The ambivalence of liberalism

So you get this sort of ambivalent response – we’ll embrace the idea, but we will not embrace the reality.
– john a. powell, A Civil Conversation with Krista Tippet, On Being, March 10, 2015

This statement by john a. powell has been haunting me since I read it a week or so ago. My pal, Jna, directed me to this segment of On Being a bit before that; she may have thought I didn’t have enough to chew on in my contemplation of community. More likely she wanted to keep shaking me a bit. The statement seems to crystalize in just a handful or words something I keep coming back to again and again: liberals are ambivalent about our values. We embrace our values. We do not embrace their enactment.

IMG_0485We support the protest and the protester. We do not necessary support the disruption these make in our lives. We support those who are marginalized, might even live for a time on the margins with them. We maintain a grasp, even a tentative one, on the knob to the escape hatch.

An old analogy comes to mind. In a bacon and egg breakfast, the chicken has invested. The pig, however, is all in. In short, we may be chicken — or at least sufficiently ambivalent — to embrace the reality of social oppresion.

I remain haunted.

One thought on “The ambivalence of liberalism

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s