“If a conservative is one who adheres to traditional methods or views and a liberal is one who is open-minded and not strict in the observance of traditional or established forms or ways, then those two descriptions describe healthy marital unions and friendships and working relationships and parent-child negotiations as readily as it does political differences.”
My daddy, in his 80s and during the late 2000s asked, “when did liberal become a dirty word?” This is the same man whose mama took him to see the electric lights turned on in Cleveland and who described the Great Depression as one of the most important times of his generation, “People pulled together to help each other,” he said, “we needed each other.” He’s the same man who called me to ask what a blog was after hearing it referred to regularly on the news and in his 90s answered my morning check-in calls with, “I’m good. It’s a choice I make every day.”
Choices. We make them every day. Words. We choose them every day. Differences. They make our world what it is.
If a conservative is one who adheres to traditional methods or views and a liberal is one who is open-minded and not strict in the observance of traditional or established forms or ways, then those two descriptions describe healthy marital unions and friendships and working relationships and parent-child negotiations as readily as it does political differences.
We don’t all agree about everything in this United States and hopefully, those differences and imperfections move us forward, together, on the path of small-d democracy or as Franklin said, “ a republic if you can keep it.” We have somehow managed to create community in spite of ourselves.
Why in 2023 do we find ourselves using words as regular and cruel ammunition to condemn others? For example, why would someone call me a baby killer because my miscarriage required a D&C? Yes, a D&C is an abortion, even though abortion was not the term used at that time to describe how my health needs as a patient were handled. How could I have a health procedure that kept me healthy after a devastating loss and not today fight for the right for other women to make the choices they need for their reproductive health with their doctor? Does that make me liberal? Or did I choose to make a conservative and traditional choice with my doctor to take care of the child I had waiting at home by taking care of my health as his mother?
Maybe life, and the words we use, isn’t as simple as those sitting in elected office try to tell us as they throw out buzz words to incite the masses and garner more power. We need to listen carefully and be aware of our reactions. I’m certainly guilty of too quick of a reaction to those things that easily line up with my basic views and make me feel virtuous. It’s sometimes a battle to put on the brakes and do the work to find the answers I need to hear the right words in order to make the right choices and to eventually try and make the best difference in my corner of the world to make it just a little bit better.
Daddy certainly wasn’t perfect. He was stubborn and opinionated. And equally curious and inquisitive. And basically kind and positive. He was at my house on the day he passed and that morning he looked out the window and said, “What a great day to be alive.”
I hope the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as I age and as I am followed by my son and grandchildren. May we embrace the day. May we embrace our differences. May we watch our words. And may we watch our choices as we maneuver this life we share with our neighbors.
“Dear Neighbor” authors are united in a belief that civility and passion can coexist. We believe curiosity and conversation make us a better community.