Congratulations on Us
Liberal Human Rights Perspectives

Congratulations on us — the liberals.  There was a time, not too long ago, when our opposites, the conservatives, said that the institution of marriage was at risk and that matrimony was in its death throes because of liberal living.  As it turns out, these conservatives were embarrassingly mistaken.  Thanks to liberals, marriage is at a high point in popularity.  Now, with same-sex marriage all the rage, liberals should be proud.  The end of matrimony has been avoided and the doors of wedding chapels are swinging open to every US civilian couple — equal marriage opportunity for… almost all.

And speaking of equal opportunity.  There was a time in our culture war history, when these same conservatives were attacking our rights to equal intoxication. While alcohol was a well-respected inebriant, cannabis, conservatives said, was the devil’s weed.  Cannabis was conservative “Just Say No”-America’s number one mental and physical health concern.  Again, these conservatives were embarrassingly wrong.  Thanks to liberals, cannabis is now therapeutic — medicinal — certified good for our bodies and souls right here in the great state of California. It’s as if we liberals have magical powers.  We waved our wand over marriage and weed and hallelujah.  As the good book says, if a man lies with another man, he should be stoned. 

And stoned we are.  So stoned that we liberals, in our silly distracted way, overlooked the most important human rights of all. Physiological necessities like food, not to mention clothing and shelter — the rights of needs — were sent to the back of the bus.  Life rights.  To deny the rights of food, clothing and shelter is immoral.  To overlook them is shameful.

Liberal shame is a curious thing. As a liberal, you probably already know that the roots of the word “shame” come from the Proto-Indo-European word “skem” meaning "to cover." Covering yourself, literally or figuratively, is what nearly everyone does when they’re ashamed.  For liberal cures for shame there are people like Professor Brené Brown, an expert on shame (according to her bio) who is now exploring a concept that she calls “Wholeheartedness.” Brown’s path to a whole heart starts with asking this question:

“How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness?”

OK.  Brown’s liberal followers are people who are seeking authenticity. Fair enough. They want to come to grips with who they are.  They want to focus on their personal vulnerabilities and imperfections.  OK.  That’s personal shame.  That’s all about them.  That’s a good cover.  But what about our collective shame?  Our culture has one huge vulnerability:  People without basic needs.  While we seek to engage in our personal lives from a place of worthiness, 600,000 people in America are homeless. While I’m smoking a joint at a gay wedding, nearly 140,000 children are without a place they call home.

But there is hope.  We liberals fixed marriage and weed. That didn’t seem possible a few decades ago. Now, it’s time to apply our magical liberal powers to homelessness.  If we can fix to that, then, we’ll really deserve congratulations.

— Nathan Callahan

First Broadcast May 8, 2014

© / Nathan Callahan / all rights reserved


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