Today I was reminded why I am a Liberal
Today is my 10 year vegetarian anniversary, but that's not why I was reminded of my liberalism. Its cold here in Seattle. Colder than freezing with a layer of snow on the streets from yesterday. Why does that make me remember why I'm a liberal?
I moved to downtown Seattle during the spring of this year. Prior to that I have been living in the suburbs for the last ten years or so, in California for grad school and then in Washington. Suburban life often isolates one from the massive homeless problem in this country. Everyday I walk (about 1.5 miles)/bus to work and pass several homeless people. After a while, the people sleeping on the sidewalk can meld into the scenery, just like the view of the Space Needle I see riding in my apartment's elevator: you know its there, but after so many visuals you aren't very much moved by it anymore.
Today, luckily, I didn't see many homeless people, certainly none sleeping on the sidewalks which are covered in sheets of ice. (The city of Seattle, thankfully, opened several additional shelters for this cold front.) It stopped snowing last night but the temperatures kept dropping and at 6 a.m., on my way to work, it was bitterly cold for this west coaster. I don't wear beanies because they make me look fat--vanity, I know, but that's how it goes sometimes--so by the time I got to my bus stop my ears were really cold. As I was complaining to myself about my poor wittle ears, I saw a homeless man slumbering on the other side of the street. And that reminded me why I was a liberal.
No human being should have to suffer the indignity of homeless if they are willing to work. And no one, however lazy a conservative wants to call them, should have to endure this cold weather without shelter. Though I don't share a theist worldview anymore, I've always held dear what the religious father of this country's major religious tradition called the greatest commandment: Love they neighbor as yourself. That, to me, sums up my liberalism. Love my fellow "man" as if they were me. Everything else is pretty much just filler.
Collectively, government can do more than an individual. I've talked often about the basis for society formation and called for a rigorous discussion of the philosophical basis and legitimacy of governments. But today, I see how much simpler it *can* be. While we can and should debate the proper responses to problems, our basic sense of common decency clearly tells us that we must help each other out. What if we were stuck in the freezing weather? Does it really matter how we got there?