Those of you who have been around for a while may have noticed a pretty significant change in my writing when it comes to politics.
Back in the early days of this here blog, I was pretty vocal about being a fiery conservative, hating the liberal agenda, thinking our nation was sunk if this Obama guy got into office (I sobbed on election night when West Philly erupted into cheers), and devouring every poorly-spliced YouTube video of Obama with a communist flag waving behind him (complete with ominous background music). This is not something I am proud of, at all.
(Though in my defense, I must tell you I have never once listened to either Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. Not once.)
I was always at odds with my friends in Philadelphia. The politics of the area seeped into my blood and made it boil over till I was walking around in a hot, sticky mess of anger, ignorance, and intolerance. I hated that feeling. I hated posting something political and watching the vitriolic comments pour in, each one feeling like a stab at my intelligence, morals, or beliefs. I hated that people didn't seem interested in what I had to say unless it was something they could fight with me about. My friends and I tolerated each other on a superficial level, but as soon as anything political was brought up, voices were raised and feelings were hurt, and the contrarian in all of us came out. I regret this deeply, especially since time I could have spent cultivating friendships was instead spent steaming and stewing.
Then we moved to California. Now obviously the Bay Area isn't known for its conservative politics, but the feeling here was different. I still do not know the political affiliations of most people I go to church with or live close to. Now that I didn't feel the need to be so blasted defensive all the time, I was able to look inward and see that I didn't agree with Ann Coulter's brashness, or the Republican need to carry a gun all the time, nor was I willing to throw my recyclables in the trash because that whole "being green" thing was just a crazy liberal plot. I wanted to be a responsible citizen of the planet like my religion taught me to be, but without the political buzzwords. I started recognizing that there is some serious brilliance on both sides of the political aisle and that people's intentions are generally good; we just don't always agree on how to get things done and help people who need help.
I would still describe myself as a conservative-leaning moderate, but I don't feel the need to smack people over the head with it anymore. I've realized that posting biting remarks and insulting arguments never convinces anyone that you're right; it simply riles up those who already agree with you, and turns off those who don't. And to be honest, I want to live in a peaceful environment. I want to surround myself with happy people who don't want to fight or argue, but want to discuss things lovingly and find common ground. I still feel passionate about some political issues but with more productive intention and with less defensiveness. The change within me over the past few years since I have come to this conclusion has been significant. I am so much happier.
I respect President Obama. I respect that he is a wonderful husband and father, and that he is willing to go gray in the service of this country. I also respect Mitt Romney, his character, and his willingness to take on the daunting, demanding role of President, should it be his. I think any man who steps into that oval office and works dawn till dusk and beyond for our country for 4-8 years deserves respect. I refuse to trash talk a man in that office. I will never agree with everything that a President of either party chooses to do -- and if I disagree enough, I will use my right to vote to express that. But hate is not an option that I can live with. Yes, let's talk about politics and make changes that need to be made and support causes that we believe in, but let's do so with respect and an acknowledgement that differing opinions should not be threatening to relationships.
I refuse to let politics consume me, keep me on edge or make it impossible to feel peaceful in my own skin. Who's with me?
Tuesday, November 6, 2012