Thursday, July 21, 2005

Rites of Passage

There's a great read at Donklephant, written by Callimachus. (Say that sentence five times fast.) My Left Behind is a three part essay about a self-described liberal's political and philosophical journey. I am providing an excerpt, but the entire essay is well worth your time.
I grew up thinking that, and I identified myself as a liberal. What may surprise some of you is, I still do.

A liberal believes change can be good, especially when guided by a spirit of free inquiry and a firm sense of what is right and when it aims to increase human freedom and let people run their own lives. A liberal believes people are basically good, and they can, and want to, make their lives better. It’s a faith enshrined in Bobby Kennedy’s quote (nicked from G.B. Shaw) about “seeing things that never were” and saying, “why not?”

A liberal believes the values enshrined in the Bill of Rights are true human values, not merely cultural artifacts. The West has no gift from the gods, and our citizens are not better than those of other lands, but we’ve set up these principles as our collective guide and have committed ourselves to live by them, when right, and be corrected by them, when wrong.

Many commentaries have been written by the “Left Behinds” since Sept. 11, explaining how we haven’t changed, but our old party and peers seem to have abandoned the ideals we thought we held in common, for the sake of another set that we never realized were their true passion.

Such writing almost forms an online genre, and it has been mocked, sometimes deservedly. Messy break-ups acted out in public, plates flying, shouts of “I feel like I don’t know you anymore!” Possibly all this is no deep matter. The evolution of a mildly radical young man to a mildly conservative middle-aged one is among the oldest stories. Yet I feel neither “conservative” nor evolved. I still believe I’m upholding the values of my liberal youth, albeit in a different form.