It’s that most wonderful time of year again, when families who are spread far and wide, come together for a few hours each Christmas season to enjoy good food and fine drink. They gather around to exchange gifts, tell stories, and by the end of the day, remind each other why they limit these visits to just once per year. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. But for more of them than I care to admit, I just can’t stomach their politics. And really, it’s not even the politics that bothers me. It’s the underlying unreasonableness of many of their positions which sends me over the top.
Case in point.
With no small degree of futility trying to defend liberal values in the face of a growing chorus of “we are a Judeo-Christian nation,” and “the Bible says gayness is an abomination,” I heard this statement from one of them:
“I disagree with gays.”
OK, here’s something I can maybe talk about. So I start. What do you mean you “disagree?” Like, you disagree with something a gay person has said, or…
“No, I disagree because it just isn’t right?”
Again, what do you mean it isn’t “right?” How is this a question of being right or wrong? Is there some decision being made here that somehow negatively affects you?
“I think it’s a chemical imbalance…it’s just not natural.”
Ugh…would not a chemical imbalance be the very definition of a natural cause? Do I even bother telling them that from a strictly biological perspective, homosexual behavior has been observed throughout the animal kingdom? Do I bother pointing out that, by the way, “natural” doesn’t automatically equate to “helpful” or “desirable?” Most importantly, do I tell them that how real people are treated here and now, is more important than maintaining beliefs in ancient, so-called “holy” texts that command you to kill those same people?
Yes. If you’re me, you say all of those things.
Because young adults are listening in on the conversation from the other room, and they want to believe that speaking truth to ignorance is the right thing to do.
And since I was the only liberal in that lively discussion, and since each of my interlocutors was using the word liberal to mean whatever pejorative thing they could dream up without ever agreeing on a definition, I’ll define it here for all posterity:
A liberal is one who bases his truth claims on reason and evidence rather than on myth and superstition and who is interested in maximizing the well-being of individuals rather than maintaining outdated social traditions.