Friday, October 26, 2007

The Cautious Radical

Previously published at Faithfully Liberal: The Cautious Radical
By Pastor Bob Cornwall

I was talking to a friend of mine who had concluded that I am by nature cautious. I think that’s a fair statement. I’m pretty analytical and I weigh my options carefully.

My son, who is taking the AP US Government class brought home one of those self-analysis pieces. This one focused on political identity. He asked me a couple of questions and then plotted the answers. To no one’s surprise I came out as moderately liberal. Alas, not only am I “faithfully liberal” – why else would I write for this blog – but I’m also “moderately liberal.” And you know the curse of the moderate – they get run over in the middle of the road!

Cautious people tend to be pragmatic. They often try to split the difference; take what they can get; knowing that it’s better to get something than nothing. That’s the tactic being taken on the ENDA legislation – better to get something for gays and lesbians now, and then go back later and take care of transgender people later. The compromisers are getting hammered. I think Barack Obama is a cautious liberal. He is strongly supportive of gay rights, but he’s not willing to dump a black gospel singer who happens to take anti-gay views. Barack is getting hammered.

My son discovered that he is a radical liberal – but he’s only 17 and time will tell. Many radicals have become more moderate and even conservative as they age. Now, I’ve gone the other direction. I’ve become more liberal as I’ve aged, but I’ve done this gradually, which is maybe because I’m a cautious sort of guy.
Radicalness is for youth – I’m in middle age. But I do believe that change is necessary in this nation and in this world. Sometimes that requires that we do something radical – and radical of course means “going to the root.” We need, it would seem, to get to the root of the things that keep us from being the people we’re meant to be!


Mystical Seeker said...

To me, liberals and radicals are completely different breeds. A liberal is someone who wants to reform the system; a radical is someone who thinks that the very roots of the current system (hence the word "radical", which comes from "root") need to be replaced.

I don't think it has anything to do with youth or age. I think the word "radical" has a bum rap; people often associate it with "extremism" or violence or whatever. I think it just means that you want to make fundamental changes that underlie the core of society. You can certainly be a peaceful radical. To me, by that definition, Jesus was a radical.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

I will agree with you -- which is why I find myself to be a "cautious" radical. I think there are fundamental changes that must be made -- but I'm more a gradualist, and peaceful change often comes gradually.

Thanks for the good comments!