The Day I Became A Liberal
Today’s article is a little different from the others. I refrain from posting political opinions on my blog, because they only incite harassment and insults, and frankly, I have something better to do with my time than watching the comment section like a kindergartner watches kids.
But this isn’t really politics. Or at least it walks a finer line between politics and meaning-of-life stuff, so what the hell, here it comes…
I never considered myself a liberal. Until, one day, the word was spat at me in utter disgust by a right-wing Christian American, and like the scarlet letter, it henceforth stuck.
In reality, I never really classified myself as anything politically. I just followed my own moral code. My political ideology is heavily influenced by idealism and my Buddhist faith. So here are a few key facts:
I hold a strong believe that all living beings are created equal, and none should enjoy more or less rights than any other.
I believe that communication, understanding, and curiosity are always better alternatives to hate and prejudice.
I trust that every person is capable of good, but inevitably they are also capable of evil.
I believe in the power of a smile, the magic of kindness, and the enlightenment tolerance brings.
I have come to experience that we’re all fundamentally flawed so pointing fingers at someone else is really pointing a finger at oneself.
I rely on science and facts above everything else—even religion.
I consider books to be among the most sacred things on Earth, because they hold the knowledge of the people before us. They are the only devices on Earth capable of time travel by relaying thoughts written hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, to our modern brains.
I saw that those who claim to know it all, really know nothing, and the truly wise are those having realized they know only a fraction of what’s out there.
Over the years, I’ve been called many things. A dreamer. A free thinker. An esoteric. A hippie. A witch who’ll burn in hell (kudos to a Christian extremist). A feminazi. A democrat. A socialist. A humanist. A communist.
In short, almost anything you can think of, except for a capitalist. Which is spot on, because it’s the one thing I’m not, and I am not afraid to admit it.
Money never meant anything to me, nor did the prospect of becoming rich. I believe that if you cannot be happy in the present moment, money won’t be able to make any change in providing that happiness. Money can lead to obsession: the more you have, the more you want, and it’s never enough. „Happiness“ when built upon financial wealth is always just one more purchase away. An eternal chase.
I decided long ago not to participate in the lottery of life every week, waiting for luck to strike. That one lucky draw of the right numbers that will make me a millionaire. Instead I decided I want to do something different with my life. Something I can control. Something that doesn’t require me to sit around and wait for the right draw.
Something that I can feel at peace with. Something I can simply exist with. Something I can look back to when I’m on my deathbed and think „I had a good life, with many valuable experiences“ instead of „Shit, and what good is my bank account now?“
So, no, I’m definitely not a capitalist. I always knew that, and I don’t take offense to people calling me out on it. It is what it is. Taking offense to what I’m not is like the dog taking offense to having four legs. It’s just a fact.
Capitalism is just another form of government, another system. It will come and go, such as colonialism, imperialism, and nationalism have come and gone (and in some cases come and gone again). The world is in a state of constant flux and change, and our lifespan merely covers the blink of an eye.
We desperately struggle to give meaning to that tiny fraction of what might as well be eternity. Finding meaning is senseless. Because the world makes no sense. Our lives make no sense. We are being born, and we die. What for, and what ever process started it is, we will most likely never know. We don’t even know what the universe is.
Yet, we still try to give significance to it all, and with all our ignorance, that is only possible through simplifying the world. That isn’t inherently a bad thing. On the contrary. Our brains have evolved to be highly capable pattern recognizers. It’s what helped us survive and evolve. Unfortunately, sometimes that can backfire and we become obsessed with looking for patterns, even if there are none. So we simplify until our brains can classify what we’re faced with into a familiar category.
Once we can classify something, it is no longer unknown. No longer a source of fear, because now we can access a set of rules to deal with it. It’s all very logical, reasonable behavior, actually.
So one day, all that I am was simplified, reduced, and compressed—and I became a liberal.
Why? Because the person who said it simply didn’t agree with me, and they needed to stamp me as „the other“. It’s easier to hate the other, because they are removed from ourselves.
It has always been us against the rest of the world—because there was a time when the rest of the world was roaming the forests with their bats out to kill us. Just like we roamed the same forests out to kill them.
There never was nor is there a difference between us, but again, things become easier if we pretend there is. It’s easier to hate. Easier to judge. Easier to kill. Easier to distance ourselves from that which we don’t agree with (but which we are frequently guilty of too).
But one thing puzzles me to this day. What made this person think liberal would make an adequate vilification?
I looked the etymology of the word up. Liberal comes from the ancient Latin word liber, which means free. Liberalis, which is where the modern word liberal was derived from means, free person or free mind as opposed to those forced to live in slavery without choice.
Huh, interesting, I thought. I actually like that. I had been called a free thinker before, so I could live with being called a free person.
Amazingly in recent years, people have been creating new „insults“ which I do not deem insulting. In Germany we now have the insult Gutmensch—which essentially translates into good person.
So when did being a „free person“ or a „good person“ become something despicable, I wonder? Aren’t those the values we are all told to strive after and live by? Isn’t that what is constantly propagated? That we are FREE nations. That we are the GOOD guys in this global game of thrones?
So why do the same people who propagate these things then use them as an insult to those people living by those values? Or is this really a new, strange form of worship?
I am confused by this new world which at the same time idealizes and condemns the same concept.
However, if advocating for human rights, equal rights, and freedom of choice in all personal things make me a liberal—a free person—in some people’s eyes, I‘ll wear that badge proudly, as a medal of honor, because I am free.
Free to think for myself. Free to make my own choices. Free to live by my own rules.
I am simply me.