Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Which path2 I was pondering a bit today.

You've all been warned.

As I was reading various news items, and reading those that some of my Facebook friends posted, I was thinking about how I have gravitated towards like-minded individuals and how my political philosophy has changed over the years. I also have friends, as well as family, whose leanings are diametrically opposed to mine, and that's a good thing. Keeps me on my toes. Although I tend to be drawn to those who share my opinions (who isn't?), I do appreciate those people who are able to enjoy my writing without agreeing with the things I say. I can think of one person in particular who I had to stop reading (and then defriend on Facebook) because the writing just wasn't enjoyable anymore. Endless conspiracy theories, multiple Glenn Beck videos, and calling anyone who didn't believe the way they did deluded and stupid. I'll be the first to admit that I can be a mouthy little thing, and I'm sure I've called the sanity and/or intelligence of certain people into question here (not to mention any names, Sarah Palin), but I try not to be too shrill about it. I guess that was what finally made me stop reading the person I mentioned...it just got so damned shrill.

But I digress. I was thinking about being drawn to like-minded people, and since I'm friends on Facebook with a few people from high school, it made me think about getting from there to here. I'm not close to people from high school, and although my 30th reunion is coming up this year, I have no desire to go (I haven't been to one yet). There are a handful of people that I know I would enjoy seeing, and those are people that I know have the same feelings as I do about things. There are others that I suspect haven't strayed far from our small town, conservative, religious upbringing. I was friends for a while with a guy from high school, and noticed that his profile said "Republican." He apparently didn't care much for the things I posted, because he defriended me eventually. I wasn't hurt by this...I always thought he was kind of an asshole, which he proved by posting a shirtless picture of himself--I KNOW! Ewww!--and I actually found it funny.

I don't interact much with any of them on Facebook, and I don't know if they read this blog. The one person that I do often hear from and get comments from is even farther to the left than I am, and has friended a few of my friends! He wrote to me a while back and said that he was happy to see that someone felt similar to the way he does about things. It made me wonder about how and why we think the way we do, how and why we took the path that we did, when so many stuck with the familiar, the usual, the ingrained.

Which path I'm sure that most of you know that Indiana is a very conservative state, in pretty much every way. It's different in the larger cities and the college towns, and for some reason, my own city and county leans to the left. But overall, it was a very typical Midwestern upbringing, religious and conservative. Early on, I had a liberal bent (much to my Dad's chagrin), and although I went through a more conservative period a while back, my liberal side came roaring back with a vengeance. I wonder why it is, despite being raised in a very conservative household and among conservative relatives, in a conservative state, that I went left when so many of my classmates went right?

Was it a matter of going off to college and being exposed to new ideas there? (Although even in high school, I was feeling leftist yearnings. haha) Was it moving away after college and being in a new environment, or after that, living in Indianapolis and encountering even more diversity? Was it being more curious than the average bear, being an avid reader, loving to visit different cities, being a fan of punk rock, being contrary...? What? Was it having a Dad who, although conservative and religious, spent his youth in the Army during WWII and was apparently a bit of a wild child himself? One of my favorite phrases in college (and I suppose it still is) was "Question Authority." I'm not some kind of violent protester or behind-the-scenes subversive, but I'm definitely the type who doesn't like being told that I have to do something, and when I hear that, I ask, "Why?" I want an explanation, and being told “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” just doesn’t cut it for me.

I really am puzzled by this. I haven't figured it out yet, either. For all intents and purposes, I should be far to the right of where I am, and should even be a very different person from who I am. I'm happy with who I am...but I really do wonder how I got here.


  1. I identify with this so, so, so well Beth. And I tend to believe I was born this way. I bought into the conservative, uber-religious stuff for a while because it was all I knew and I was young. But it was never really for me. And I was so uncomfortable in my own skin then.

  2. This was a very interesting entry. I have no idea why you grew a bit away from the standard "norm" of your family and environment, but it proves a point I've always tried to make. People are people, and we shouldn't make assumptions based on geographical location or anything else. A lady I used to work with once asked me if the "black community" thought Thomas had betrayed them? I said that I had no idea what any black "community" thought and didn't care; that Thomas IS who he IS because of his own character as well as his family history and environment -- those were things that shaped him; he has never in his life been the type of person to act in a way that wasn't natural to him. We had this conversation because after she met him she observed to me that he didn't "talk" or "act" black (and what she meant was that he didn't talk or act the way the urban blacks she knew talked or acted). He didn't fit into the only "type" she knew. I grew up in a conservative, Republican county, and I'd say the majority of my relatives back home are still conservative, Republican, and mostly Methodist. But my family was different as far as religion and conservative views went. I was not raised being told or shown that I had to be any "one" way (although my father and paternal grandmother WERE Republican). I really find it timely that FB plays a big part of this post because just last night I was checking out the profile of a hich school acquaintance. I saw his name on another high school friend's list and thought I'd just see what his profile said. I never had much to do with him in school and didn't care a lot for him, but you know how you get curious to see how people look after 26 years and what they've been up to. And on his profile next to "politics" he had put "white". White?? I have a feeling -- please correct me if you think I'm wide of the mark here -- that he and I *wouldn't* see eye to eye on very many things. Needless to say, I won't be sending him a friend request.

