Letter From A Liberal

This piece was written by a brilliant friend of mine who has the patience of a saint. She keeps trying to educate one of her friends, who is a conservative Christian…and whose mind is totally closed to anything other than her own beliefs.

I’d like to explain the liberal thought process to you. I think if you understand that you’ll feel less…picked on isn’t quite the right word…inundated? Overwhelmed? The other thing I haven’t had any luck with is wording it so it doesn’t sound snotty. Please believe that I am sincere and not placing any judgments, good or bad, on either of us.

My observation over the years is that conservatives tend to arrive at their opinions based on a gut level instinct. For example: Abortion is killing. Killing is wrong. Therefore abortion is wrong.

We liberals make things much more complicated than that. We tend to form our opinions on dull, dry things like facts and statistics. Using abortion as an example again: First of all, no one is in favor of abortions. Pro-choice is definitely not the same thing as pro-abortion. OK. Women have abortions because, for one reason or another, they don’t want to have a baby. So the first place my brain goes is that people who don’t want kids don’t make very good parents. That leads me to wonder how many children are killed through abuse and/or neglect. It also makes me ask how many children are currently in the foster care system because their parents just didn’t want to be parents. That leads me to question how realistic it is to expect taxpayers to be willing to properly fund child welfare services and foster care. The more overloaded a case worker is the higher the probability that a child in his/her care will be harmed by an incompetent foster parent. I also think about how many kids currently in foster care are available for adoption but for one reason or another no one wants them. When those kids turn 18 they age out of the system and are pretty much just dumped on the streets. And of course that leads me to wonder how many of them end up committing crimes and end up in our penal system which is not only expensive, but it means there was at least one crime victim. So that’s one side of it. The other side is to think about why, exactly, a woman might be reluctant to have a baby. Is she paid enough to support a child? Does she have access to prenatal healthcare? How is she going to pay for the labor and delivery, especially if there are any complications? Once the child is born does she have paid maternity leave or is she going to have to decide between having no income at all for a period of time or going back to work the day after the baby is born. Which brings up the question of child care. Who is going to care for the child while she’s at work? Is *affordable, quality* childcare available to her? And what if she works odd hours and can’t find anyone to watch the child? And in the current political climate is it reasonable to expect taxpayers to be willing to pay for any of this?

That pretty much sums up what goes on in a liberal’s mind. And that liberal wants answers to all those questions before forming an opinion. That’s why I don’t mind being bombarded with information.

If you were to spend any significant amount of time in a room full of liberals the first thing you’d notice is that everybody’s debating everybody. But no one is mad at anyone. One thing you’ll never hear is “you’re not going to change my mind.” We change our minds all the time as new information becomes available. And I think that highlights another cultural difference. Because you have formed your opinions based on emotion you have a lot to lose by admitting you were wrong. It’s personal and I can respect that. But, because my opinions are the result of a labyrinth of questions, changing my mind is no problem at all. The next thing you’ll notice is that if you put a group of 10 liberals in a room and ask them a question, when you come back 15 minutes later you’ll get a bare minimum of 11 different answers. Probably more like 20 or 30.

I don’t want to suggest for a moment that the proverbial “bleeding heart liberal” doesn’t exist. Oh boy does it. It’s just that the cold, dry facts come first and the emotion is built on top of that.

I also wanted to explain something that’s just about me rather than liberals in general. My parents placed a high value on education, both formal and informal. They had a little bookshelf next to the dinner table that held a set of encyclopedias and a bunch of other reference books. Pretty much every night someone would look something up. It might be a question my brother or I had about our school work. It might be something someone saw in the news. It might be that someone was just curious about something. Most of the time it was to settle an argument between me and my dad. So you see, in my world there’s no such thing as too much knowledge.

You were also bothered by my lack of belief in God. First of all, don’t worry about me. I’m fine. I never have and never will try to interfere with your religion. If Christianity works for you, great. Have at it. Enjoy. I really don’t give a rat’s ass what people believe. I care about their behavior. When you post religious things or requests for prayers I do read them. Obviously I don’t pray, but I do take a minute to think about the person. I do care.

There are a lot of avenues leading to the knowledge of right and wrong. I think my parents did a great job of passing their morals and values on to my brother and me. And we each passed ours on to our kids. With every generation some get tossed aside and replaced. That’s life. My grandmother was quite a bigot. I was the only one if the family stupid enough (or brave enough as my mom puts it) to stand up to her. That was a value that really needed to go. At the risk of upsetting you again, I just want to share a link with you that you can check out or not. Euthyphro was written by Plato. It’s about Socrates debating Euthyphro about whether something is good or bad because the gods say so, or do the gods say it’s good or bad because it inherently is. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1642/1642-h/1642-h.htm If you don’t want to read the whole thing, there are tons of summaries online.

Brilliant.
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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Seeing/analyzing on September 24, 2012 at 11:14 am

    That’s a great letter! As someone surrounded by right-wingers, I think one of the greatest difference is fear. Conservatives are terrified of just about everything, and that fear makes many of them vicious.To use a very non-inflammatory example; a couple of years ago I saw a television sit-com that I was sure a co-worker of mine would like. I mentioned it the following day as something that hit all the co-worker’s “like” buttons and I thought she might enjoy it. I got a temper-tantrum meltdown response about how that was never, EVER, EVER going to happen because she ONLY watched Fox. She was so terrified of accidentally being exposed to a ‘breaking news’ report that might contradict her Fox brainwashing that she never changed the station.

    Reply

    • Posted by Carol Zehrung Still on September 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      I think you’re right and that they are deliberately kept afraid. They’re afraid of different religions, cultures, beliefs…all of it. It’s so incredibly sad. And because of it they work very hard to accomplish things that are totally opposite of their own best interests.

      Reply

  2. Posted by leftsideannie on September 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I’ll let my friend know you liked it. She is brilliant. And, well, as for your friend -yikes! – they have medications for that.

    Reply

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