I was raised by a very loving, very open-minded, and very liberal mother. Although many of her beliefs did not replicate themselves in me, one vital life principle did: my mom taught me to always stand up for my beliefs.
No matter how many people were against me and no matter how unpopular it made me, she was adamant that I should be true to whatever I knew in my heart was right. And even though we grew to disagree about so many important things, our mutual commitment to this key maxim never wavered.
When friends were passing around a cigarette in a tent when I was eleven, it meant that I said, “No,” and even left the tent because they said I had to smoke if I stayed. When my pastor said things in confirmation class that I thought were wrong, it meant I questioned him about it. When I wrote papers in college disagreeing with my professors, it meant I wrote them twice as well just because I wanted to make sure my ideas were considered. And when I do my radio show every day, it means I say what I believe, though it challenges every single listener I have and runs the risk of them switching channels stations over it.
Stand up for what you believe, no matter what.
It’s the principle Martin Luther King died for following. It’s the principle Gandhi changed India by following. It’s the principle that got Christ crucified. And it’s the one great rally cry of liberal thinkers everywhere.
Which is why I find it so baffling that those who proclaim it the loudest turn right around and forget it when they attack the actions of our President, George W. Bush. Instead of encouraging him in his often unpopular choices as courageous and visionary, they criticize him for risking unpopularity with his peers by doing what he thinks is right, which they then deride as “acting unilaterally.”
But what if the others are all wrong? And what if he is right?
For years now, I have been hearing from liberal thinkers how crucial it is that we Americans listen carefully to the legal, political, moral, and religious ideas of people around the world. We should adjust our laws to reflect their notions. We should adjust our foreign policy to cater to their tastes. We must alter our notions of appropriate and inappropriate living to coincide with theirs. And we must never allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that we might know something about God that they have forgotten or rejected.
But what if they’re all wrong? And what if we’re right?
But more to the point, what about the idea that even if the whole world is against you, you should stand for what you believe, no matter what?