Warning, it’s my blog so you are getting my opinion. I make no pretensions at being impartial, I don’t get paid for that. Heck, I don’t get paid at all. I do try very hard to be fair and I do not wish to be unkind. You want another opinion, fine, but this one is mine.
I use Facebook a fair amount. I say “fair amount”, my better half would probably characterize that as a lot. As per often, I disagree. I’d say I go in spurts. A couple of times a week I’ll post three or four things in a day, then I won’t post for a few days. I do make a point to spend a few minutes on Facebook each day. I like seeing what my friends are doing. And when I say “friends” I really mean friends. If I haven’t actually met you then I don’t accept your friend request. It’s nothing personal; I’m just funny that way. I won’t “like” a page either unless it’s something that I actually know and like.
So when I go on Facebook it really is to catch up on friends, especially those that are far away. It’s wonderful that in a few clicks I can see what Sarah-from-college’s daughter Sheridan is up to, I can laugh at what funny status my friend Kathryn posted this time and don’t get me started on Caroline’s hilarious pictures and cartoons. Not to mention, I love seeing photos of everyone’s kids and vacations. It makes you seem closer. I miss you, guys.
The other day I posted a little blurb on Newt Gingrich. It pictured Newt (not a bad shot either) and then under it read, “Family Values- Using daughters from your first wife to convince everyone that your second wife is lying about your third wife”. I know, funny, right? I was looking at it as the photo equivalent of a political cartoon. It makes an observation. It expresses a point of view. To me being able to express one’s self is a classic hallmark of American society. I can post this about a presidential candidate and still sleep soundly at night knowing that I won’t be hauled off by the secret police in the wee hours of the morning. Neither will my family. That’s an amazing, wonderful thing about this country.
Two of my Facebook friends got into a commenting match with each other. You’ve all seen them. It happens. I’ve entered the fray a few times myself on things that struck me. Frankly, I like when this happens. It is always nice to see people stretch their brains. I mean, that’s what they are there for, brains, that is, to be used. Naturally, as today we live in a society of polarizing forces, my friends came at the topic from widely divergent points of view.
Though I know they publicly posted using their real names, and even photos, and so aren’t ashamed of their opinions, they are not YOUR Facebook friends. Ergo, to protect the innocent, let’s give them aliases. One friend came from a very liberal slant, similar to myself. Let’s call her, Libby the Liberal. The other friend came from a more conservative, republican point of view. We’ll name her, Connie the Conservative. Okay, everyone still with me? Excellent. Let’s get down to brass tacks.
Connie commented on my post that we had previously had an adulterous president but that he had still been supported. To which Libby replied this was true but that Clinton hadn’t run on a platform including protecting “traditional marriage” or “family values”. Libby went on to say that you could be a real lying, cheating S.O.B. yet still be qualified to be president. Her language was more colorful that what I’ve used here. Connie came back to that with a post agreeing Clinton had been elected “without a stand on values” and wasn’t it nice to have a civil conversation. I’m pretty sure that last bit was sarcasm, what do you think? Libby came back with several posts that apologized for any offense her salty talk might have caused and proceeded to eloquently outline some of her frustrations with the conservative wing of our political parties and her perception of the hypocrisies therein. I’m paraphrasing, of course.
Which brings us mostly current to today’s blog post. I say “mostly”, I’ll explain in a bit. There’s a status update.
Here’s the thing. I find Libby and Connie to be amazingly representative of the divide that exists in this country. Quite frankly, it’s a situation doing great harm to our nation.
Much of America is divided into two primary groups. When I Googled the definitions for Conservative and Liberal, this is what I got.
Adjective: Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in politics or religion.
Noun: A person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in politics.
Synonyms: traditional, orthodox, unchanging, stable, inflexible
Adjective: Open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.
Noun: A person of liberal views.
Synonyms: generous, bounteous, lavish, bountiful, free
To be fair I should mention initially the only synonym I could find for “conservative” was Tory. I had to search again to find the ones that I used. And before anyone starts shouting about my liberal bias let me just say: 1.) You bet your ass I’m biased, and so are you. Everyone is. 2.) I rejected many really ugly synonyms. You don’t believe me? Just Google the word yourself.
Back to our friends Connie & Libby and how they are symptomatic of America today.
These two women have an enormous amount in common, and not just that they are both friends with me. For starters I would wager both of these women would describe family as one of their top priorities. Both of them are happily married. Both are devoted mothers- good mothers. Both are extremely articulate and intelligent. Both have what I would call successful careers. Funny factoid, I met both of these women through my former life in Stampin’ Up! (before you ask, yes, I am still a demonstrator, it’s not my top focus these days). Connie led a business builders Yahoo site for about twelve of us all trying to take our teams to the next level. It helped me. At one point I was the #23 Demonstrator of the Year. Girlfriend Connie knows her stuff. Libby was a mutual friend of a college friend and I met her as one of my customers. So, they’re both crafty and artistic. Told you they were a lot alike. Both are educated. Libby has her PhD. I don’t know Connie’s level of education but based on her intelligence and writing ability I’d say she has some college if not an actual four-year degree. Oh yeah, one more thing, both love their country deeply.
The differences? Well, those are small, yet profound. Libby is an atheist. While Connie is a devout Christian. I’m guessing Born Again or Evangelical, but we’ve never formally discussed it. (This is based on her FB posts.) Clearly, Libby is a democrat and Connie is a republican. One is for gay marriage, the other against. One believes abortion should be safe and legal, the other does not. One believes in a smaller government and the other believes in a smaller government.
