I habitually listen to NPR when I am driving in the car (or when I am riding with my dad in his car). It stems, I’m sure, from all of the years he would listen to NPR on the radio when my sisters and I were growing up. Because the car always had one of three things playing: NPR, CSNY’s So Far album cassette, or Steppenwolf. I love many of the shows on NPR, and because I don’t watch news on TV, it’s where I get most of my news.
They are undergoing one of their semi-annual pledge drives this week. There have been stories and quotes of why people choose to listen and why they choose to be members. Many of those have included comments about NPR as an unbiased news source (meaning they don’t lean politically liberal or conservative). This has made me think a lot about whether I believe that to be true.
Before really having reason to consider it, I would claim NPR to be a liberal news source. Sure, I think they have a good record of having representations from both sides of the aisle, so to speak. But my perception has always been to categorize it as liberal media. But maybe that isn’t actually the case. Perhaps a better way of thinking about it is denoted them as progressive instead of liberal. In some ways that was a mind-blowing revelation for me. Arguably progressive and liberal are two very different things. You can be moderate and progressive. You can be conservative and progressive. So, liberal and progressive really aren’t interchangeable adjectives as some people may claim them to be.
Then I started thinking about and applying this to my own beliefs and who I am. For a long time I’ve categorized myself as liberal, and at some points (especially during college) have claimed that to an extreme. But has that ever really been a fair assessment of me?
At this point in my life, whether because I’m older or because my own experiences have changed me, I’d consider myself a moderate. I don’t think the world is as black and white as I once did in terms of my beliefs and the people who hold office and represent myself and my voting “peers”. The world is more complex than merely siding along party lines. It’s more complex than believing with a narrow path of absolutes.
So I happily claim myself as a Progressive. We have to have change in order to move forward, even when it’s difficult. We have to be willing to be in conversation with one another in order to understand the other perspective and how we can best serve one another. I can be progressive and that doesn’t mean my views won’t change over time. I can be progressive and believe whatever I do about human rights, women’s rights, gun rights, educational rights, etc.
Being progressive is only a piece of the puzzle. But I wholeheartedly believe it makes me a more approachable human being, a human being who listens to learn and understand, a human being who recognizes the easy answer or the obvious answer is not always the best answer. I am human, I have faults–we all do. But we need to do better.
I started this blog post with a completely different title. Originally it was titled “Black or White,” referencing Michael Jackson’s song. But as I got to the last paragraph there was a completely different song going through my head:
There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day. There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, and tomorrow is jut a day away.
Man has a dream, and that’s the start. He follows his dream with mind and heart. And when his dream’s become a reality, it’s a dream come true for you and me.
So there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day. There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, and tomorrow’s just a day away.
Disney’s Carousel of Progress, originally created for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, is the home of this song. Currently, this “ride” is housed at Magic Kingdom at WDW. One of my dad’s favorite rides, it was a staple for our family trips to the park. It’s not the flashiest ride, but there is a great deal of nostalgia about it. And I think it exemplifies that progress keeps us moving, keeps us learning, keeps us working together.