The L-word

Talking over coffee at Peet’s one recent morning, Councilman Larry Wahl gave me an interesting critique of the Chico News & Review. It centered on a single word, representative of a broader attitude.

Why, he wondered, does this paper refer to him and his political comrades as “conservatives” and his ideological opposites as “progressives"—not “liberals"?

The reason is that’s how they refer to themselves. And who can blame them, considering how often the L-word gets uttered like the F-word? “LIB-er-uhl"—disdain oozing from every syllable—is the term of undearment favored by Rush Limbaugh et al. when discussing their dissenters.

“Liberal” actually is a great word. I view it as a compliment. Look at its dictionary definition:

a one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways

b capitalized a member or supporter of a liberal political party

c an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rights

Liberalism’s definitions include “a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties.”

Progress. Progressive. It’s a logical progression.

Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster’s definitions of conservatism include “the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change.” Perhaps that applies to labels as well …

The M-word: Another term I like is “moderate,” used as a modifier. (Again, courtesy of M-W: “avoiding extremes of behavior or expression.”) Some see moderation as a bad thing; I look at its antonym and see far more room for concern. How many people who knock moderates really like extremists?

“Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is always a vice"—you tell ’em, Thomas Paine!

The U-word: “Unanimity” was the order of the day at the city of Chico’s budget session, with every motion passing unopposed. (See Newslines for details.) Progressives and conservatives, side-by-side, voting to exercise moderation …

The C-word: Nope, not conservative, conservationist or constitutionalist—we’re switching from politics to health.

“Cancer,” to quote a subject of this week’s cover story, “is indiscriminate, invasive, insidious.” If you aren’t personally affected now, count your blessings—in all likelihood, the disease will hit your circle of family or friends. When it does, take comfort in the fact that support is close at hand, through the Enloe Cancer Center.

Enloe has faced criticism over the years, yet even when Chicoans have turned on the hospital administration, they’ve reached out to the cancer center. Thousands of origami cranes, made and given in 2005, hang in tribute at the Cohasset Road complex. Soon to join them will be “flags of hope,” one-foot squares decorated by community members at the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life Saturday (June 2) at Chico State. Enloe’s Rebecca Senoglu is hoping for 600 flags to string over the center’s garden, but considering she sought 1,000 cranes and got 25,000 …

The H-word: “Hope.” That says it all.