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On Isms and Liberalism

12/28/2007

The suffix “ism” refers to one or more descriptive words for any given ideological, philosophical and religious beliefs, whether they are conservatism, liberalism, Mormonism, etc; other suffixes apply as well. When trying to define these terms, we have the following, and likely more, to consider: What is the root definition of the descriptive word intended to encompass the broadest possible definition of the belief system in question; what was the intention of its founder(s); what are its most accepted tenets; what are its most consistently espoused tenets? Answering those questions is crucial for determining not only if we want to be associated with a particular belief system, but for knowing if we both understand and deserve to claim an association with it.
It is not that an erroneous claim of being part of a belief system is bad, it is that claiming an association with a belief system as a cover for failure is cowardly, even when compared to the offensiveness of a mischaracterization of that belief system.

In my experience, the above behavior most often applies to self- described liberals. I will agree that the characterization of liberalism and liberals is sometimes, perhaps often, unfair, and I am not attacking liberalism, but I am criticizing some liberals. What I mean to ask of liberals is that they defend themselves by what they are as they are individually, and not refer back to what others say they have to be by the simple claim of membership in liberalism.

While there might never be widely accepted litmuses to prove or disprove the merits of a claim of membership in any given belief system, my own opinion of liberalism is that it is the greastest of belief systems for its inherent adaptability and apparent primary motivatation of global well-being. To acheive this is to reach saintly worth.

One is not a liberal because he claims to be, but because he is by how he acts.

As a liberal, you are not only free of the constraints of harmful selfishness, but also of equally destructive pride. Intellectual honesty is not a weakness, it is a justification for the pride others should have in you. That is what a liberal is to me, not arrogant but humble, and not certain but inquisitive, and has the final goal of making the world better.

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