One common thread amongst modern liberal thinkers is the one which labels any institution or person with rigid moral beliefs as being close minded and outdated. The label of close mindedness can often be a hypocritical one. Many of the people I have met who hold all the modernly appropriate liberal beliefs, are also some of the most close minded people I have ever met.
Because they refuse to discuss, to explore, to engage in meaningful dialogue. They may be wholly accepting of alternative lifestyles, but are unwilling to even try to understand how someone may not write a blank cheque to all of humanity to do whatever it pleases.
Liberalism tends to stand for one type of freedom: complete freedom to act as one chooses.
Freedom can be the capacity to choose what we aught to, and not just the ability to choose anything. Let us not forget that a drunk is free to take another drink, but that doesn’t mean that’s what’s best for him. In addition, is he really free not to take another drink? In theory yes, but in practice?
Most modern liberal thinkers see religious moral formation as something outdated, and even laughable. Many liberals would accuse those with rigid moral beliefs as deceived, unloving, and unbending. To tell you the truth, sometimes they are right. Our confused brothers and sisters in the south holding signs which read, “God Hates Gays,” are ten examples in one.
But does that mean that all morals which find their foundation in religion are somehow second class and liable to error?
Well it might suffice to say that the truth favours those who are right. The words of Abraham Lincoln sum up perfectly the situation when any two people propose opposing claims: “Both may be, and one must be, wrong.”
Liberalism is usually founded within an understanding of the world devoid of any notion of either God or the soul—though usually there is some clause about ‘believe what you want, but keep it to yourself’. They treat the possibility of God like a person choosing between types of fruit at the grocery store: irrelevant or inconsequential. ‘Some like this, some like that, to each their own’. The question of the existence of God or the soul, however, has enormous implications.
For example: It is easy to answer questions about abortion and euthanasia if people are just lumps of matter that happen to be awake. If human life is something precious and profound, these questions become real actions with dire consequences. Murder is taken seriously and considered a grave error by even the most extreme liberals. If the human soul is a reality, then abortion is murder. Which, as I’m sure you can see, means that the belief that abortion is just, is a false one.
If the creation of human life is happenstance, and as a result no more meaningful than an ultra-rare chemical reaction, it is no different to chop a tree down as it is to end a human life.
The fact that very few people in existence would agree with that statement, shows that most people have some awareness of the preciousness of human life.
Trees do not have rights, and neither should they. Some people may argue that trees should have rights, but no one argues that all human beings should not have rights. In history some have argued that some human races should not have rights, but they are obviously confused and depraved of wisdom. So if even the most stark liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-euthanasia, pro-everything, has some awareness of the rights of man, then where does this awareness come from?
As I mentioned before, if we are nothing more than complicated dirt, then why do we have particular rights unique to humans, but tigers, crickets, and whales do not? Are they not living creatures made of the same essential substances?
So if there is no distinction between our life force and the life force within a cow, from what standpoint can the claim be made that to kill a human is a crime, but to kill a cow is just part of life?
Only if human life is somehow unique or different, is our current understanding of the world meaningful. If human life is unique and different from other living things, how else could this be the case if not for the intervention of some outside force? A force that could neither be human nor earthly. A tree cannot render itself into a baseball bat anymore than a human could produce her own soul. So what force has granted humanity its unique nature?
Furthermore, if we are solely the products of amoebas getting struck by lightning, or some other entirely natural process, we are no different than the animal kingdom or any other life form on earth; which leaves us with an uncomfortable state of affairs: either all living things need equal rights, or everything should have an absence of rights. Equality is good, right?
Which would you prefer?
If the former is true then we’ll all end up in prison for killing and eating other animals. The vegans might get off, but most likely they’ll be guilty of manslaughter at best. If it’s the latter, well who wants to live in that kind of world? That is a world were only the most violent, powerful, and brutal get their way.
The fact remains that the vast majority of human beings both existing today, and that have ever existed, believe that to some degree humanity is unique and deserving of special rights. This notion is embedded so deeply within us, it is rarely even mentioned or discussed. Some, like those who adhere to Jainism, have. However, they offer a religious and moral outlook which suggests that death by starvation is the highest possible religious achievement: all to avoid harming any living thing. To consider all life equal means either suicide or a forever guilty conscience.
It may be argued that mankind has adopted this mentality out of necessity due to the relationship between us and the rest of the universe, a kind of evolutionary byproduct of our existence. This explanation fails to explain the intrinsic and powerful awareness within every human being of their natural value, the visceral and burning fire which prods human beings to fight back against injustice.
Our notion of uniqueness is a rich and indivisible part of the human tapestry.
It is not a construct of the human mind, but a facet of truth from which our very understanding of right and wrong is born. It is what is commonly called the soul. This distinctive mark, written indelibly within the human heart, is the foundation of our self-knowledge. Through this self-knowledge comes a deep and powerful understanding of our nature as humans on earth, as humans within the vast and awe inspiring universe.
More importantly, it is the first clue upon an ever deepening and profound trail which leads to Truth.
Without Truth there is no wisdom, and without wisdom we are doomed to hurl ourselves into the fires of our own design. Such a torment is one I hope to avoid, both for myself and for all those I love. If freedom is what we crave, then it is imperative that we understand fully for what we have been created. The journey of self discovery is a powerful one filled with joy and trials. If freedom is the true desire of our hearts, and not just guiltless self-indulgence, then there is no other path that can be taken but to plunge into the mysteries and complexities of the human heart and soul.