Did that title grab your eye? How did you feel about me when you read it? Maybe you are liberal and it made you angry. Maybe you are a conservative and were enticed to read my sermon because it will embolden your fight against the wretched left. I live in Utah, and I am LDS. That is my community, and in my community I often hear broad generalizations along the following lines, “Liberals are ruining America.” Liberals are not ruining America, and I challenge anybody to a debate who disagrees with me. I can agree that there are some aspects of the “liberal” (and I use that term loosely and with much trepidation because it tends to perpetuate ignorance) movement that are inappropriate, intolerant, and counterproductive. But ruining America? What does ruining America mean? Who really knows, and who cares- just another nonspecific and time-wasting generalization for a whole host of problems. I don’t want to debate that issue because it is many issues, and not the objective of my post. However, one thing is for certain: if we continue to blindly demean those individuals who’s beliefs lie on the opposite side of the political, economic, and social belief spectrum from our own, then as a nation we risk losing some processes that are fundamental to our society. Maybe then we can see what a “ruined America” really looks like. One of these vital processes is public, civil dialogue. When dialogue ceases, the end of progress is not far off.
Ceased Dialogue, Ceased Progress
Few people want to have a civil dialogue with someone who villianizes them. For example, some people I know very well and hold a dear place in my heart have labeled individuals who identify as pro-life and Christian as bigots, misogynists, close-minded, and ignorant. Did you know that I am pro-life, and I am a christian? Would you label me with mean-spirited epithets if we were having a conversation and now had a face to go with your stereotype? I know that abortion rights are an important issue to many, and I want to discuss them in the public arena. I believe that a growing fetus has rights that must be protected because he or she cannot speak for himself or herself, but that a woman’s health must be taken into consideration first and foremost. When do you believe life starts? How do you define a woman’s health in terms of justification for abortion? I want to know! Let’s come together. But we cannot if you label me as a bigot and shut the door to your mind and heart. Progress on the issue ceases. Let me turn the table a bit. I often hear members of my own community say that believers of climate change are ignorant, liberal, politically motivated, and liars. Did you know that I believe in global warming? I have read the the peer-reviewed literature on the subject, and the same scientific principles, processes, and philosophies that are employed to diagnose your family member with a complex disease, or engineer the infrastructure on which your life depends, have been used to determine that the climate is warming, that we are partially responsible for it, and there is possibly a way to reverse our course. You disagree with the hundreds of non-partisan scientists who have drawn these conclusions? Why? If we should avoid doing anything drastic to address climate change, how do you propose we start? I know that your business and commerce interests are vital to your family and community’s well-being, so what are some changes we can make on a local level that will still allow you to maintain your enterprise? But if you want to call me an ignorant and confused liberal and defer to a politician’s opinion rather than the body of scientific research on the subject, then we cannot have this discussion. We then potentially face some devastating future consequences for not acting sooner towards becoming better stewards of the earth. Ceased dialogue and ceased progress.
Health Care Reform Efforts and Extremism
I am saddened when we cannot have these discussions appropriately in the public arena. The following observation is purely anecdotal, but I have noticed over the course of my life how extreme ideologies have affected the performance of congress. One example of this is the inevitable passage of a massively overhauling health care bill. There is nothing bipartisan about this process. The senate leadership plans to bypass republican opposition and obtain the 60 votes necessary to approve the new law. This means that we are passing an epic bill that 40% of the senate opposes. That is definitely not a democratic process, and the Democratic leadership in congress should be ashamed of themselves. But the shame must be shared equally across the aisle. Many congressional Republicans have not proposed any better solutions, and would never concede on a health care reform bill merely out of opposition to President Obama. It is hard to dispute that the health care process in our country needs to be reformed. However, how to accomplish it can and should be disputed, argued, debated, fought over, and wrestled with. Unfortunately, prideful bickering has dominated this debate in congress. Both sides have dug in their heels and now we are going to end up with a hasty, problematic bill that haphazardly addresses one of the most important issues facing our country.
An Invitation to Join My Movement
I invite you to consider the things I have proposed in this spiel. I am not asking you to abandon your moral convictions, because I refuse to abandon mine. Rather, foster understanding in your life. Consider the impact that your broad generalizations have on the intellect and reasoning abilities of you, your family, and your community. We will never agree, nor need we give concessions to “the other side,” on every issue. There are many questions and issues that will be bitterly debated until we all die because the climate has become too frickin’ hot (just joking!), but there are so many problems that can be solved if we use the reasoning ability given to us by God, or organic evolution, or whatever you believe, and avoid the common human tendency to generalize, villainize, and become just plain stubborn.
Mr. B and I have had this conversation on many different nights. I hope that you read through his words carefully, he is so eloquent in defining our thoughts.