Ignore the giggles and wear your awakening like a badge of honor


The Liberals ended slavery in this country – a liberal Republican did it. The Liberals gave women the right to vote. The Liberals won the vote for African Americans. The Liberals created social security and lifted millions of seniors out of poverty. The Liberals ended segregation. The Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. The Liberals created medicare. The Liberals passed the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

So when you try to toss that word “liberal” at my feet like it’s something dirty, something to shy away from, something to be ashamed of, it won’t work. Because I’ll take that tag, and wear it as a badge of honor.

You know that sometimes you hear things and you immediately think “I wish I had said that”. I am not the one who wrote the previous two paragraphs. I was quoting Matt Santos, the guy who fought for Democrats to succeed Jed Bartlett in the White House.

If you can find the scene, on YouTube or elsewhere, he hesitated at first. But when he decided to go, nothing stopped him.

It was fiction, of course – the last series of West wing. But the kind of fiction that from time to time can inspire.

There is another label that is being launched these days. It’s actually a word that has a story, but when you hear it or read it now, it’s always said or written with a sneer.

There’s a whole industry, in print, commentary and social media, that wants to make it a label to shy away from. This label is “awake”.

I want to pick it up with pride. So, I am awake. Politically correct. The. I intend to wear my awakening as a badge of honor.

In fact, I may not be awake enough. I make mistakes from time to time. Saying inappropriate things that I find funny.

I’ve written about how I once spoke slowly, in one-syllable words, to a brand new African colleague; and was mortified when he responded – quite graciously – in a manner that was not only articulate but erudite.

I don’t think I was racist – maybe subconsciously I was – but I was certainly condescending. And I was motivated by color. These are, I hope, lessons learned.

All my life I hated the idea of ​​wearing badges. I don’t think I ever put anything on the lapel of my jacket, unless it was for some really important reason – unless there was an urgent need to make a visible statement – and then only for the shortest time possible. get away.

If you are canvassing for something, it is important to make the thing you are campaigning for as visible as possible; wear the colors of your cause.

But it always made me uncomfortable. I am what I am, I believe what I believe, that’s how I’ve always thought of the world.

I don’t need to wear my heart on my sleeve, I think, because anyone who knows me knows where I stand.

Plus, waking up is a little bland. At least alongside other much more important political values.

Values ​​like equality, solidarity, community, democracy, freedom – these are the values ​​that have changed the world.

No one is ever going to sacrifice themselves and die, or trudge through the mud and pain of war to make the world more awake.

But here’s the thing. The attack on woke-ism is, basically, an attack on all of these other values.

These values, which are at the heart of old-fashioned (real) republicanism, or socialism, or social democracy, have been under pressure all over the world and have been for 20 years or more.

It has gotten to the point where left-wing parties across Europe are afraid to call themselves left and frantically seek out ideas and narratives that can win the public imagination back.

The only area in recent years where left leadership has had a significant impact are, oddly enough, non-economic areas.

There was a time when human rights were expressed in legislation on equality and access to better health care, among others.

Today there is a clear division between economic and social rights, on the one hand, and civil and political rights, on the other.

It is therefore now possible – a trend and even desirable – for parties to be “socially progressive” (in favor of equal marriage, for example) and “economically conservative” (worried about the consequences of a right to housing, for example).

All rights are not equal, it turns out.

There is no credit for the left in progressive social change, as much as the left might believe in social change.

It was the Labor Party in Ireland that spearheaded the removal of the divorce ban; the successive and progressive changes in the legislation on family planning; everyone’s ability to love and marry regardless of their sexual orientation, and the removal of the 8th Amendment.

Who knew? Who can remember the Labor ministers and leaders who did the heavy lifting, the heavy lifting, leading to these and other changes?

I’m not saying any of this in a sullen way. It’s just a fact.

This reflects, among other things, the reality that battles between left and right were once about class and economic issues – workers’ rights, access to income supports, that sort of thing.

Women’s rights were part of this battle, because every concession to women was opposed for economic reasons.

Many of those battles have been replaced in recent times by questions of identity, and many of the fiercest battles are now being fought over matters that are not about the economy.

But they are still important battles.

When Irish footballers kneel in a Hungarian football stadium, they are making an important declaration of solidarity with those oppressed on the basis of color.

When Hungarian fans boo this statement, they are taking their own stand.

And then when Irish opinion writers attack the team and their manager for being woken up, like it happened over the weekend, they do this age-old thing. Try to make the label look like something dirty. Something to run away from.

And they do it themselves out of fear – fear of gradual change that undermines their power and authority.

Over a long professional life, working alongside others in a variety of causes and battles, I may not have learned much. But what I learned is that there is one human quality above all others that binds people together: respect.

Respect for the people you work with. Respect for yourself. Respect, above all, for the people you are trying to serve.

The best leaders, the only ones worth following, are those who respect the people they are charged with leading.

For me, ‘awake’ means respect. In its essence, it means respect for people who have never been respected enough. These are usually people we place on the fringes of our comfortable world.

So I have a badge made. I’ll keep it in my pocket, until I need to put it. It will probably be a little lumpy, because it will say “Respect and equality.” AWAKEN and Proud. Beware of us.

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