I have increasingly notice how useless and downright harmful the terms conservative and liberal are. In the political arena, religious matters, or wherever.
I, for one, plan to ban their use from my vocabulary. What does it mean to be conservative? To be a liberal? The best I’ve ever heard of is that it is a title under which we lump our favorite agendas and favorite demons. If I were to ask 20 people the definition of those terms and what one would classify under each title, each person would likely put their own favorite issue(s) under whichever one they wish to alienate or affirm. These labels often turn into firebrands upon which we like to point fingers and make tongue-wagging generalities. When someone starts saying ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ anything, I find that it’s usually an attempt to be divisive, polarizing, and as vague as possible. Even more harmful is to use these terms to classify people.
When I hear a person using these terms, I have yet to see it convince the person they are talking too if they are of a differing opinion. I think it’s because we all can see the broad generalities they are appealing to and not actually saying anything about the real truth of the matter. If someone is wrong about a viewpoint then the argument should be directed to correct the particular viewpoint or argue that one topic. Making a blanket statements they are liberal or conservative seeks to lump a person with tags they cannot really fall under.
Is a whole person’s viewpoint really conservative or liberal? At best we could use the term with the one stance or topic. We are all far too complex of people to be satisfied with such foolishly simple terms and harmful judgments based on one position. Far more often I find that the real reason people are so polarized or set on a particular topic is because they have personally been hurt or carry a lot of emotional, spiritual, or mental baggage with the topic that was never healed. Often this pain or anger is carried subconsciously.
One of the best deacons I’ve ever met lives by the creed that it is only through loving relationship that any conversion happens. I have come to believe more and more this is true. Love implies relationship. Unless we are willing to be in a genuine relationship with the other person, to really listen to their concerns and work with the questions *together*, we are not loving anyone. Without love, there is no change. God brought salvation to this world through the very real and human person of Jesus. He didn’t do it from ‘on high’ but from real, human relationship and that is an example we should take to heart.
One does not deny there is wrong or evil in our understandings, but one needs to affirm that there is good in the person first. It is the the power of real, loving relationship that correction and change can happen. One is far more likely to listen to someone that they know cares for them and listens to them than yelling at them with labels.