(Published in my column at VIEWLINER PUBLICATION November 3-9 2014 Issue)
The liberal person is stereotyped as a militant, not often esteemed and often misunderstood. In the present Filipino culture, we have lost track between political liberalism and moral liberalism, to be “liberated” now is to be an immoral person.
As I see it, the term “liberalism” is almost certainly one of the most misapprehended words in the society of Juan dela Cruz.
Perhaps the supreme fallacy of the term is that one cannot be a liberal and a God believing individual at once.
As a Christian-liberal, let me state my political view and assertion on the subject matter. It is a delusion that only politicians should have a political view, every citizen must get involved in the affairs of his State.
My liberal perspective is probably a “hybrid” of my first being a believer and a practitioner of the Christian Faith and second as an advocate of democracy and liberalism as a political system.
I do not expect all fellow liberals to agree on my perspective; many liberally-educated individuals and political scientists (and maybe the religious) may differ or oppose my personal view.
It’s O.K, I have learned to accept the fact that it is uncommon to meet two liberals who would agree on a common definition of the term unless in all probability if they are a part of a same Philippine political party which has a liberal brand.
It is only normal that the liberals from different walks of life will argue among themselves regarding the definition of the term “liberal” and the principles and ideals that are anchored on it. As liberals tend to price their personal opinions, you should anticipate a flood of ideas, opinions, positions and even formulas in putting up the “ideal society.”
In my opinion, to be liberal does not mean to be a part of a political group. Liberalism is a belief. It is similar to Christianity, Islam, or any other religion however, the focus in liberalism is not the belief in a Supreme Being but in the belief on the attainment of the ideal society.
As a philosophy, the focus of liberalism is on the freedom of the individual. Liberals believe that in order to attain the ideal society, the individuals must be free to do the things that they want as long as it does not affect the rights of other individuals. Liberals give higher importance to the lives of the individuals rather than the life of the State; they believe that the State must be the protector of the people and not its oppressor.
Unlike the traditionalists who stick to lenience and understanding, the liberal always demand change when change is being called for, they are open to new ideas and values. He always calls for genuine reforms, but is not easy to call for arms unlike the extermists. In fact, he shuns violence as a solution.
The liberal always respect the rule of law and works within the system and not against it. He boldly presents the cancers of the society, asks the hard queries, and offer solutions.
The liberalism political thought asserts that every individual is rational and is responsible and are at the best position to choose his or her interests. Liberals believe that to go after personal interests freely and rationally would lead to the finest of all social systems.
It is in contrast to the view of the fascists and the conservatives that individuals in the social order are linked collectively in an organic whole and affix on social order. Liberals also disagree with the socialist argument that individual interest should bow down to the interest of the society as a whole.
Liberals are firm to their ideal that no principle can ever authorize the restriction of freedom in the political and economic spheres. Liberals give emphasis to equal opportunities to all, they dream of a society where the hard-working and the talented are rewarded the amount of their work. They shun the idea of equality of ends wherein people will simply receive equal shares of the economic benefits.
In my opinion, it is not wrong for liberals to profess a faith and advocate the Christian values of humility, honesty, justice, love and prayerfulness. Religious freedom is one fruit of many libertarian efforts. Liberals believe that each man must be free on his worship to a supreme being, if he chooses to worship at all.
To end, let me state the six core liberal principles that I have learned being a seeker of political knowledge. These six principles sum up everything about liberalism.
First is Individualism, or the belief that the individual is more important than the group or society where he/she belongs.
Second is Rationalism or the belief that the world is rational and it can be disclosed in the eyes of the human person through the exercise of critical inquiry.
Third is Freedom or the ability to act as one desire in agreement to self-determination.
Fourth is Responsibility or being responsible for one’s social and economic circumstance.
Fifth is Justice or the giving of every person what is due them.
And the sixth is Tolerance or the willingness to accept the views or actions that one disagrees or of which one disapproves.
This is my perspective of the liberalism political credo. As I mentioned earlier I do not expect everyone to agree and that will be fine for I respect the differing views regarding the topic and I uphold the sixth core value abovementioned.
There are many professed supporters of liberalism are at times unconfident as to what precisely their political philosophy is all about. I genuinely hope that my perspective helped those people.
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.