I remember the righteous smugness I used to feel when the one conservative friend in my social circle would begin expressing his opinions at a dinner gathering. I and the other ‘enlightened’ diners would shift uncomfortably and glance at one another, rolling our eyes: “Here he goes again.” My stomach would tighten with a worry not fit for the occasion. I began to feel personally offended. And the smugness sometimes boiled over into anger, as I’d listen to my friend, loyal and kind, simply share his “crazy” ideas and opinions with us.
What I thought then was only my frustration with his views, I know now was also my own discomfort with my belief it was okay to dismiss and condemn him for expressing himself. We ganged up on him. And while he didn’t like it (who would?), he took it well, and eventually the conversation would drift into safer territory like work and sports, and all would be forgotten.
Oftentimes after these dinners I was left thinking (no pun intended), that this guy was one of the smartest, nicest people I knew, and all he was trying to do was offer another angle on things. He was sharing a voice that wasn’t that of an echoing lemming skirting over issues in search of a choir, but rather an informed, passionate, and to us, provocative perspective we were all uneasy with. And again, I could feel in my gut that I hadn’t been fair or nice. But wait, aren’t us liberals supposed to be “nice” and sensitive… and open? I mean, if the basic meaning of the word liberal is to “advocate the freedom of the individual,” why then is there such hell to pay for those who don’t agree with the Left’s political or social views?
Read the rest here...