We’re living through terrible times…terrible! And no one is making things better by trying to push the people around them into making irrevocable black or white choices. We are rainbow-hued, multi-opinionated human beings, not chess pieces being played across a two-dimensional board until one side is completely annihilated.
I don’t want to limit myself by choosing one side or the other. Hell, I can’t even self-identify as black or white! One of the great advantages of being Hispanic in America is that neither side will embrace us as one of their own, allowing us to see each group’s virtues and faults with equal detachment. There is much to admire and much to regret from each group, but frankly, what strikes me as tragic is that, with rare exceptions, I sense each cohort is scared to death of the other. WHY? We coffee-colored people are proof that individuals can get beyond an accident of melanin and embrace each other as fellow human beings. Why do people forsake their inborn, individual goodness and adopt the fearful, exclusive, violent stance of the collective?
I don’t want to do that. Similarly, I refuse to self-identify completely as any of the following:
- Democrat or Republican
- Liberal or conservative
- Pro-gun or anti-gun
- Militantly secular or fanatically religious
- Isolationist or imperialist
- Pro government or anti business
- Pro or anti government benefits
- Pro development or environmentally active
- Socially conservative or all-inclusive.
I used to think of myself as a conservative and a Republican… but I never did agree with 100% of the party’s policies. I was usually in agreement with the GOP’s economic agenda, but not with its social stance… particularly with its intolerance of LGBT rights. I strongly support gay marriage and equal rights… but are there things I question? Sure. The current movement to make public bathrooms all-gender inclusive isn’t one I’m embracing easily. I personally don’t mind peeing next to anyone, but I don’t want my daughter doing her business next to a guy. Whether he was born one or not is immaterial.
Furthermore, while I am 100% pro-life for myself, I have heard and understood other women’s reasons for terminating their pregnancies. Some of them were measured and heartbreaking. Unlike many in the GOP, I would not have wished a coat hanger or a back alley on any of them, and I would certainly have fought against treating any of these women as criminals (even my idiot co-worker who aborted her baby because it would interfere with the payments on her condo and BMW). Do I have the right answers? No. Does the GOP, with its unswerving opposition, or the Democratic party, with its unquestioning acceptance, have an answer that I can embrace wholeheartedly? No.
As for the gun thing, don’t get me started. Why is it easier to buy a gun… any gun… than it is to adopt a puppy? And why are so many of the same communities that are keeping me from owning a “dangerous pit bull” so willing to let me waltz into a store and purchase an assault rifle, designed to kill many humans quickly and effortlessly? Did the writers of the Second Amendment, who were armed with knives and muskets, intend to allow their neighbors to wield such frightful weapons? I don’t know… but I do suspect this: If we ban the lawful sale of guns, gun sales won’t end. They’ll go underground, and flourish. Guns will be bought by robbers, not store owners. They’ll be carried by burglars, not homeowners. They’ll be used by rapists, not women who need to live by themselves, or walk home from work unprotected. I don’t want anyone buying any guns…but should buying one always be illegal? Ugh.
And do evildoers needs guns of any kind to kill? No. Should we ban pressure cookers and nails? Pipes and manure? Are steak knives too long and too sharp? Must we rid our gardens of all bricks and rocks?
And why should anyone kill anyone else? The Bible tells us not to.
Oh. But here, we’re asked to take sides again. Some say the Bible is a religious book, and a source of dangerously outdated ideas embraced by right-wing religious fanatics, particularly Christians. (Jews, who are more likely to be left-wingers, only relate to the first half of the book.) The separation of Church and State demands that we shut up about the Bible, and take its words down from our courthouses and public buildings.
The same people who rant against the Bible will tell you that the Koran, which is also a religious text, is something to be protected. Muslims are to be welcomed, harbored, educated and housed. The small percentage of them that misinterpret the Koran, and use its words as provocation to kill American and European civilians in their own countries, are responding in a valid way to centuries of Western imperialism and colonization.
I am a Christian. That is one side I WILL take… and proudly. I don’t push my religion on anyone, but I’ll be damned if I apologize for it, hide it, deny it or denounce it. I will agree that a lot of people are doing a lot of really rotten, loveless things in the name of Christ, and I find their actions despicable. Are they damnable? That’s up to God, not me.
The Christ I know from the Scriptures would never have behaved in any way that was not loving. His disciples may have (don’t get me started on St. Paul and his pronouncements on acceptable hairstyles for men and women), but Jesus? He was a mensch. He loved everyone… and asked the rest of us to do the same.
How would he have felt about Muslims? Even the radical ones out to kill infidels? He would have taught us to love them. Would he have asked us to take them into our country without vetting each one first? I don’t know.
I don’t want us to open our borders to people who want to do us harm. I also don’t want to stop the further influx of nice Middle Eastern people like the surgeon who once saved my husband… the smiling, hijab-wearing cashier at the nearby Walmart… the sweet, dark-eyed fellow who pumps my gas in Edison… our old administrative assistant and her sons. They’re here to work, and pursue the American dream just like I am.
Do I vote for Trump, with his xenophobic message of exclusion and hatred? No. Do I vote for the other side, and say I am comfortable with totally open borders? No.
I don’t want to be pigeonholed, and I am sick and tired of hearing friends and loved ones say, “if you agree with me on this, then you MUST agree with me on this, that and the other… otherwise, I can’t agree with you on anything, and our relationship is, of necessity, over.
Why the hell are we all so intransigent? Why are we so angry? The anger amazes me. Republicans blame everything on the Democrats, even though they have Congress. Democrats blame everything on the Republicans, even though they have the White House. Why can’t we all stop blaming, and disagreeing, and throwing brickbats at each other, when we could accomplish so much more by trying to figure things out together, as individuals and as a nation? Why can’t we agree on some things and disagree on others, but treat each other with overarching respect?
This may be my sloppiest blog post yet, but I’m trying to figure things out. Hell, I haven’t even decided whether I’m retired or not! That may be something that’s decided for me, rather than by me.
But all these other decisions? It’s my right not to choose a definitive stand on any or every issue, and if anyone chooses to dismiss me for that reason, that’s not something I can control.