I consider myself a Christian. I really do. In the past few years I’ve had a lot of struggle with the whole idea of “church” and, to a lesser extent, “the Bible” but when it comes down to the supposed “core tenants” of Christianity - be nice, help people, don’t judge, don’t feel desperately alone - well, what’s not to like?
I’m also, I suppose, a “liberal.” And the way I see it, other than belief in a higher spirit, liberalism and Christianity are remarkably similar. At least along the lines of “help people” and “don’t judge.” I like to think that Jesus was the Original Hippie.
Today was particularly trying for me as a person who has Christian and liberal views. The views weren’t at war with each other, but today I felt that everyone I knew - some Christian, some liberal - was at war with me.
Normally I don’t confront people when they share views vastly different than mine. The more I see of this country during these elections, the more sad I become and the more alone I feel in my views. Not because there aren’t plenty of other like-minded folks…those folks just don’t seem to be around me.
But today, for some reason, I just had enough of it and started trying to fight back.
This morning I got to talking with my roommate about how I did not like the band Candlebox. He said he used to love Candlebox (I shoulda stopped there…) until he found out that their lead singer was gay. This did not set well with me so I tried to engage him in a conversation to find out if he was a homophobe or just stupid. I do not want to live with a homophobe. The conversation rattled and confused him, and I did not come up with a clear answer but I am leaning towards “just stupid.”
Later, I was with my parents and my dad brought up the fact that Connecticut voted for gay marriage rights recently. I said that’s awesome. He started saying stuff about “fagism” and the Bible and how it’s not right. I flew off the handle a bit and put out some good arguments about how Leviticus is very Old News, he technically should not have been allowed to marry a Catholic and straight people aren’t very good at marriage anyway.
I dragged my mom into it, who is generally very meek when it comes to debate, and at least got her to admit that it’s nobody’s damn business who other people are having sex with and she also admitted that “gay” is genetic.
Points for mom, and points to her parents for scarring her in a messy divorce and thus in a cruel way making her more open-minded about marriage. Good riddance…
Then, I returned home to find an email from my aunt (who I call “the poorest, most welfare-ish Republican ever”) which was a forward containing quotes from Obama’s book. The slant of the email was that Barack Obama is So Black Power if you take some of his quotes out of context. And also lack brain cells.
I actually tried to be alarmed at the quotes. I tried to take them in the way the email intended. I couldn’t. All I saw were quotes from a man describing his pride in his father’s heritage, his struggle with teenage rebelliousness, his anger at the way blacks are treated by some whites and his struggle to fit in with other young black people while being “mixed race” himself.
My aunt had forwarded this email to just the people in my family. This is the “really Christian” side of the family. The sometimes nauseatingly Christian side. The side that, I suppose, she felt would best sympathize with the message of the email. Er…and me?
I hit “REPLY ALL” and replied with a calm and well-thought-out message. I asked how she interpreted those quotes and explained how I read them. I asked if she believed that Barack Obama was a racist and if he was trying to harm America. I asked if she sided with the McCain supporters who recently called out to “kill him [Obama]” and that he was a terrorist.
I told her that if she truly felt that way, and/or was going to vote in this election based on the color of a man’s skin, then I was very sorry for her. I asked if she understood the difference between the two candidates’ platforms. I suggested that if she did, she should have intelligent discourse with her friends and neighbors about the differences and who she thinks should be president.
And, since my grandparents will be reading, I pulled out some “Bible shtick” about Pharisees and the way they treated Jesus and asked how that was shameful but this sort of “slander” is not.
I reminded her that everyone in our family is not very far removed from “non-American” heritage. Everyone in our family, even though Christian, was raised with a different set of beliefs - beliefs that have caused wars between Christians.
I told her that passing along emails like this made her look foolish and hateful. I said that it made me very sad that she thinks that everyone in my family would agree with the message the email sent. I said to the whole of the “reply all” group that if they do indeed believe that this sort of garbage was ok, then I have some disdain for them.
And, being that I could not come up with anything more “Bible-y,” I ended with a quote from Yoda. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” (I did not cite Yoda, for fear that my grandparents would discredit me) I told her that I hope she doesn’t suffer for her fears.
Anyway, for all of the anger and sadness that I have been feeling towards my fellow Americans - for the way things have been going lately with regards to the elections, and the things people are saying and views they are expressing - the sadness truly, truly gets to me when I consider that the people I love the most…more than any country or any religion…are such mean, hateful, un-Christianlike buffoons.
My parents only slightly agree with me on some points. Two of my best friends are “staunch Republicans.” At least half of my family is on the “Christian right” and the other half is “urban racist.”
My brother and my business partner are the two people closest to me who share my views across the board. I feel particularly alone. I know I can’t surround myself with people who agree with everything I feel - that would be boring. But I just wish that at least the people who share my BLOOD would not be such a disappointment to me.
How is it that people that grew up in the same family as me be so different? How is it that people who grew up in the same socio/economic environment that I did have opinions so completely different than mine? Why can’t I trust my family to at least be a little more open-minded, a little more logical, and a little less judgemental?
Why do I feel so much sadness and anger about all this? Why do I feel so helpless?
Why the fuck can’t we all just get along?
Man, sorry about the rant. As you may have noticed, I don’t have anyone to rant to because everyone I know knows they’re right.