When I was about six years old, I made the almost fatal mistake of calling my twelve-year-old sister a word that I learned years later meant a child born out of wedlock. It was a slang word I had heard on the playground that day. She played on a different playing field and knew what it meant and gave me corporal punishment for my ignorance! From this incident, I learned to know the meaning of words before using them and not to disparage anyone greater than you. [Rest in peace, Jeanette.]
Something similar often happens now when people call someone or something “liberal,” a word few have ever found in a dictionary. I did and found that ironically the original, true definition of “liberal” is almost synonymous with political conservative – usually one who has used it in a derogatory way!
The Oxford, Cambridge and Princeton Online Dictionaries define classical liberals as: a political ideology favoring laissez-faire, free enterprise economics; rule of law, preference for limited government, deregulation, individualism and minimal state involvement in people’s lives. I think you mints will be surprised to learn the true meaning of “liberal.”
In fact, Lincoln’s description of our form of government in the Gettysburg Address as “of, by, and for the people” sums up well the various definitions I found of “liberal.” This week I read a headline warning that liberalism is under attack worldwide by autocrats. They meant that democracy was being dismantled like in Ukraine. Unfortunately, there is another meaning of the word referring to a preference for deficit spending that has been misapplied to the form of government. I don’t know of a comparable term of bashing that the Liberals could use to babble at the Conservatives across the aisle. With the average age of members of Congress being 60, the majority of legislators take advantage of the laws proposed by the liberals.
On my wall is a life-size picture of Franklin Roosevelt and I should have one of LBJ, because the former gave us Social Security and the latter gave us Medicare and Medicaid – legislation passed by the liberals against strong opposition from the conservatives. Most retired seniors now benefit greatly from these two laws. I also have a bigger picture of Jesus whose message and ministry included health care, feeding the hungry and other similar actions in order to contemporary legislation usually sponsored by “liberals”.