I remember when I heard an well-respected black scholar lecture at seminary and was shocked to hear him say that liberalism was itself part of the problem. Liberalism was racist. Liberal darlings like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was history that did not hold the answers we needed now (1989). What?
Now, many years later, I have come to say the same thing. In discussions that I take part in, both in my job and in blogging, and previously in the denominations in which I served, I hear stuck discussions when I want to solve problems. The liberalism I hear is often backward looking, wanting to lament over the oppression of the past. But having done so, is not to have solved the problems of today.
For instance, if you are working on better policy to govern public school, continual talking about rights for equality, does not in itself solve the problem. Sure, stated like that, it may be a basic principle, but it is not a solution. Equally poor education is not what we want! Nor is pressing the government for more handouts to redress the wrong, the likely direction arising from the discussion, likely to be workable today given the empty state of government coffers.
Then when this sort of liberalism is ALL that the educated people will consider, it drowns out conversations that will generate workable ideas.
Of course the same is true with the old “conservative” saws, too. The slogan “personal responsibility” should not be used to obviate each individual’s civic responsibility. We should have moved on long ago from positions that say we don’t need to work on problems.
Today, however, I am talking to my liberal, educated, and education focussed friends. Let’s be open to new voices from every corner. Let’s be able to take an honest look at problems and solution. To solve the problems of the inner city, one must be in conversation with those in the inner city. To solve the problem of lack of student retention, let’s look at the real students who are dropping out. To solve the problem of poor comportment, let’s take an honest look at what is happening and why. I know it is scary, but only that will solve the problems.
To solve the problems in my family, or my social group, my congregation, just pushing my viewpoint probably won’t solve the problem. We probabably need God’s perspective, which usually ends up meaning everyone gives and therefore everyone gets. Natural thinking is more like “you must give on this point, because I have to get.” God’s viewpoint is usually more like, “thank you, Lord. I believe you, and therefore I sow, sacrifice, and believe for my harvest.” So one gives loves to get it — and that works better.
So also in public policy. Give up your assertions long enough to hear others’.
Yes, I realize that the liberals are saying, “let’s repent from the oppression of the past.” I agree with that. But to feel bad is not to have repented. Let’s actually go a different way!