Thursday, June 30, 2011

This is still my country & I'm fighting for & celebrating it

For the last 10 years or so I feel like I've been fighting a battle to reclaim the heart and soul of my country (one person at a time). In this effort I spend an inordinate amount of time:

  • arguing with bloggers who think that the individual mandate in health insurance reform is unconstitutional. 
  • wrangling with co-workers who think that we should be able to do whatever we wish, even if that means shirking our responsibility to shoulder our own weight (and sometimes a little bit extra if we can) in the social contract we call our society.
  • debating with folks who claim that they don't owe their neighbors anything.
  • and tangling with those who think that the middle class should support public goods and services but exempt corporations and the rich from those same responsibilities.

I'm tired of lecturing people who don't have compassion for their fellow human beings. A lot of good it does. But, you already knew that.

No argument I can drum up, no matter how persuasive, is going to convince my increasingly Libertarian-minded friends and family that they should do anything for anyone else unless they choose to do so at any specific period in time. This apparently leaves out supporting legislation for assistance of any kind because someone else might not want to give in the same way or in the same amount that I do. My question is, "When will your act of benevolence occur, when you're passing the plate during Christmas services?"

This brings me to what has become my biggest fight of all-- maintaining my Christian orientation. Many of the people who thrum the drumbeat of Individual Freedom, State's Rights and Anti-Federalism are Christians. I am one of the few people I know who still labels herself a Christian. Most of my compassionate friends have abandoned Christianity because of that community's move towards conservatism, individualism, anti-multiculturalism, anti-minority, anti-poor and anti-anyone or anything that is not successful. Since when were vulnerabilities considered weaknesses-- or an abandonment by God?

Buddhism is much more appealing to people who think like me, because of the philosophy's concept of Oneness. I was brought up with this concept in my Christian home, but honestly, I am hard pressed to find it articulated in mainstream Christian circles today. I think this is because you can't market it very well with the self-obsessed.

So, what am I to do? I could get "with the program." Honestly-- I get the idea of reaping rewards for belonging to the right (religious/ethnic) group. It's an easy spirit to groove to: tantalizingly simple and self-affirming. It's great being right and therefore chosen and living a life of abundance without guilt. I've had a lot of success in my life so it's easy to correlate the two (success and Christianity, that is).

The truth is that my conscience won't let me do this, which is unfortunate because it would sure be a lot easier if it would. You see, I *know* that in large part I've gotten to where I am because of  our family resources, the color of our skin, and the hearts of my parents and in-laws who have lifted us up with consistent emotional and financial support over so many years. I can't imagine not having a family to bail us out of too many doctor bills or tuition payments (for grad or preschool). I don't know what we would have done as a young family without my parents buying us a mattress, bringing us a chicken, or buying me a dress for graduation.

I know everyone doesn't have the support I do.

So helping others with health insurance, which I consider a necessity-- no, more than that, a fundamental right-- is one of the easier decisions I've made. Plus, I can live with myself. I sleep at night.

So, Happy Independence Day from a Patriot who will keep on fighting.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When Another Woman Inspires Your Partner-- Thinking Through My Response

Rich is home from Portland and in fine spirits. He is up early, singing to himself as he readies himself for work. He kisses me goodbye on the forehead before he darts out of the house and into his truck for the commute to work. He was so unusually kind and attentive last night (as compared to his moody demeanor for the last many months) as we ate dinner and watched my Netflix-movie-picks (he usually hates them, by the way) that I had to ask him about the reason for his change of heart and new bouyant persona.

Given that opening-- and my seemingly innocuous, non-threatening invitation to share-- he felt comfortable enough to tell me that the impetus for his jolly change of heart came from his heart-to-heart with a female, Chinese collaborator, with whom he talked at length for the past week when he was at his annual meeting out-West.

Deep in-take of breath, trying to maintain my composure. Big smile.

I hear that the topic of conversation for this very "Christian" woman and my "Agnostic" husband is--doing the right thing, acting the right way, being the right partner. Apparently, he's been moved by her example (her experience-- she's engaged).

Tell me why I'm not thrilled over this development?...Isn't any vehicle for the dissemination of important news heaven-sent? Why do I feel so suspicious?

I should be thankful. Right?
 
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