By Rev David Watson, Clark Memorial Parish Church.

Last week in an interview with the Financial Times, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, argued that “liberalism had become obsolete” and that liberal ideas about refugees, migration and LGBT were now opposed by “the overwhelming majority of the population.”

Vladimir Putin is not well known as an advocate of liberal values or of human rights. Since his days in the KGB, he is a master of the dark arts of misinformation and disinformation. Russia is a wonderful country with friendly people and a rich culture but has never had liberal government and Vladimir Putin is the latest in a long line of Russian Tsars. The right to choose a government in free and fair elections and the rule of law not only ensures our freedoms but it underpins our prosperity. Russian economic development is hamstrung by the corruption and cronyism which stems from an authoritarian government.

Tomorrow is Independence Day in the United States of America. It is a national holiday when they celebrate liberty, but liberty and human rights are still is a work in progress here, there and everywhere. On 28th August 1963 Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech in Washington DC about his dreams for the future and the following is an excerpt,

“I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. …I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today…I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together…

His words are inspirational, we still have some way to go to reach a point where there is no discrimination on the grounds of age, gender, religion, disability, race or with whom you happen to fall in love. However we are on a journey and have made some progress despite what Vladimir Putin says. Liberal values and human rights have been fought for over centuries and sometimes paid for with a heavy price, we shouldn’t take them for granted.