As human beings we stand alone in our use of words. We debate and we argue. We teach, we preach, and we proclaim. We use words to build nations, define religions, inspire revolutions, and to defend what is true or even hide what is false. Beasts may use tooth and claw to control, conquer and kill; but men use words, for all of this, and great ends; still.
So it is with a great respect for this power of words that I would like to suggest something that may surprise a few of you: As an unapologetic conservative, I am truly a classical liberal. Let me explain why.
I am a liberal because I believe in liberty. I understand that liberty is the antithesis of slavery; and slavery, at its core, is the product of lies—lies about who we are as people; lies about what is right and wrong; lies about man and lies about God.
I am a liberal because I believe in freedom: Freedom of thought and freedom of expression and the freedom to dissent from the consensus. I am energized by the unapologetic pursuit of truth. Wherever it leads, I am confident in the words, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
I am a liberal because I believe in integration. The liberally-educated person recognizes that we cannot segregate personal life from private life, the head from the heart, fact from faith, belief from behavior, science from the sacred, liberty from law, or government from God.
I am a liberal because I believe in conservation. There are ideas that are tested by time, defended by reason, validated by experience, and confirmed by revelation. Yes, mankind is charged to steward the goodness of his environment but surely ideas—at least those ideas that are good—should, with equal passion, be conserved.
I am a liberal because I believe in Truth and I recognize that when we exchange it for a lie, we build a house of cards that will fall to mankind’s inevitable temper tantrum of seeking control and power. We need look no further than to Mao, Mussolini, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Robespierre, Castro, ISIS, or Boko Haram for proof.
I am a liberal because I teach my students to not be deceived by the constructs of the uberminsch: the supermen; the power brokers, the elites, the “fittest,” who stand at our culture’s pulpits and podiums. I want my graduates to recognize the duplicity of the duplicitous and the dualism of the dualistic. I challenge them to see the intolerance of those who claim they can’t tolerate intolerance. I coach them not to be intimidated by the hate of those who say they hate the hateful or by those who are proud to say they have no pride.
I am a liberal because I know that a good education—a complete education—a truly liberal education must be grounded in a respect for and the conservation of what is immutable and right and just and real. It should seek to reclaim what has been co-opted and to reveal what has been compromised. It should be free of intimidation and should honor open inquiry. It should protect and defend the definition of words and not dumb them down to the shallowness of personal agendas and popular opinions. I am a liberal because I have confidence in the measuring rod of Truth, that unalienable standard that is bigger and better than the crow of the cocky or the consensus of the crowd.
I am a liberal because I believe that without such conservative ideas it is presumptous at best, and haughty in the extreme, that anyone else should truly call him or herself a liberal.
Talking Points With President Piper is a weekly column featured in the Examiner-Enterprise newspaper. In addition to serving as the Oklahoma Wesleyan President, Dr. Everett Piper is also a frequent guest commentator on a variety of talk radio programs across the nation, as well as a published author and essayist.