  3. And, by the way, I appreciate your blog posts so much, even when I don't totally agree with you. lol We have enough in common to make visiting your blog feel like calling on a friend. I am pretty conservative in many ways, but I am further left of center than right. And you know that I believe in and worship a Creator. That is a very important part of who I am and how I live, but I am that way because of what I personally have found to be true, and not because it's PC or fits what someone else thinks I should believe. And thanks for not being "shrill" in your opinions when someone doesn't agree with you. That's just completely a turn-off when a blogger does that.

  4. I think that a core of who we are is constant, but that the left/right line moves around a bit. Of course, lately, the fiscally conservative - socially liberal philosophy has definetly shifted. What used to be centrist from a fiscal perspective is now considered liberal, leaving no home for left leaning Republicans.

    I do believe that moving around causes us to change our perspectives, and when we end up back in the rural midwest, we do not relate to a lot of the old school views.

  5. I agree with Ken in the respect to our never moving far off of our core. So to me, whatever 'leanings' you have inheirit in your Dad proved to be stronger than your environmental influences.

    For instance, I would never consider myself liberal. Partly because I never felt comfortable 'in the crowd' with all the other brother & sisters who voted democrat. Also, because I think my Mother insisted that I find out what I could about both sides of the issue. Which is why you can occasionally catch me watching EWTN or Fox News on the tele... if you don't know what you are against, how do you know what you are for?

    I admit to having placed a chip or two in the conspiracy theory tray... hinted at that in my post today. But even with that, I like to think that I offer that there is validity not based on Glen Beck diagrams, but because what we all know of human society and its networks.

    Been a million years since I was in Indianapolis. And I would add that the movement and exposure to other places and thinking does go a long way to shape how we see 'home' when we get back to it. You can't see or think about the world the same way when you go out and come back.

  6. i used to want to be a nun. . . .no, seriously.

    i think for me the ideals of safety and security that i associated with the convent helped perpetuate that thought in my head.

    i think the more we learn about the world, the more we learn to think for ourselves and find our own voice. not just book learning mind you, but common sense learning and experiences built on a diverse array of people, places and events.

    questioning the status quo allows for individual growth, regardless whether the answers lead us to agree with the quorum or not.


  7. College and travel overseas did it for me. America becomes a very fascinating place to watch from the other side of the pond, and I recommend everyone find a nice spot beyond the borders in which to sit and get an honest appraisal of their homeland. It can be eye-opening.

  8. There has been some research that indicates our liberal or conservative leanings are detectable in brain imaging studies and might be relatively stable from birth. I tend to agree with Ken, though, that the external definition varies and wanders, and we must adapt our leanings to current definitions. I tend to think that, if my mother had been purple, I'd have had no choice but chartreuse; I simply had to begin my adolescent self-definition as Not Her. While it is a challenge to force myself to peer into the opposite position, I understand it's good for my brain and it usually serves to validate my original choices.

  9. When I was in college, I identified myself as a Republican - as did my family and many of my friends.

    But for me, when I came out of the closet, I also "came out" as a liberal. In fact, I think my Dad was WAY more disappointed when he found out I voted for Bill Clinton that he was when I told him I was gay.


  10. Such an interesting post, the question of how we became who we are is sort of an endless loop. I feel that my core is fairly stable, but pieces have been added and removed over the years that have shaped who I am.

    I also wanted to be a nun at one point in my life. Imagine the odds of having two of your friends who considered life in a nunnery. I was attracted by the idea of a life of contemplation. I think that my Catholic school education contributed greatly to who I am. My core beliefs lie in the notion of fairness and responsibility. I struggle with how much traditional religious belief that I have, but the one piece that I took to heart from the sisters was the belief that we are our brothers and sisters keepers.For me, that has meant that we share in a collective responsibility to work towards the common good.It seems that makes me a liberal, but I think of it as the very basis of any belief in a higher power, from Muslim to Christian, love thy neighbor as thyself. The wording may be slightly different but the ideal echoes in every religious belief. My rejection of organized religion stems from my frustration with the hypocrisy of so many who identify themselves as religious but fail to adhere to what I consider to be the most basic premise--responsibility to humankind.

  11. A very fine read! You speak for many people on the subjects at hand.

    I'm very much like you on thinking, only I had no choice but to take my opinions down several notches. (For the sake of my health and safety of my family!)

    Illegal wiretaps and police harassment. Trust me, it's no conspiracy! I have witnesses and solid proof. All I did was speak the truth peacefully and express my feeling to friends and family on the phone.

    I played songs by Neil Young, The Beastie Boys, and other people who opposed Bush. Again, it was the town and it's people's thinking.

