Letter: Liberally speaking

Robert Sanchez, Naples

Liberally speaking

As a long-standing member of the American Civil Liberties Union I regard myself as a patriotic citizen as well as a believer in protecting the rights of the individual.

I also call myself a liberal.

Unfortunately, the word "liberal" has become anathema to some who regard it as the mortal enemy of the term "conservative."

My definition of "liberal" includes the opposition to authoritarianism and orthodoxy. It embraces the precepts of open-mindedness that calls for tolerance and acceptance of change. While traditions and established norms of behavior are valuable touchstones in informing our personal and societal interactions, I remain leery of their domination of our lives.

In much the same way that our scientific understanding of the universe has undergone radical change over time, so, too, has our need to open our minds and hearts to different beliefs, practices and expectations in our families, our neighborhoods, our nation and our world.

The appellations "chauvinist," "nativist," "colonialist," "absolutist," "racist" and "sexist" have become pejoratives. They indeed are the true enemies of the liberal mentality.

A true conservative may wish to preserve the established order, be slow to embrace innovation and change and may long to return to older times. Not my cup of tea, perhaps, but I can still understand such genuinely held views.

The root of "conservatism" is "conserve," a word that should imply care and respect for the preservation of our planet, our air, our oceans and our natural resources. And a "fiscal conservative" such as I am asks that we expend our nation's financial assets in a responsible manner.

My wish is that we might incorporate the best aspects of each philosophy to advance the lot of all Americans.

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