism". Just a few decades after the French Revolution, liberalism went global, yet it was in Britain that the future character of liberalism would take shape. Moreover, the Liberal Party in time laid the groundwork for the future British welfare state. This new kind of liberalism would sweep over much of the world in the 1900s.
The Great Depression fundamentally changed the liberal world. Modern liberalism got wings in the 1930s as a response to the Depression, and changed the field of economics, taking the position that totally free markets were not ideal any longer, and that hard economic times required intervention and investment from the state. Moreover, the government was required to stimulate the economy strategically until private funds could start flowing.
In the United States, President Roosevelt's social liberal program, the New Deal of 1933, proved very popular with the American public, and was followed by a "deluge of deficit spending and public works programs".
The Allies prevailed in the war against autocratic regimes by 1945. The Cold War followed. The fall of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia at the end of the 20th century allowed the formation of many liberal parties throughout Eastern Europe. In our times the rise of China challenges Western liberalism with a combination of authoritarian government and capitalism.
Some liberal philosophical ideas had precursors in classical antiquity. Liberal philosophy has been characterized as containing "richness and diversity." The objectives of liberal theorists and philosophers have differed across cultures and continents. As a result, there are many sides or variations to liberalism, including ethical, humanist and perfectionist, to name a some of them.
Yet, liberalism is basically a philosophy about the meaning of humanity and society. Among common strands in liberal thought are being individualist, egalitarian and universalist.
The individualist element avers the ethical primacy of the human being against the pressures of social collectivism, the egalitarian element assigns the same moral worth and status to all individuals, . . . and the universalist element affirms the moral unity of the human species and marginalizes local cultural differences,
says the Wikipedia.
Through different strands and traditions, scholars have identified many common sides to liberal thought: believing in equality and individual liberty, supporting private property and individual rights, supporting the idea of limited constitutional government, and recognising the importance of such as autonomy and reaching agreements.
"Liberals are committed to build and safeguard free, fair and open societies, in which they seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity . . . Liberalism aims to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity," says Liberal International.
In North America, unlike in Europe, the word liberalism almost exclusively refers to social liberalism in contemporary politics.
The civil rights movement in the United States during the 1960s strongly highlighted the liberal crusade for equal rights as well as for liberal reform.
Scholars of our times have praised the influence of liberal internationalism. Most of the world's richest and most powerful nations are liberal democracies.
A 2010 survey by scientists at Harvard and at The University of California at San Diego suggests that liberalism is at least partially explained by a genetic predisposition toward seeking out new experiences. Further, a person's tendency to hold liberal views, may manifest in connection with having a "large social network".
Liberal where it matters
Towards yourself: Don't be harsh, authoritarian, on yourself and dear ones.
In relation to close ones, aim for sound balance.
At work go for an all right, pleasant environment and pleasant, OK co-workers; not just hard workers.
Politically: Make a lot of liberal programs too.
At best: Being liberal in your home. I would take up TA (Transactional Analysis), for it helps, as documented from several workplaces. I would lend ear to Haim G. Ginott's ideas too, for he helps communicating gently enough without being autocratic or wishy-washy.
Christianity is at bottom dominating and far from as liberal as Potiphar [Genesis 37:36 ff].
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EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica = Britannica Online.
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WP: Wikipedia, sv. "Liberalism."
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