These days, my friends and loved ones slide down both sides on the arc of the political rainbow, and I am a better person because of them. Without an array of conservative, moderate, and liberal thinkers in my inner circle, I would not have the ability to hold the debate inside of my head to ferret out what I hold true, what I struggle to understand, and what I cannot accept. Political discussions wake me up and remind me of my freedoms under our Bill of Rights, and my ease in taking them for granted growing up in America.
Notice I did not say United States of America. United states, united cities, united towns and communities seem to be a rare commodity. I am guarded in my discussions outside of family and friends usually withholding my thoughts and retreating from political conversations unless I am confronted head on. In a weird sort of way, today’s climate reminds me of the Scripture passage that predicts (and I am paraphrasing) a time when a father will be divided against his son, and a daughter against her mother. Because my parents are deceased, the passage would ring truer if it posited brother against sister, or sister against sister. If one digs deeper to learn more about the Christ speaking in this New Testament passage, and adheres to his message of loving and treating others as I want to be treated, there is hope that nothing will sever family bonds, or a connection to humanity.
As I write, I am doggedly working to balance myself on a tightrope of social opinion that is frayed and splitting. If asked to declare my political position, it would be something like independent moderate. Sounds incredibly vanilla and non-committal. Even at my past-middle age, I am still figuring out what I believe, where I stand and sit down, and when I kneel. Seems I haven’t figured out what will finally push me to speak up, shout out, and testify. I live under the umbrella of not wanting to hurt or disappoint anyone with my beliefs or opinions, but I have already been engaged in conversations with my family that have caused me to try to verbalize who I am politically, morally, and out-loud. It’s a good thing.
What isn’t happening in this column is a clear profession of my political beliefs. They remain nebulous, and I am fearful of putting it all out there because even now I do not know who I am at my core. Or, maybe I do know, and in fact, there lies the essence of my fear, the fear of being found out or defined, pigeon-holed and classified.
I believe in tolerance. I believe that every human being has value. I believe in free will. I believe that we need law to have order because respect isn’t always taught or exemplified. I believe in one God, and I believe in your right not to believe in any god or another god. I believe we share this earth. I believe my actions must be the mirror of how I want to be treated and that is when it all breaks down because I fail, because I judge, and because when I am not treated well, I forget to turn my cheek.
In the face of a presidential election about fifteen months away, I am already disillusioned. Leaders are human beings, and human beings are imperfect. Power in the hands of imperfection is dicey, even scary. Trust wanes and disappears in a divisive landscape, and I disdain any feeling of helplessness because I live under my own illusion of control.
Because I have not traveled to the borders to hand out disposable diapers, because I have not marched beside other women or in any pride parade, and because I do not Tweet and I am not on Facebook, the greatest recourse I have to make a difference or demonstrate what I believe seems to be in my neighborhood, at church, in downtown Beaufort or Port Royal, at the grocery store or Wal-Mart, at the post office, waiting in a doctor’s office, at the gas station pump, on the beach or bike path, walking my dog, in my kayak and RV, in writers groups, at Bayview, or on base. It seems to be all that I control – who I am where I am. And what am I? I’m just someone with one vote, and it will be November 3, 2020 before I know it.