Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A little sip of my my own medicine

I read a quote last night that really struck me. It was, “You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes” (from the Spanish/Jewish philosopher Maimonides). And I thought, "That's the problem with with this administration. THEY aren't open to truths outside their accepted sources. THEY don't listen." And I felt pretty pleased with myself and my own expansive openness. I even thought, "I might blog about that." So you know I'm getting shot down.

Well, today Thing 2 (one of my 14 year old twins) says, out of nowhere, "Mom, Mary is turning me into a republican." I snapped tartly back, "Oh no she's NOT!" Another friend was in the room at the time, and her parents are republicans. So I restrained myself and simply added, "I'll talk to you about why later." Now, I'm not (usually) an idiot, and I know the best way to create a focus for rebellion is to absolutely forbid something. But I am the deepest, dyed (pinko) in the wool, knee jerk, bleeding heart Democrat. My grandmother worked on the campaigns of F.D.R., Harry Truman, J.F.K., and L.B.J. Through her, I met John Kennedy in the oval office. I'll never forget him stopping in front of me and bending way, way down to shake my hand. I still have the dress I wore that day (forest green, peter pan collar, sash with a big bow in the back). Moreover, I truly believe that, right now, the Democrats are our country's best, maybe only, hope for a sane international and domestic policy. So you can see that if my daughter wanted to find one perfect way to rebel, it would be by becoming a Republican.

Later on, I was telling my husband about it, and I thought about what Maimonides said. And I remembered that there was that one Republican president.... Abraham Lincoln.... who had some pretty important truths he was working for. I do believe that if we are committed to hearing the truth, then we must be open to any source it might come from. Further, I really believe that the only way we can combat the climate of destructive partisan rancor that exists now, is by not accepting it or expressing it ourselves. And I was ashamed of myself.

But I'm still not going to let my daughter become a Republican.


mumbliss said...

Hey Elizabeth,
I once told one of my dearest friends, who is a kind, loving, deeply caring and politically Republican person, that I would rather have my son come to me with the news that he was gay than that he was Rebublican. I am not sure what in the world I was thinking. I even thought she might think it was a funny joke. However it began,in my little silly brain, it revealed itself to be utterly stupid and hurtful. Her response, after being hurt by someone she had trusted to love her without garbage, me, was quiet and stunned, but honest. Something like, ...paraphrase, paraphrase, I could never figure out why you were like that. You are so open in other ways, but so closed about politics. I was mortified that I had hurt her. I was mortified that I was caught with my pants down. I was even more mortified that I was so ugly in my lack of understanding. I was sad and sick about it for several weeks, but it did make me do some serious evaluating. I had thought that I was the big guy because I could say, "some of my best friends are Republicans", but I'm just a big dope. Oh well. I remember that moment almost as clearly as I do the day Kennedy was shot, or the twin towers began to burn. My own personal stupidity. My own small universe. I cried bitterly, I grovelled, I apologized. She forgave me, but I burn with the lesson. I guess everyone does have a right to their opinion, bummmer. Yes, I am my own mummy's girl. I am a voting democrat. I am determined to fight my disillusionment and cynicism. I cling to the Democratic flag till my knuckles turn white, but my grip is slipping. Thank goodness for thing one and thing 2 and for thing three and thing four and thing five and thing six. They keep us grounded inthe real world. And thank goodness for dear friends who forgive our demented behavior. Love to you and to your beautiful family. Thank you for your words and for reaching into my little computer. XXXOOO

Doralong said...

I have nightmares that one day I'll wake up and one of my kids will turn into Alex P. Keaton..

Not likely, but still it wakes me in a cold sweat.

mumbliss said...

Elizabeth, Now I am worried that I have offended some other wonderful person with my backwardness. I am not safe with public discourse. I should know better.
I can explain.....Being gay in my neck of the Massachusetts woods is so much a part of our unified fabric that it doesn't make much of a bump or a pucker, except for the worries about safety.
Also,one of my son's Cambridge friends became ardently Republican at age fourteen, in order to torture his parents. He had all the arguments and passion. He is eligible to vote this year. He is very tall, and still an adorable and wonderful person, but I wonder if he still needs to torture his parents. I will have to find out. I have to go to work. How do you have time for this? Love again, OOOXXX

Elizabeth said...

mumbliss: "I burn with the lesson." You are so good to carry the weight and truth of that lesson with you. It's a tough one. Maybe the toughest one. When I think about "holy" people through the ages - Jesus, Buddha, the prophets, saints and boddhisatvas - I think that this one thing is what made them so extraordinary; this ability to see that beneath each shell of human difference is a heart striving for truth. And to hear that truth.

I love that you come into my life through this odd machine and that we can keep up our long conversation. xoxo E

Elizabeth said...

Doralong: I know! How much does it suck that we can't completely control their choices?

Elizabeth said...

Mumbliss: Not to worry, dear. No one, reading that comment, would think you were judging anything negatively. Quite the opposite.

My great joke (on me) is that when Thing 1 and Thing 2 were growing up, they were so butch that ALL my lesbian friends were saying, essentially, 'Just to give you a heads up, the twins are looking like they might one day join Dykes on Bikes.' And I spent much of their childhood happily waiting to join PFLAG. And now they're completely femme and dating boys, and I'm seriously dismayed. It's taking some adjustment on my part.

Also, the way I find time to do this? I stay up WAY too late.

more cowbell said...

Speaking of staying up way too late ... crap.

Anyway, the Bohemian once said, offhandedly, "Being gay would be a non-issue for my mom; but she'd probably freak if any of us turned out to be Republicans."

As mumbliss so wisely pointed out, there's probably a lesson in that. Yes. Well, hey, I'm not perfect. It is what it is.