An odd fit between traditional labels

I was filling out an on-line survey a month or two ago, and one of the questions concerned where I would place myself on a political scale. The range spanned ?very conservative? to ?very liberal.? I recognized it to be a good question. I wasn?t sure exactly how to answer.

I realize many readers of the Free Press probably consider my views to be on the liberal side. I seldom agree with what so-called conservative Republicans are doing when it comes to the government.

It is no secret I am not a fan of our current president, nor do I care for most of his cronies. I am solidly against the war in Iraq. I thought it was a bad idea before the decision was made to send in U.S. troops. I still believe it is a bad idea to be there.

Naturally, my upbringing in the Mennonite Church as a pacifist has influenced my opposition to the military action. But, my concerns go much deeper. I believe that every human on the planet, regardless of race, religion or location, has the right to pursue a peaceful coexistence with other human beings.

Yes, Saddam Hussein was a horrible monster; he tortured and killed many of his own people. That is inexcusable. The deaths of nearly three quarters of a million additional Iraqis, more than 50,000 of whom have been children, and nearly 4,000 Americans, however, is unconscionable.

I am also convinced there were, and still are, other options that are far more palatable than going into a country that never attacked ours, occupying it for several years and destroying most of its infrastructure. And, then our leaders have the arrogance to label it a rescue mission.

If we want to rescue someone, let?s consider forming a multinational group to help out the people of Africa, particularly Darfur.

Our country has been a presence in Iraq longer than we were involved in World War II. I believe our being there flies in the face of every Christian principle.

That stance alone could likely earn me the label of liberal. If so, I am in good company. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Jesus Christ were several of the most liberal people ever to walk the earth in terms of their ideas and the way they lived their lives. A stellar crew to be sure, and a team I don?t mind being associated with.

On the other hand, in some ways, I am much more traditional, and therefore, I assume, conservative. I believe the preservation of the family is vital to the survival of society.

I don?t, however, believe that allowing gay couples certain legal rights would necessarily increase the rate of the downward spiral we seem to be in.

Moreover, I recently read that half of the children being born in the United States are to unwed parents. I believe abortions are wrong, but I don?t think simply banning them will make them go away. We have to get to the root of the problem, which is far more complicated than just telling couples to stop producing babies.

In addition, as a Christian, I am compelled to love people who have made bad choices, not condemn them.

I am against capital punishment. Though the Old Testament seems to allow for the killing of a murderer by another human, my belief is that Jesus Christ came to show a better way. Several stories in the Bible point out that grace is available to everyone, regardless of his or her past.

Furthermore, as Jesus was dying on the cross, he told a criminal who was hanging next to him that because the man confessed, he would join Christ in Heaven. That is one of the most powerful reasons I cannot condone capital punishment. Putting a human being to death takes away a potential opportunity to save his or her soul.

Into what box do I fit if I believe in fair wages, lower taxes and less government interference in the economy?

I am convinced that simply lowering taxes on businesses will not necessarily make life easier for the struggling middle and lower classes, the people who need relief the most.

I like Sen. Sam Brownback?s idea of a flat tax. I liked it when Ross Perot proposed it a couple of elections ago. Under this type of plan, most everyone would pay a flat percentage of income. Many of the deductions would be closed off. But, the rates would be substantially lower. And the largest wage earners would finally have to shoulder their share of the burden.

Kansas has the right idea when it comes to government spending. The state cannot spend more money than it has. That?s why there is once again a surplus of funds this year after a couple of down years. At times, money is tight, but our state legislators? being held to spending limits is a good thing.

I believe we have to find a way to provide affordable health insurance for everyone, including the elderly, children and, yes, even illegal aliens. Not providing health care to residents of our state will eventually cost us big bucks, even bigger than funding a comprehensive health care plan.

I believe global warming is a real and present danger. I have seen ?An Inconvenient Truth.? I think you owe it to yourselves to watch that film, then you can intelligently argue about the urgency of the situation. Until then, you only know what you are being told by ?the other half.?

So, how do I mark a survey that questions whether I am conservative or liberal? Why should I even have to make a choice? I have to wonder how many others there are out there who, like me, consider themselves a little bit of both and mostly neither.

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