Through the Eyes of a Concerned Liberal argues that the socio-political position of liberalism is the only one that can get us back on course toward the now-vanishing “enlightenment ideal”. This was the vision of the “founding fathers,” looking to a time when all of the conditions of life--social, political, moral, and intellectual, as well as material--would be realized for everyone--the “American dream.”
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Taking a hard look at the present social-political situation in North America, Dr. Zeigler offers a self-evaluation test for the reader to determine his/her socio-political=political stance on a spectrum (from far right to far left). (Other “tests” serve to evaluate, respectively, both one’s philosophy of life and/or religion and recreational quotient “RQ”.) The United States, the author asserts, simply does not appreciate that its current “imperial” status will be sorely tried in the 21st century.
The U.S.A. must now prove that its brand of capitalism and democracy, one that purports to offer a maximum of individual freedom within a democratic political system, is the best approach for the entire world to emulate. However, capitalism and ecology have become social forces on a collision course in this evolving cultural matrix. The individual citizen in this setting must be fully informed and must serve actively and responsibly to implement a liberal agenda.
The author offers 49 short essays, columns, and self evaluation devices that reflect his position. In the final analysis, each person should choose a life purpose based on (1) a comprehensive philosophy of life, (2) a concurring, socio-political stance, and (3) a search for “the good life” in a hopefully free society.
We can't be sure about what the future holds. However, if the study of the past is credible, we can surmise that there will be continuing uncertainty. In defense of such a condition, we can argue that uncertainty is both dynamic and stimulating as it concomitantly provides a challenge to us all. What should concern us, however, is the amount of individual freedom we are permitted living within a type of political state known as a democracy. We still have to prove that democracy is possible (i.e., successful and rewarding in a variety of senses) over a period of centuries. The prevailing trend toward an increasing number of full-time politicians and an overwhelming percentage of indifferent citizens does not bode well for the future.
The various political communities in the Western world that are democratic political states should stress the concept of political involvement much more strongly to their citizens. They should also promote this ideal whenever and wherever possible to so-called Third World countries as they become ready to make a choice. In addition to reviving and reconstructing the challenge to people within these countries, we should continue to work for the common good--for freedom, justice, and equality for people all over the world who aspire to better lives for themselves and their children. If people can learn to live with each other in relative peace, the world may not see devastating nuclear warfare with its inevitable results. As the historian McNeill (1963) stated, "The sword of Damocles may therefore hang over humanity indefinitely" (p. 804).
I believe that Americans, and many Canadians as well, do not fully comprehend their unique position in the history of the world's development. In all probability this status will change radically in the 21st century. For that matter, I believe that the years ahead are going to be really difficult and trying for all of the world’s citizens. However, the United States, as the one major nuclear power, has deliberately assumed the ongoing, overriding task of maintaining large-scale peace. The States has also taken the lead in seeking to put down the terrorist threat so evident in all quarters around the globe. This will be an interminable task, increasingly difficult and worrisome because a variety of countries, both large and small, may already have, or may soon have, nuclear arms capability. That is one stark fact what makes the future so fraught with danger for us all. . . .