Thursday, October 23, 2008

Political talk and families

The country is really, truly divided over the issues of politics. I am so passionate about my own politics - socially liberal, fiscally conservative, pascifist (even while recognizing that war is out there and needs to be dealt with) - that I have to work hard at reminding myself that the other viewpoints are not evil, merely different.

That's how divided it seems: a battle between good an evil. How medievil of me, of us! The world is rarely that black and white, and politics are certainly no exception to that rule. It is so difficult to remember those distinctions of gray when one's heart and mind are set on a particular viewpoint.

It's hard for me. I pride myself on my open mindedness, and on my compassion towards others. Never is compassion put more to the test than with a difference of opinion. It is easy to feel sorry for someone who likes you and behaves like you but is having a hard time; it is harder to feel compassion towards someone who holds utterly different values, who doesn't like you, who doesn't behave like you.

This, I think, is the true test of compassion. Of course I feel compassion for my daughter - I love her deeply and her welfare impacts me at every level. But it's harder to support those who drive wars that I see as unjust, or who try to remove personal rights like pro-choice, supporting same-sex marriage, or other hot buttons of mine. I believe in separation of church and state, and I'm open to the idea that all religions have valuable lessons for us. I'm not opposed to regulation, or universal healthcare, and if these make me have the label "socialist" than I will accept that label. (And oh, just look at the bundle of worms I just opened....!)

The best way for me to look at this is to examine my family. I'm the most liberal person perhaps on either side of my family - the family I was born into, and the family I joined through marriage. I learned a long time ago how to make myself busy in the kitchen when political conversations came up, or to find a need to attend to with Tessa, or to find someone else in the room who wasn't talking politics. I know where I stand on the political spectrum.... and I know where my family stands. I don't feel a need to convert anyone, especially when I see that their passion is equal to my own and frankly they're not looking for conversion.

But you know what? I love my family. As individuals, they support me, love me, and share their lives with me. I do not always share their viewpoints, but this is okay. I know that they love their children, that they honor their families, that they do their best to do their best. I also know that one person's definition of 'best' is different than another's.

I do not judge them - or I try very hard not to - because I do not wish to be judged.

I know who I am, and I know what I believe in, and I feel good about those things. I am confident in my faith, in my politics, in my social, political, and religious viewpoints. I try VERY hard to live according to my own values, and to reach out to those less fortunate to myself, and to be a positive influence in my own small circles, offering smiles, friendship, and compassion to everyone in my path. I don't always succeed in this, of course, but I try to remember that nobody's perfect and to learn from my mistakes.

I have to learn the lessons over, and over, and over again. I make a lot of mistakes.

Anyway, in this election, there are many hot buttons to vote for, or against. It drives me absolutely crazy when people make their vote based on gut reaction, rather than facts, but that is their perogative. I also recognize that some people will look at the same facts that I'm looking at and draw different conclusions.

There are many McCain supporters in my life, and I love them, despite my distaste for the McCain/Palin ticket. Whoever wins the election, some people in my family will "lose," seeing their value system get voted down. This is tragic in so many ways, but it is a reality of democracy - it's impossible for everyone to win. I will try to remember that if Obama wins, and I'm cheering and happy, that those on the other side will still need love and tenderness and listening. And I hope that those who vote for McCain will behave that way towards me if McCain wins instead.

Family - ahhhh. Such a complicated mess. Somehow, though, we have managed to stick it out this far, to continue to respect one another, and to refrain from engaging one another in debate about our hot buttons when we know that we ought to refrain. We could debate each other into the ground, but it would serve no purpose, so instead, we love one another even if we do an occassional roll of our eyes when we get home.

This gives me room to be hopeful.

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