    In the years of Bush most of the country supported him or was too afraid to speak. At Least in Illinois, but I was younger and actually thought we lived in a free country. IL. was supposed to be liberal but I saw more W stickers?

    I did have democratic bumper stickers and "Green" slogans on my car. I kept plenty of spare tires around. I felt like Ren in "Footloose" I wanted play my music! I wanted to dance! LOL

    I wanted to find like minded people to talk to. Others who questioned authority, had a brain, a working heart. When I did they wanted to complain rather than help. What could we do? "God Bless America!" Someone got arrested for wearing a Peace shirt in a mall.

    I researched and tried to remain free thinking. It didn't stop my efforts to encourage others to find truth in other outlets.

    Not just Cable television news!

    What a radical! LOL

    I attended lectures, town hall meetings. Robert Kennedy and then Senator Obama.

    Obama allowed me to ask questions and then took the time to answer. Again, I was around like minded people.

    I know what you mean about moving town to town, community thinking can vary significantly. Sometimes I'd only move hours away, the new town was pure conservative. The neighboring town democratic and so on.

    I started out a Democrat and still lean more that way in elections. I vote with my heart, other times with my brain. I really claim no party, but oppose conservative logic. I vote with the brain for most people don't vote with a compassionate heart.

    For example: a few years back Illinois had to decide between Blago and a conservative woman. She opposed almost everything I believed in. Then there was Blago, the world knows who he is.

    I wanted Whitney, a man who was similar to me. Deeply concerned about the environment.

    The media said it was close, so I chose Blago. Still, I wish I'd voted for the man I my heart wanted. With that said I don't chose a party, for there are people who could do better than the same old choices.

    I know that many people hide behind a party and then do everything like the other side.(Lieberman)A Wolf in sheep's clothing. There have been countless others in the history of America.

    Until the political system improves or we get majority of good hearted politicians in Washington there will a division between the parties. A weaponless civil war in America and its people.

    Also, I agree with you about old friends on Face Book and in real life.There are many reasons why we make new ones and have few old ones. It would be nice to catch up on the old days, but even better to make new memories.

    If they decide not to like you for who you are now, then it's their loss.

    I didn't go to college to think like I do. Hell, I had to drop out and receive a GED. Because I had to work early on in life, if I didn't I'd starve.

    I ventured this country in my youth, with long hair. Now that's a way to discover America, even more so down South. LOL

    I've always been a good hearted person with wonderful manners,but people see only the shell. That is the same story today, people deny others human decency because of circumstance or lifestyle.

    I feel the world could be better if we opened our hearts and minds more than the eyes.

    Thanks for the good read! I wish you a wonderful day and even better week.

    Loren Wesley Ackerman

  12. You didn't drink the Kool-Aid.

  13. You're more open-minded than I am. If someone in my life suddenly begins to profess conservative ideals or anti-choice sentiments or Palin-esque behavior I cut them out completely and never talk to them ever again. That side started the divisiveness and I'm just following suit.

  14. Beth, your posr has generated a lot of comments, some better than others. I became a liberal during the first Eisenhower/Stevenson campaigns. I was way too young to vote but I was old enough to see the difference between intelligent statesmanship and pedantry. I've never voted for a Republican in my life and probably won't. I listen and read as many sides of the issues as I can. I perceive the Republican party as pointed in the right direction but walking bckwards. One has to live among the results of the government's indifference to the suffering of people to realize how harmful conservative ideas are. I was defriended by a few folks with whom I shared a lot of good things simply because I am a liberal. On the other hand I have conservative friends. I would not defriend them for thier beliefs. And thereby stands the difference.


  15. you don't have to go to college to run from the Republicans. Just get pregnant early, work full time all your life at a service job, marry someone just like you, struggle, get one foot in the door, have your foot slammed IN the door and never seem to get ahead but still keep on keepin' on and you'll know Republicans have NO clue what it is like to live in the REAL world.
    i am so glad we think alike. I want to bitch slap half my FB daily, ESPECIALLY family!

  16. I think most people are very invested in the approval of others so they tend to adopt the belief systems they grow up with unquestioningly. Agreement feels like love, especially in the conservative midwest and south, where often there is less demonstrativeness and "what the neighbors think" can determine what a lot of people do.I think you have an innate contrary streak, and a good education. You learned to question things via science, and then question things period. Notice how people go farther left with more education? Glenn Beck probably has 3 viewers with more than a Masters. You're too smart to be on the right.

  17. I know my latent liberalism/feminism came roaring out when Pharmacist for life wanted to be able to refuse to fill birth control pill perscrptions....Pat Cheeseman

  18. I am still amazed that you call this funky frum your friend (o_0) And as much as I would love to add you on as a friend (if you wish) I think my fb page would drive you to drink :)
    Hugs, Laini

  19. That was a soul exposing post Beth. :) Glad you chose to be among like minded friends, but don't shut out those who are different, unless they give you cause to. I try to do much the same.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?