A liberal, in the American sense, is one who falls to the left in the political spectrum; In other parts of the world, however, liberalism is the belief in laissez-faire capitalism and free-market systems - hence the recently coined term, neoliberalism.
Although I do not like to generalize, for the purposes of a (somewhat) concise dictionary definition, here is the very basic liberal (American sense) ideology:
The federal government exists to protect and serve the people, and therefore, should be given sufficient power to fulfill its role successfully. Ways in which this can be accomplished include giving the federal government more power than local governments and having the government provide programs designed to protect the interests of the people (these include welfare, Medicare, and social security). Overall, these programs have helped extensively in aiding the poor and unfortunate, as well as the elderly and middle class.
To make sure that the interests of the people are served, it was liberals (or so they were considered in their time) that devised the idea of a direct democracy, a republic, and modern democracy. This way, it is ensured that the federal government represents the interests of the people, and the extensive power that it is given is not used to further unpopular goals. Liberals do not concentrate on military power (though that is not to say they ignore it), but rather focus on funding towards education, improving wages, protecting the environment, etc. Many propose the dismantling of heavy-cost programs such as the Star Wars program (no, not the film series), in order to use the money to fund more practical needs.
As one travels further left on the political spectrum, it is noticed that tolerance, acceptance, and general compassion for all people steadily increases (in theory at least). Liberals are typically concerned with the rights of the oppressed and unfortunate – this, of course, does not mean that they ignore the rights of others (liberals represent the best interests of the middle-class in America). This has led many liberals to lobby for the rights of homosexuals, women, minorities, single-mothers, etc. Many fundamentalists see this is immoral; however, it is, in reality, the most mature, and progressive way in which to deal with social differences. Liberals are identified with fighting for equal rights, such as those who wanted to abolish slavery and those who fought hard for a woman's reproductive right (see Abortion). Liberals have also often fought for ecological integrity, protecting the environment, diversity of species, as well as indigenous populations’ rights. Almost all social betterment programs are funded by liberal institutions, and government funded social programs on education improvement, childrens’ rights, womens’ rights, etc. are all supported by liberals. Basically, social liberalism is the mature, understanding way in which to embrace individual differences, not according to ancient dogma or religious prejudice, but according to the ideals of humanity that have been cultivated by our experiences throughout history, summed up in that famous American maxim: “with liberty and justice for all.”
Using the term ‘liberal’ when speaking of economics is very confusing, as liberal in America is completely opposite to the rest of the world. Therefore, here, as I have been doing, I will concentrate on the American definition of liberal concerning economics.
Liberals believe that the rights of the people, of the majority, are to be valued much more sincerely than those of corporations, and therefore have frequently proposed the weakening of corporate power through heavier taxation (of corporations), environmental regulations, and the formation of unions. Liberals often propose the heavier taxation of WEALTHY individuals, while alleviating taxes on the middle class, and especially the poor. Liberals (American sense) do not support laissez-faire economics because, to put it simply, multinational corporations take advantage of developing countries and encourage exploitation and child labor (multinational corporations are spawned from laissez-faire policies). Instead, many propose the nationalization of several industries, which would make sure that wealth and power is not concentrated in a few hands, but is in the hands of the people (represented by elected officials in government). I am not going to go into the extreme intricacies of the economic implications of privatization of resources, etc., but will say that privatization and globalization have greatly damaged the economies of Latin America, namely Argentina and Mexico (see NAFTA).
This summation of the leftist ideology may not be 100% correct in all situations, as there are many variations on several issues and I may have depicted the current definition of “liberal” as too far to the left than it is generally accepted.
On that note, many leftists are critical of the political situation in America, claiming that the left is now in the center, as the general populace has been conditioned by institutions such as Fox News to consider “everything left of Hitler” (as one clever person put it) as radical liberalism.
I, myself, have observed that, in America, there are two basic types of liberals: those who concern themselves only with liberal policies on the domestic front, and either ignore international affairs or remain “patriotic” and dedicated to the “American way” (Al Franken, Bill Clinton, etc.)
And then there are those, despite the criticism they face from many fellow “liberals” (classified under the former definition), who are highly critical of US foreign policy, addressing such issues as Iran-Contra, the Sandanistas, Pinochet, Vietnam, NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, our trade embargo on Cuba, etc, etc. (such as Noam Chomsky, William Blumm, etc.)
