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Lilian M.

Sherrard
November 30, 2015

Thoughts on Liberalism
Review of two books: Anna Karenina & 1000 Lashes: Because I
Speak My Mind
Recently I finished reading two books written in different eras and worlds apart. The first
was "1000 Lashes Because I Speak My Mind" by Saudi Arabia blogger named Raif Badawi.
This is a very short book, merely a collection of some of Raif's blogs compiled by friends and
published in the West. It caught my attention because Raif had not only been sentenced to jail for
10 year for being outspoken but also because he is supposed to receive 1,000 lashes as part of his
punishment. So far he has received 100 of them. Needless to say, I feel sorry for the guy. As I
enjoy freedom of speech in the West I felt obligated to buy the book and support his exiled wife
who now lives in Canada.
The other book is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian writer from the late
19th century. I have been reading this book for a year or two, picking it up every now and then.
At times I felt like giving it up since I was not enjoying all the drama in Anna's life. It felt like a
"telenovela" (soap opera). Then it got interesting again when Leo explored all the other
characters on his story. I am glad to have gotten to the end.
As different as these two books might seem they both explored the western concept of
liberalism. I cannot help now to feel even sorrier for Raif. He like others in the Middle East, is
trying to figure out what is wrong with his country. Why are there Muslim killing fellow
Muslims? Why it seems they are moving backwards instead of forward? I am not sure if Raif had
ever had the opportunity to read Tolstoy. Perhaps he would have reach different conclusions.
You see, Raif is looking at the West as prosperous and forward looking. It seems when he thinks
of "liberal" countries he thinks of those that left religion aside and forged ahead to create a more
open and inclusive society.

THOUGHTS ON LIBERALISM

Now the liberal concept started on the late 19th century and its ramifications where
explored by many including Tolstoy. He, being the master writer that he was, takes those new
concepts of his era and explores them in his books. He created intricate stories that explored all
the what if's of the new ideas of his time. Should divorce be all common and permissible?
Should women get educations like men? Is religion relevant anymore? Do we have a soul? Is
there a God out there?
Although some of his ideas about what women were thinking may seem strange to modern
women, he portraits the feminine characters fairly true to his time. Knowing his wife helped with
proofreading on this novel tells me he had some help in developing some of his female
characters. Of course from my end of history, having seen and experienced all the implications
of those liberal concepts makes me wants to scream to Raif, "be careful of what you wish for."
For example, let us talk about infidelity and divorce which was the main theme of Anna
Karenina. These are rampant on our Western society and causes so much pain to those involves.
In Tolstoy story, Anna is the adulterous women that leaves husband and child for a new "love". I
will not go into all the details of this romantic drama. The story is extremely long and torturous.
Let us just say it was not real "love" but lust and in the end all Anna could think of was about her
own feelings and not how her actions made everyone else feel. In the end everyone associated
with her, husband, two children, and her "lover" Bronsky, were ruined and complete emotional
wrecks. It seem this cautionary tale was forgotten and divorce is so prevalent in our "liberal"
Western society. All of us if honest enough will admit that a failed marriage is a painful affair for
everyone around. Multiply that thousands upon thousands of affected families and is no wonder
we are all trying to drown our pains in alcohol and drugs of every kind.
Of course other ideas in Tolstoy's story were worth promoting. Like women education for
which I am grateful. Otherwise I would not be here writing this today. I am sure Raif and those
trying to make better countries will just like to grab those western ideals that are good, like
freedom of speech, education for all, the ability to elect your own government and others. Yet
these are not "liberal" issues as understood by the West, but simply the result of free countries
that place value in each individual human life.
The question that Raif should ask is why are these kind of values so prevalent in the West?
Where did we get the idea that each person has some undeniable rights? These values where
starting to develop well prior the 19th century once Christians were getting back to reading and
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understanding the bible, rather that following blindly the teaching of religious leaders. That is
when things started to change for the West.
I can see how Raif wants so badly to get separation of state and the "church" in his country.
His religious leaders have made a mess of his country. He needs to be cautious though, because
simply removing the Islamic leaders out of government affairs will not simply resolve all matters
and transform his country into a more prosperous one. It may help somewhat but the key is to
allow individuals to search for their Creator and pursue a relationship with Him.
Void of religion altogether we end with fascism and communism. People will always look
to worship something or someone. I would argue this is the case because that is the way we were
created. The problem, and this is so evident in the West, is that when we worship the wrong
thing, money, status, political or religious figures, or just us, things start to fall apart. Our world
is always in chaos because we worship the wrong thing or person. For a free society to work
properly we have to love one another. But we cannot learn to do that apart from our Creator. God
knows this and that we couldn't do this in our own strength. So He decided to send a part of
himself down to this planet to show us the way.
To some in the West this is a bold statement but is the truth, because Jesus came down to
this earth, is that the West can enjoy some forms of freedom. He was the one to show us that the
most important thing apart from loving God was to love one another, including our enemies. It
was Jesus that said that if we cannot love the people around us that we see, how can we say we
love God who we cannot see? Without this guiding truth, the world falls apart. A free society
cannot function without people willing to work for the good of others.
So it is not liberalism that makes the West so prosperous. In fact it is what is destroying us.
Our selfish society sometimes can care less what happens to those less fortunate. As long as I am
happy that is what counts, right? But we cannot be really happy by loving ourselves more than
others as liberals might pretend. They may say, are you unhappy in your marriage? Just get a
divorce. Never mind that it is usually the kids and the women that suffer the most and end in
poverty. Are you pregnant but don't want a child? Just get rid of it, abort it. Throw it away. Your
needs preceded those of your child. Too old and suffering? Dont worry we will help you end
your sorry life. We have a term for this, it is call "assisted suicide."
Somehow a doubt this is the kind of "liberal" thinking Raif is looking to have in his
country. I am sure he is not just looking to be "liberated" of his oppressive religious society but
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to be free to search and build a better country for him and his family. I would suggest to him to
look more closely at the words of Jesus. When we all start loving one another like we love
ourselves then we would all start living in a better world. It may take another millennia for
humans to get to that kind of world but I trust in God to guide us there. After all, if he cared
enough to send his one and only Son to this insignificant planet in the universe and show us the
way back to Him, I think he cares enough to see His plans come to fruition. His word will not
come back to him empty. On that day we won't be wasting our resources in fighting each other
but will work together for a common good. Each individual, out of the goodness God has
bestowed on them will, on his own free will, work to benefit someone else. Then at last a society
of those truly free, will be the paradise for those who truly believe.
In the meantime it will not hurt if we all starting to practice those principles. Not the
liberal principles of me but the principle of loving God and loving others. This is the way to a
better world.

THOUGHTS ON LIBERALISM