I recently watched a video where CNN’s Fareed Zakaria made me realise that a lot of us — including me — that claim to be liberal in our views are really not liberal, in fact.
Fareed’s headline was “Liberals think they’re tolerant, but they’re not”. I must admit, I did feel a tad bit defensive when I first saw the headline, but I immediately remembered that I shouldn’t “judge”. So, I watched the video and was surprised when I was made to realise the error of my ways! His premise was that if you cannot entertain views with which we disagree without silencing them, you are not really liberal, after all. Essentially, a lot of liberals are partisan-minded; no room for opposing views.
In the video, Fareed was talking about how Liberals actively shoot down and silence Conservative views and voices. Irony. More specifically, he made reference to the students who stood up and walked out of Mike Pence’s commencement address, and the ones who booed Betsy DeVos while she was giving a speech.
I wouldn’t have walked out, neither would I have booed. But that’s only because I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me. I’d have sat in either addresses quietly criticising and indiscreetly rolling my eyes. 🙊
I will unapologetically and unreservedly tell you that I’m a literal liberal. I believe very strongly in everyone doing as they please; each man to his own lifestyle. There’s a verse in the bible that I actually got an idea of this from: Romans 14:22-23 in the Message version. The major thing I picked from the verses is that you don’t impose your opinions or lifestyle on others, or you’re out of line.
Since finding that nugget of wisdom, I started to make a conscious effort to allow people air their opinions when in a discussion. In fact, when I hear other people countering what I’m saying with their own opinions and trying to win over my reasoning, I wonder why they’re clearly trying to impose their own opinions on me. But listening to Fareed, and imagining myself in that audience and the reality of how I would have reacted, I had to have a honest moment and admit that I would’ve silently criticised everything I didn’t agree with. That is not the meaning or an expression of the quality “liberal”.
I don’t I take care not to impose my own beliefs on others, I don’t always respect the outcome of their freedom of speech. I roll my eyes, I sneer, I make jokes out of their opinions. If I really want to be liberal, I think I should let their opinions meet an open mind, instead of one that closes after the owner makes her point.
That’s it! Ashamedly, I do have a selectively open mind. My mind is closed to what my mind is preset on. I can be quite unyielding in my resolutions and in some of my beliefs, and I’m exceptionally good at closing my mind off to things. So, my resolution is now to “understand where other people are coming from” by listening to (not hearing) what they have to say, and without drowning them out, as far as possible 👀.
Unapologetically, I will remain resolute on some things, irrespective of liberally listening to and exploring other viewpoints. But I will try (writing is my way of holding myself accountable) to be more “liberal”, because I won’t stop tagging myself as liberal. “Liberal” is my own utopia; I refuse to be close-minded, when open-minded is an option.
So, my constant question to myself will be: if you can’t handle other people expressing their freedom of speech — especially “speeches” that contradict your preconceived viewpoint on the topic — are you really liberal?
P.S. it took so much discipline to write this! 😪 I had DJ Deemaks’ Afrogroove (Summer 16) mix playing (via my in-ear earphones 😻) and I was dancing in the spirit. 🤦🏾
Until Wednesday, ✌🏾.