I am indebted to an interview on NPR that I heard yesterday while on my way to a meeting for prompting today's reflection. Bernard-Henri Levy, author of the book Left in Dark Times: a Stand Against the New Barbarism, was the guest. During the interview he talked about the origins of the use of the term "liberal," referring to those who advocated for or took up the cause of victims. I had a minor epiphany then (one of those "duh!" moments), suddenly making the connection between the word "liberal" and "liberate," to set free.
It makes perfect sense that "liberals" would be associated with the notion of liberation and setting free. My musings sent me to the dictionary (something I should have done long ago related to this topic), and I was interested to learn that the root of the word also connotes "belonging to the people." Further exploration yields "the securing of equal social and economic rights," and "persons favoring progress and reform in politics, education, and institutions." I'm hearing a resonance with the goals and desires of the founders of this country, and words from our Declaration of Independence ring in my ears.
It's true that the extreme of such a view, what we call radical, can be over the top, and annoying and even disturbing even to those of us wear this "label" with pride. But as with most things, I am somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, following a heart of compassion and mercy, shaped by an ideology that advocates the common good, and desiring opportunity and choice for all.
I can think of worse things with which to be associated--far worse.