I have been swimming in a sea of talking points instead of conversation, and am at risk of drowning. Recently, I joined an across-the-political-spectrum discussion group on Facebook, and generally have been having a lot of fun exchanging perspectives and ideas. Until last night.
Last night, another group member I do not know well used the definition of fascism to describe the progressive movement in this country. As I am a lover of language, I corrected his definition of both terms, as they are polar opposites, and then was accused of being a typical liberal who feels she owns the definition of words.
As a poet and writer, I use words, but do not own them beyond the split second I string them into an image, thought, or sentence. No one does. So–here are those definitions that got me into trouble last night.
noun \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\
: a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government
: very harsh control or authority.
: a person who favors new or modern ideas especially in politics and education.
These are not my definitions. They come from Merriam-Webster. Regardless, our exchange deteriorated to the point of snark, and any hope of constructive dialog between us was lost, at least for last night.
Our exchange led me to think more of how I define my politics, which are not, and never have been decidedly one way or the other. For example:
- I have voted for a Republican or two in my time.
- I am not anti-gun, but strongly advocate responsible ownership and sales of firearms).
- I am far more concerned about the health of the fourth amendment to the US Constitution right now that I ever will be about the Second. Especially since 9/11.
- As an Army brat, I support a strong military.
- As a person with a conscience, I regret what we have done in other countries to support oppressive regimes.
- I am radically feminist and passionately pro-choice, but my personal faith and belief system would never allow me to choose to terminate a pregnancy (and yes, I have been in that situation to test this out). Does this mean I would impose my choice on another woman? Hell, no.
So, lately I have been feeling like the term liberal really does not fit me well. It is too tight around the waist. Instead, from now on, I will be calling myself a leftward-leaning pragmatist.