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02 November 2008 @ 07:33 pm
Politics and Values: I Thought You Meant It  
I didn't write the text below, but the individual who did asked not to be identified, saying in their post titled "repost as desired anywhere!": "If you should choose to share this, (I am flattered and) please don't attribute it! I don't want it to be mine. I want it to belong to everyone who feels this way."

I think this essay is wonderful and it very much reflects how I feel about my much more liberal political views than those of my father.

I Thought You Meant It

I have friends of different races because when you taught me not to judge people based on how they look, I thought you meant it.

I respect other people's religious beliefs because when you taught me that a person's religion is between them and God, I thought you meant it.

I believe in universal health care and social assistance because when you taught me to be kind to those less fortunate than myself, and when you taught me that people are more important than money, I thought you meant it.

I support equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples because when you taught me that every person has the same human worth (and also to keep my nose out of other people's business), I thought you meant it.

I am environmentally conscious because when you taught me to take no more than I need, and to clean up after myself if I make a mess, I thought you meant it.

I support reproductive rights because when you taught me I shouldn't judge someone when I don't know what their circumstances are, I thought you meant it.

I am dismayed that you would call someone "elitist" merely because they are educated -- because when I became one of the first people in our family to earn a college degree, and you told me how proud I'd made you, I thought you meant it.

I am not ashamed if these things make me a liberal, because you taught me not to let other people belittle me about what I stand for, and I choose to believe you meant it.
 
 
Current Location: Tucson, AZ
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
 
 
 
shuttergalshuttergal on November 3rd, 2008 05:32 am (UTC)
Powerful stuff - I am right therer as the daughter of a politically mixed household. G'Obama!!
Pamela D Lloyd: girl in togapdlloyd on November 3rd, 2008 06:21 am (UTC)
Yes. I think my parents disagreed about politics, but the way they handled it was that my mother simply refused to discuss political issues with my dad. I also think that his views when he was younger were less, uhm, set, than they are now, as he used to consider himself an independent and now is a staunch Republican. But, the unfortunate thing for me growing up was that the only political views I ever heard expressed directly were my dad's. OTOH, my mother was, I believe, the one who primarily shaped my sense of morality. I've never quite recovered from having my dad call me a traitor when he learned of my vote for Bill Clinton in 1992; it was at that point that I placed a moratorium on political conversations with him, although he still feels the need to test my resolve now and then.
shuttergalshuttergal on November 3rd, 2008 06:58 am (UTC)
I was amazed when I brought down the "we can't talk politics" and he stopped and said, "you're right." Man, I'd never heard those out of his mouth before. He forgets, but he abides reminders.
Pamela D Lloyd: feelingspdlloyd on November 3rd, 2008 07:10 am (UTC)
My dad rarely admits that he's in the wrong. Among other things, he has difficulty understanding that any reasonable, intelligent person can genuinely hold any opinion in disagreement with his own. He loves me, but simply can't see past his own take on any situation.
asakiyume: mirokuasakiyume on November 3rd, 2008 09:11 am (UTC)
I love the Laurie Anderson song "Kokoku" for many many reasons, but one is because it contains the lines

You know? We could all be... wrong.
Wouldn't be the first time.

I remember listening to that and thinking, this applies to me. I might be wrong.... and it's been a humbling and worthwhile reminder ever since.

This was a lovely post! I have stayed in the same (liberal) political camp as my parents, which is why it's I, and not them, who needs the reminder that I might be wrong... (because I'm more likely to be unquestioning...)
Pamela D Lloyd: lady with cuppdlloyd on November 3rd, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we're both pretty hard-headed. Realistically, each of us is wrong some of the time and both of us have trouble acknowledging that. I think it's not so much the disagreement that has bothered me, but the fact that my dad has descended to the point of name-calling, rather than having any kind of reasoned discussion of the issues. I remember breaking my silence once while my boys were still in high school, when he was visiting us and decided to instruct them in his views of liberalism, which he equates with communism. His definition was so extreme that I literally got out the dictionary to point out the true meaning of the word, only to have him declare that the dictionary was wrong.
asakiyumeasakiyume on November 3rd, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
Hopefully your boys understood that when an adult says "Well, then the dictionary is wrong," it's more likely the adult that's wrong.

When my kids have been exposed to someone's extreme views, I've tried to say to them afterward, "Well, so-and-so thinks that, but generally you'll find that when someone says XXX, they mean [more popularly accepted definition].

By the way, I wasn't implying that you were hard-headed at all! Clearly, you're a person who thinks about stuff and arrives at an independent opinion... I was just segueing because in my own case, I need the reminder... I might be wrong, and not just in trivial matters, but maybe even in big ones. ...That said, there's only so much self-examination you can do at any one time. If I've thought about something and the conclusion I've reached satisfies me, I can't keep reexamining it; I usually let it be until something else comes up to make me think about it again.
Pamela D Lloyd: lady of shalotpdlloyd on November 3rd, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
Hopefully your boys understood that when an adult says "Well, then the dictionary is wrong," it's more likely the adult that's wrong.

