Identifying As A Thinker

Over the course of my 16 years of living in Morris, I have written many editorials for the local newspaper, and on more than a dozen occasions, I have received hate mail or email for expressing my views, mostly from townspeople I have never met.

What surprises me about these unkind and sometimes threatening messages is the accusation that I am a liberal.

Here is why that is amusing. I teach at the University, and some students and faculty members accuse me of being a conservative. There is a reason for this. My positions about hot-button topics tend to be complex and nuanced. For instance, I am pro-choice, which is why fanatical conservatives (not all conservatives are fanatics) call me a liberal, but I favor strict restrictions after the first trimester, which is why loony liberals (not all liberals are loony) call me a conservative.

As for myself, I identify as neither liberal nor conservative. When asked, I characterize myself as a thinker. There are complicated social and political issues which require mastery of large bodies of information and rigorous forms of thinking, and instead of sacrificing my ability to learn or think by adopting the ready-made views of conservatives or liberals, I choose to do the difficult work of carefully studying the material under consideration and then thinking through all the possibilities for myself.

The categories of liberal and conservative are reductive and even poisonous. We do not have to be enemies. My editorials are not intended to support a liberal or conservative agenda. They are intended to stimulate thinking and to inspire informed conversations. Thinking is so much bigger and more important than small-minded words like liberal or conservative.

Written and submitted by Michael Lackey, Morris Resident