Unfortunately, it seems that adolescent rage has run rampant on this particular word, and most definitions are either incoherent jumbles of insults and generalizations or deliberate spewing of misinformation (see the definition that describes the situation in Iraq, without addressing our suppression of popular revolts in Iraq, our pre-war sanctions on Iraq that have caused the death of some 5 million children, and our support for Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war, and even our post-war sale of biological elements usable in weapons to Saddam’s regime).
Hm...it seems that people have the terms "liberal" "socialist" and "communist" all confused. A communist is liberal. A socialist is liberal. But a liberal is not necessarily communist or socialist.
I am a liberal; I believe in equal rights for all, fair trade, compassionate foreign and domestic policies, and diplomacy instead of war.
Hinduism is a religion which originated in Ancient India, and holds the title of the oldest religion to date.
Hinduism is much more philosophically based than many monotheistic religions, and does not preach an eternal Hell or Heaven, salvation, redemption, nor does it promise eternal life on Earth. Hinduism does promise, however, a different form of "eternal bliss" and end to suffering. (explained below)
Hinduism has many holy texts, but the most sacred are the Vedas and Upinashads. The Bhagavad Gita, a section of the epic Mahabarata, is sometimes referred to as the "Hindu Bible" because in this text the Lord Krishna relays the major points of the Hindu faith to Arjuna, a warrior hero.
The major beliefs of Hindus include reincarnation, karma (the belief that actions in this life will contribute to the quality of the next life. good actions yield good results, bad yields bad), and ahimsa (nonviolence to all living things). Ahimsa will help one attain good karma, which in turn will help him/her achieve a higher quality next life. The ultimate goal of the Hindu is to achieve moksha, or union with the eternal soul, Brahman. (since the ultimate goal is a union with THE eternal soul, Hinduism is fundamentally "monotheistic," the visible manifestations of God such as Vishnu and Shiva are representations of Brahman, so that the human mind can comprehend it). Union with the eternal soul can be attained through meditation and yogic practices or dedication and devotion to one's duty. Because of this need for dedication to duty, the caste system was created by Krishna to keep people focusing on their jobs; HUMANS (not God) corrupted the system and discriminated against people of "lower" castes. Hinduism also urges people to be dispassionate because attachment to worldly objects is superficial and leads only to suffering.
Today, Hinduism is practiced mainly in India and Nepal, though it is spread throughout the world including the U.K., some countries in Africa, South America, and of course in the U.S.A.
Hinduism is one of the most tolerant religions in the world! It has complex philosophical concepts, is very widely practiced, is the oldest religion in the world, yet never tries to convert people!
Patriotism is a feeling of pride and love for one's country. Common acts of patriotism include erecting a flag of one's country in the home or yard, decorating one's car with as many flags as possible, and singing national tunes!
However, a deeper look into the "patriotic" mentality reveals something more complex and disturbing then the aforementioned phenomena. Why should anyone feel the need to exalt his own country over another? What is so special about his country that makes it so that he is "proud to be a (insert random nationality here)"? And what exactly is he proud of? Is patriotism being proud of one's heritage? If this is the case, then there should be no need to masquerade symbols of pride, for that is just arrogance! It is analogous to a situation where a man is very proud of his personal accomplishments. The man constantly walks around singing about his accomplishments, wearing clothing representing his accomplishments, and even writing books about his accomplishments! Is this not arrogance? Is this necessary? Rather, the man should be inwardly happy about his personal accomplishments, but should carry on with his business without boasting. Just as, in any country, a person should not become "patriotic," but should rather hold an inward respect for his country, equal to his respect for other countries. Because aren't all men created equal? And accordingly, culture, a creation of man, and religion, though somewhat more dubiously, a creation of man, are all equal. And there is no need for the exaltation of any particular nationality in any way, shape, or form.
Patriotism is perhaps THE single most effective political tool (though arguably less than religion). This concept of patriotism, of being proud of one's country, is used to control and condition the opinions of the general masses. For just one example of many, consider this:
Sympathizing with a little Iraqi child whose entire family was killed during the US invasion is unpatriotic. And if not unpatriotic, it is at least unimportant compared to the death of a US soldier, because God knows that American lives are more important than any other life!
Politicians will use patriotism to breed resentment to other races and nationalities, and to justify certain actions that otherwise would not be tolerated. It is important to understand that patriotism is also frequently used to "bind" a person to his country, and in doing so, stifle dissent, and make it generally unacceptable. Basically patriotism is a tool to make the general populace have a single opinion that is supplementary to the actions (or future actions) of the politicans in power at the time.
Let's be individuals! Let's not be sheep to be herded by the shephard that is "patriotism"!