Whoa, those of you paying attention just blinked and scratched your head. Gold star for you- that was not a type-o! Yep, turns out conservatives and liberals BOTH want smaller government. We just want it in different ways. We also want control, but over different things. Finally, we both trust people to be able to make their own decisions, but again, you guessed it, on different topics.
For example, conservatives would like smaller government in regards to funding of government programs and regulation of businesses and corporations. They would especially like lower taxes on businesses. They reason, correctly, many government programs are bloated and in need of an overhaul and audit. Trimmer programs would mean less expense which would lead in turn to lower taxes. They also reason that less regulation would allow businesses to innovate. This combined with lower taxes would allow companies to expand, thus creating jobs. They believe that people could do a better job deciding how to spend their tax dollars than the federal government does. Many government programs, they reason, are full of lazy free loaders who are taking advantage of the system. Private charities and churches should be trusted with many of the needs of the deserving poor. Conservatives argue that we should trust in the haves to take care of the have-nots. We should trust in businesses to make decisions that would build the economy and increase jobs. I am over simplifying, but hey, this is just a blog post.
Okay, so far, so good. I get the reasoning. I really do.
On the other side of the aisle are the liberals. They too, would like smaller government. They would like government out of their uteruses, out of their bedrooms and out of their homes. Sexual practices like oral and anal sex are no one’s business but the consenting adults involved. They believe people can do a better job deciding how to make love to their partner in life and, more importantly, who to choose as that partner. They believe people can do a better job deciding how to spend the days of their lives than the lawmakers can. It is not the government’s job to regulate a person’s morality based on one section of the population’s opinion. Liberals want government out of the church business, too. If you read the Framers’ writings, it’s pretty clear. Those guys were a radical bunch. They were serious about the whole separation of church and state. So are liberals. No prayer in schools, no creationism (or Intelligent Design) in science classrooms (I’ve got my eye on you, Kansas City School Board) and no Ten Commandments in front of courthouses. (That last one is mostly because I live in fear of #10. I always wanted a pony and it specifically says not to covet your neighbor’s donkey. They’re pretty close.) Again, I am over simplifying but it’s still just a blog post. Albeit, one of my longer ones.
Conservatives say we should trust businesses, the “job-creators”, to do what is best for the economy. Liberals know that businesses don’t work for the betterment of America, they work for profit and profit will always win. Conservatives say we should cut funding of public programs. Yes, there is bloat and waste and even free loaders but liberals still believe that government does have a role to play in the assistance of citizens who have fallen on hard times. Liberals do not trust the haves to care for the have-nots. I don’t know, blame it on education, we’ve learned too much history.
I am deliberately leaving off the whole Newt debacle. If he becomes the nominee, my blog will be all too easy. It’s written: the family values, the hypocrisy, the affairs (plural), the leaving of the wives (please note plural, again), the 84 ethics violation charges and more, so much more. You want him as your nominee? Go ahead, I double dog dare you.
So here we are, at an impasse. Two sides of a coin and never the twain shall meet. Is there a way clear?
Of course there is, there always is. The biggest thing is to keep talking. Things get rough, don’t yell, take a deep breath. Then try again. As I outlined above Libby and Connie have a lot in common. Actually they have more in common than they do apart. So do Liberals and Conservatives. Obviously, we are unified by three main things: our distrust in government to make the big decisions, our love of this country and our shared humanity and belief in the basic goodness of people. Hey, look, that’s actually four things!
You keep talking. Maybe we can’t change Washington overnight but we can get to know and value one another. Start at the local level. Maybe you begin humbly, voter registration, get more people involved in the process. Or maybe efforts to welcome home and reacclimate returning veterans. We all want to see them valued for their sacrifice and return to happy, fulfilling lives. Maybe there’s something environmental, I value clean air and water for my children. I figure Evangelicals have to value the earth if they believe that God created and touched everything in it. How can they then simply trash His work?
Most of all, we forgive and move forward. We keep looking for points of common ground. We keep looking for compromise, for opportunities to do real good. Liberals and conservatives may not see the world the same way but we have a country to run, children to raise and a tomorrow to see to. We don’t have the luxury of being petty or small.
I promised you a Facebook status. Libby is still my friend but Connie “de-friended” me although I had no part in the dialogue. I am sad to see her go but still, there’s a conversation to be had, children to raise and a tomorrow to see to.
You fear change, Connie? You fear the different? The unknown? Honey, life is change. Life is the unknown. Go out and try to tell the tide to stop if you like, but get out of my way. I have work to do. The world moves on and thinking you can keep things “the way they used to be” has never and will never happen.
For the giggle factor I just had to include the info I found regarding sodomy laws- priceless… hmmm, a bit sad. Let me explain, folks, most “sodomy laws” actually include, amongst other things, provisions outlawing oral sex. Not oral sex, say, in public, oral sex at all. And before you cosmopolitan types get too smug and say, “Sure in North Carolina, Indiana, Georgia, but not here”. ( No offense to those states, although hey, you do still have the laws.) You might be surprised, fourteen states have yet to turn over existing sodomy laws. And then are the stupid laws that are just a waste of government time and energy. What if I said in Virginia you can’t have sex during the daytime, with a light on, or with socks on? In Florida, the only legal sexual position is the missionary position (I couldn’t find out if woman on top is allowed, but I have my suspicions). In Arizona it is illegal to have more than two dildos in a home. Drat, there go the Pleasure Parties. In California it is illegal for animals to mate within 1500 feet of a tavern, place of worship or a school. Hmm, I’m pretty sure no one told the squirrels. In Pennsylvania it is illegal to have over sixteen women live in a house together because that constitutes a brothel. However, up to one hundred twenty men can live together, without breaking the law. Thank The Flying Spaghetti Monster for 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas. We’re slowly, state by state, undoing these ridiculous laws.