To me, Liberalism is like homosexuality. I cannot recall ever choosing to be one. (Liberal, that is) Truly, I don’t think most Liberals ever consciously made that choice. When complex issues of the day get reduced to red/blue, I think most of us rely on what feels right. Lets not confuse this with “what feels good.” Anyway, this post isn’t really about Liberal vs Conservative, because I really think those two paths intersect quite frequently, and I am trying to eschew labels all I can.
I am currently taking inventory on what it is I spend time and attention with that occurs outside of my home. People that know me will tell you that I am of course involved with Democratic Party politics, and that I have advocated on behalf of undocumented workers, Gay/Lesbian rights, worker’s rights, and to a much smaller degree, environmental protection. The first three of those strike me as basic human rights issues, and I will never waiver in my positions on them. I believe that I have a great deal to learn about what I and my family can do WRT the environment. Its daunting. I will say that since we are attempting this together, it has been fun doing this as a family.
If I say then, that basic human rights is the foundation for the bulk of my positions on any given issue, why have I been so lax about certain issues where basic human rights violations are part and parcel? The death penalty comes to mind. Access to affordable health care. Unfair application of the criminal justice system. I’m sure there are others. Even trade, which is about as boring to me as opera, is rife with some of the worst human rights violations in recent history.
What to do? Like I said, I frequently take inventory. Until recently, I owned two gas-guzzling 4 wheel drive vehicles, one of which I loved like a pet. I was determined to change my driving habits, and my consumption of fossil fuels, so I sold them both, and replaced them with vehicles that will do the job and use far less gasoline. Check.
I shop at Walmart. There, I said it. I gave myself a pass on this because I am a busy person, and everything I needed was under one big ugly roof. I even used to say to myself, “Thank God for WalMart, where else would some of these people work?” I mean, how ugly is that? But I know I’ve said it, if not out loud, at least to myself, and I’m not proud of it. I think it was easier to justify when my kids were small, and toys and bikes and diapers and groceries were all there in one convenient location. For the most part, we’ve stopped buying useless widgets we don’t need, and likewise we have altered our food buying habits by learning to cook more, with less. Eventually, we hope to raise our own meat, and at least supplement what we buy with what we grow. Even if we don’t succeed at this, I just can’t in good conscience continue to hand them my money. I do not intend to judge others that do shop there, but once I became aware of certain things, and seen the damage WalMart does to communities, I just cannot personally contribute to it. Check.
Now I’m tired. Maybe its my age. It takes energy to remain outraged for extended periods of time. Then I get pissed at other people for not sharing my outrage, and get all outraged again, then I get tired, and the cycle repeats all over.
But I think that after I conduct my inventory, I should at the very least prioritize my advocacy. A friend of mine has recently called my attention to an inmate sitting on Death Row that she feels shouldn’t be there. I will read up on it, and if I agree with her I’ll help her launch her petition, because she asked, and it feels right to do it. A man’s life is at stake, it seems worth the ten minutes of my life to read about it.
Really, y’all, I’m not sure what prompted this post, other than the fact that I hate it when Liberalism gets reduced to “doing what feels good” and nothing else. I have to tell ya, it would feel a hell of a lot better to just drive my damn truck, throw my Whopper wrappers out of the window in the WalMart parking lot, and then go in and buy my kids Halo 3.