Monday, August 13, 2012

Gold Star if You Get Through This One!

Kenan Thompson as the "Fix It!" guy
I have no destination in mind for this ramble, just getting stuff off my chest...

Let’s start with a status update my brother put on Facebook: “What is up with someone saying that I or someone like me ‘clearly just does not understand the issues this country faces’? Maybe I just disagree...” I’m sure we have all heard this tagline plenty of times regarding the current election. And while I am not going to spew out my political views, I AM going to say that it is clear that we all have them. And while we can understand the issues facing America just fine, we may differ on how best to fix things. (Remember that faux news commentator on SNL Weekend Update that would just yell out, “FIX IT!”?)

For instance, my aunt, a liberal to the core, is completely sure that Republicans have absolutely no regard for the poor whatsoever. In a recent conversation, I told her that it was my understanding that at least some Republicans are actually pretty dang concerned about the poor. It’s just that their idea of how to help them involves supporting businesses so they can hire the poor, and the poor can then help themselves. So it appears that they only give a sh*t about the rich, ie. businesses. Well, apparently this aunt of mine who is in her seventies had never heard such a thing! She just labeled them all a-holes and didn't look back. And some ARE a-holes. But some are not.

It is my impression that many people – like my aunt – tend to immerse themselves in opinions they already have. My Facebook newsfeed is chock full of people spreading their views in accordance with this or that side of the political debate... some are perfectly civilised and well-reasoned (and if you are reading this, then of course this is you!); sometimes they offer humorous memes; sometimes they frame their plea as a life-or-death situation; sometimes they are downright jerkish... and I emphasize – the jerkishness comes from BOTH sides. They certainly have a right to post whatever they want, but I tired of it all early in the process, and ceased to read the rhetoric from either side, including my own. I wonder if any of the posters (I typed “posers” at first - Freudian slip?!) know that the only people who are likely to read the stuff is people who already agree with them... and they are probably not going to convince anyone to switch sides at this point in the game. 

OMG! Tom Petty looks hot in this pic!
That said, I have actually switched sides in the course of my life and I’m not going to say where I started or where I ended up, but ideological change IS possible, so I myself am proof that what I just wrote is not necessarily true. Often those who have been converted to a viewpoint are the most adamant to defend it, but I think that having held varying views at different times helps me to see both sides. Yes, I have been moved... but it was over time, and not because of anyone’s Facebook post.

Anyway, so I’m thinking about this question my bro asked and everything I just wrote above and the guy who gave the sermon at church, a passionate fellow called Rick Hove, said that many people have a certain way of perceiving reality, and believe that this is the way things really are. Of course, when he said this, I thought, “That’s EXACTLY how my husband is,” and my husband was probably thinking, “That’s EXACTLY how my wife is.” 

Really, I’m guessing this describes just about everyone, right? Of course I like to think that I’m flexible, but the very fact that I am writing a blog shows that I have a point of view to air. I would like to point out, though, that my view includes a certain amount of confusion, questions and I-don’t-knows... which, earlier I considered sort of wishy-washy, but now I’m starting to be kind of proud of. Of course pride goeth before the fall, so I’m looking to trip up any minute now... Maybe you’re witnessing it right now?!

And I do realize that some people admire a person who has firm opinions and stands by them. Heck, I used to know people who would say, “I may disagree with Jesse Helms, but I vote for him because I admire how he sticks to his guns!” This made no sense to me. I mean, in effect, they were voting for a person who was working mulishly hard for all that they’re against. Now is it just me, or does that seem odd?

And while I’m talking about my blog, I have to wonder if the wishy-washy nature of it means I am trying to please both sides? Because that would be like me, right? Always trying to please people? I have to hope that my questions and confusion are genuine, not just a way to avoid controversy. In my mind there ARE many issues that have all sorts of facets that are worth exploring, and I can’t claim to know the right and wrong of it. I remember once when I was a new Christian and confounded about the whole free will vs. determination question, the following thought came into my head, “Julie, this is one of those things you’re allowed to not know.” It seemed like a revelation and a huge relief to me – that it isn’t necessary to figure out the answer to every single question.

The Apostles – love their creed!
And while I have many such questions, there are other tenets of the faith that I hold in the deepest part of me... The basics of the Apostle’s Creed, for instance. Here’s how we said it in the Methodist Church I grew up in: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”

Yeh... I’m not going to back down on that stuff – even if stood up against the gates of hell, as Tom Petty would say. Other than that, though, I’m pretty chill. I do HAVE political opinions... but I have no idea if they are correct. And since debate is so heated just now, I’m just going to keep them to myself. 

Another opinion I have is this: politics can do a lot of good, and also a lot of bad, but I don't believe it's going to save the world. However, Christ actually has done so already, and THAT'S what I'd rather spend time talking about!

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