Time to redefine the oft-maligned 'liberal'

The "L" word has gotten a lot of bashing in the past four years. But I, for one, think it needs to be reexamined, to be exposed for what it really is.

The dictionary defines the word as "characterized by generosity," and/or "inclining toward policies that define progress or reform."

These definitions seem to have been distorted in popular culture to mean people who are generous with other people's money (as in raising taxes) and are always complaining and blaming someone else for their problems.

As a card-carrying liberal since college (much to my father's dismay), I am puzzled by these misrepresentations.

While I think that some taxes are necessary for a civilized society, I am appalled by governments that feel they must spend more than they take in.

While I think the government and the society it represents have a responsibility to help those least able to help themselves, giving tax breaks to large corporations and the wealthy while accumulating an unbelievable debt is the height of irresponsibility.

While I don't want to pay any more taxes than the next guy, I also believe the government can do a whole lot more with what it has by reprioritizing and being more efficient.

While I believe that government policies can be instrumental in improving people's lives across the economic spectrum, I also believe that giving people money outright with no work in exchange is just as bad for the recipient as it is for the taxpayer who provided it.

While I believe that government can provide oversight to keep us safe from tainted drugs and food and dangerous toys for our children, I deplore any attempt to intrude into my home or bedroom, or to influence or dictate my spiritual beliefs.

While I am dismayed by the easy access people in this country have to handguns and by the ability to hide guns legally on one's person, I am a hunter and own a beautiful 20-gauge shotgun.

While I believe that war is an outdated means of solving disputes and that we have the expertise to resolve conflicts peacefully, I also agree that countries have a right to defend themselves as a last resort.

While I see no reason to maintain a nuclear arsenal 10 times as large as any other country's and conduct research on offensive biological and chemical weapons, I support the military and have a son in the Navy.

While I firmly believe that human beings are endowed with the ability to make the world better for themselves, I choose to be actively involved rather than think of myself as a victim.

While I see many ways we can work to improve all our lives, I am optimistic about the future and our ability to come together as a nation for the benefit of all.

How can someone who deplores deficit spending and government intrusion into personal affairs, opposes giveaway welfare, believes in fiscal responsibility and self-defense, supports the military and hunting, and views the future optimistically be a liberal?

Maybe liberals and conservatives aren't so different after all.

Beverly Crane is a holistic psychologist.

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