I think it was pretty clear to my boys that the dictionary is a more authoritative source of information than my dad. :>

When my kids have been exposed to someone's extreme views, I've tried to say to them afterward, "Well, so-and-so thinks that, but generally you'll find that when someone says XXX, they mean [more popularly accepted definition].

I'm a bit less tactful than that, I guess. I would probably avoid directly disagreeing, unless it was a very good friend and I knew we could discuss those views without creating any kind of ill will. In general, I find that people with extreme views are pretty set on keeping them and don't want to hear other views.

By the way, I wasn't implying that you were hard-headed at all!

Thanks for your kind thoughts about me. I didn't think you were trying to imply that, but I'm afraid I have to admit to the fault. (Of course, the more positive way of saying hard-headed, is determined. *g*)

Clearly, you're a person who thinks about stuff and arrives at an independent opinion... I was just segueing because in my own case, I need the reminder... I might be wrong, and not just in trivial matters, but maybe even in big ones. ...That said, there's only so much self-examination you can do at any one time. If I've thought about something and the conclusion I've reached satisfies me, I can't keep reexamining it; I usually let it be until something else comes up to make me think about it again.

*blush* Thank you. I do agree that I try ("try" being the operative word) to think about things and to come to reasonable conclusions, but as you said, there's only so much self-examination one can do.

It's funny. I took a college course in philosophy (ethics, actually) back in the late seventies, where we discussed such things as relative vs. absolute good and evil. Somewhere along the line I'd already come across that concept and I pretty much come down on the relative side intellectually, but in practice I find I react more from the absolute perspective, and I think most of us do this, as well. Relative good/evil is fine for discussion, and very important to remember when you're dealing with someone from another culture, but in practice we make our decisions based on what we believe is right or wrong and very rarely (at least once we've completed our soul-searching about an issue) do we stop to think about whether our ideas of right and wrong are correct. But, to get back to the point I was meaning to make, I discovered that the course in ethics didn't really change the way I think about ethical issues, so much as it changed the way I think about thinking about ethical issues. If only, by teaching me the difference between morality and ethics. As a teen I had examined the various moral views I held and in the process of examining them, I'd come to my own ideas about what constituted right and wrong. In so doing, I learned in my class, I'd developed a set of ethics.

I'm sure I'm mangling the actual definitions, but I basically think of morals as the set of values that we've learned, those ideals handed down to us by our parents and the society at large, and ethics as the set of reasoned values we've developed for ourselves.
shuttergalshuttergal on November 3rd, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. I know of where you speak.
Eneiteneit on November 3rd, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC)
That's very simple, and powerful, if I was to write something along the same vein to my parents, though, each line would end I know you meant it.

Yeah, I was pretty lucky. In our house political views were so long as you do your research, and choose the person you believe to be right person to get the job done, you can't make a wrong choice as far as your family are concerned. My folks always encouraged us to listen lots, discuss the whys and wherefores, and make our own minds up.
Pamela D Lloyd: gingerbread house lovepdlloyd on November 3rd, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, I really appreciated the eloquent expression of these core values and how the values informed their politics.

It sounds like your family takes a very sensible and caring approach to this kind of discussion. I wish that all young people were encouraged to think for themselves in this way.
handwornhandworn on November 4th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
Well, with some of those things it's completely possible and logically consistent to live a life that way and encourage it in others, but not to be in favor of it as a basis for government policy, or to be in favor of its institutionalization. I don't know what your father actually thinks, but that would be a legitimate viewpoint.
Pamela D Lloyd: bright leaves against dark skypdlloyd on November 4th, 2008 12:52 am (UTC)
Well, it's probably not fair to my dad for me to dissect him any more than I already have, so I'm not going to detail what I think he believes about any of the specific points above. However, I would like to address the primary point you make about the connection between my beliefs and why I feel it should or should not be addressed at a governmental level. Since this will be fairly long and I've already left one essay-length comment, I'm going to create a new post for my response.
mmegaera on November 4th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
I quit arguing politics with my dad when I went off to college (we used to get into some knock-down drag-outs that always ended with his unwavering insistence that I wasn't old enough to know anything about politics, even when we were studying civics at school). He died just after I turned 34. And part of me still misses trying to convince His Hardheadedness that other opinions than his own are still valid.

It's funny, the things you miss about people once you no longer have them around.

Then again, I'm at least cancelling my mother's vote out, and not wishing I could cancel them both out anymore...
Pamela D Lloyd: feelingspdlloyd on November 4th, 2008 05:11 am (UTC)
Yeah, I understand what you mean. Before we started arguing about politics, we could argue happily about all sorts of things, without either of us really getting our feathers ruffled. I miss that. (He still doesn't believe that I almost never argue with anybody but him.)

I miss my mom, too. She was a wannabe writer, often talking about how someday she would write, until a stroke took away her ability to do so. It's one of the things that keeps nagging at me, whenever my own writing slows down. (Which happens far more often than I want to admit.)