What being liberal really means

What does it mean to be a "liberal"?

I wonder.

A lot of people claim to be liberal, but when they are asked to define it in their thoughts and beliefs, they stutter.

Most define it in the ideological sense, such as by the progressive party you are affiliated with.

I, however, choose to define it in what I believe in.

For me, being liberal means as follows:

Feels completely OK to have my own religion attacked by other people.

For example, I have read Da Vinci Code without having to compromise my progressive Catholic beliefs.

Now the only reason I am OK to have my own religion attacked is because after all, religions come from Human. The messages might have come from a Higher Power, yes, but they are still written by prophets/saints anyway (who are -surprise- ordinary mortals like you and I). You may have hundreds of prophets in your religion, but it does not mean that the doctrines come down from God.

(Which is why I like to study religions... I study them for their spirituality, not for their doctrines!)

If you are truly liberal, don't get offended if your religion is attacked by others. Because after all, what really matters in embracing your religion is to apply its values of harmony and peace in your daily lives, instead of keeping 24-hour sentry on possible outside offenders.

Willing to attack/hurl offending statements to my own country/nation.

For example, I once wrote an entry about my birthplace as a nation of wimps.

This is of course, for my love and the betterment of the corresponding country itself. Now of course I don't advocate for you Malaysian or Saudi Arabian liberals to write a similar offensive statement towards your own country, because you could get arrested for that! That's the problem for those of you in highly-restrictive societies; you could always claim to be liberal at heart but still unable to show your "liberal side" to the outside world for fear of getting arrested, no matter how democratic your country's regime claims to be.

Feels completely OK to have friends who are of different faiths (or no faiths at all).

Now in Indonesia, wherein almost everybody claims to be a pluralist, everybody also claim that they could befriend people regardless of religion.

Ah, really?

I have put this to test the other day, by asking an Indonesian buddy of mine, "Dude, what do you think of people of different religions? Have you ever felt if there is some kind of a 'wall' between you and them?"

"Eh? Haha.. of course not."

I put forward another question that I know will produce a satisfactory answer, "So, what do you think of atheists?"

"What? Atheists?"

"Yes, atheists. What do you think of them?"

"Well honestly", he paused a while before answering after a deep thought, "they're despicable. I mean, how could anyone afford to have no religion?"

I sighed and grinned, knowing what a distorted mindset that he (and most other devout religious people here in the country) has.

I went on to explain to him that in Singapore and Japan and Europe, there are a lot of people who don't think that God is important. They only visit the churches and/or temples during festive days such as Christmas or Wedding celebrations.

That's the problem with most Indonesians (perhaps, this includes you).

They show how "pluralist" they are by showing that they are OK with people of differing religions.

However, when they are asked about their view on atheism or agnosticism (which is theoretically and practically banned by the Constitution), most choose to shun it.

Seriously, why do they have to shun irreligious people??

I wonder...

Feels completely OK to have a Communist Party in your country

The other day I have also proposed for the revival of PKI (Indonesian Communist Party).

Being a liberal means that you are willing to have all kinds of ideologies in your countries accommodated, whether it is a Conservative, Progressive, Totalitarian, Communist, or even a Sharia-based one. However, most Indonesians would take this as an offence to their widely-held traditionalist views.

Which makes me wonder, if even a mega-capitalist country like US of A has its own Communist Party, why couldn't Indonesians accept one of its own? After all, many imbecile extremists have started to take it to the streets these days with their chants of "Replace the Democracy heritage from USA with this or that political ideology!"

Hmm... Let me not write any further about this, lest my Indonesian readers start wondering if they really have any liberal tinge inside of them.

Perhaps I am the most liberal person residing in the country right now? I don't know, tell me what you think.

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