I’m a fairly secular liberal. I’m not nonreligious; I simply prefer to keep my spirituality entirely separate from my political opinions and decisions. Similarly, it has never been difficult for me to separate my estimation of a person from my judgment of his or her values. Opinions are about perspective; they’re constructed based on upbringings, circumstances and life experiences, all of which vary widely on an individual basis. In other words, I’ve always understood that there’s no accounting for taste, even when it comes to things that are, to me, nonnegotiable.
It’s a lot easier, however, to be tolerant of your peers’ views when you are 14, 15 or 16. At that age you’re powerless. Your opinions are like Monopoly money: important in context, but totally unable to effect change.
It’s a lot easier to love a person in spite of his or her sometimes very awful opinions when those opinions can’t do any harm.
I’m older now, and I’m paying attention to the adults who hold the power that we’re still too young to have.
Recently, I’ve been genuinely taken aback by how much I’ve seen that power used in ways that are prideful, self-serving and unkind. It should have been clear to me that the hateful words of a child become the hateful actions of an adult, but it’s difficult to watch all the same.
The government shutdown breaks my heart. With every passing day, I am overwhelmed at the ways in which the spending freeze has turned the lives of countless Americans upside down, and at the callousness of those who could help, but refuse to do so. Not only are many families temporarily without income, but clinical trial patients are without treatment, veterans will soon be without benefits and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu vaccination program has been put on hold just as flu season begins, leaving children and the elderly especially vulnerable.
The people who are holding the nation’s funds hostage, regardless of the millions of lives that depend on those funds, are the very people whom I could once separate from their politics and love without question. I am trying very hard, but I don’t know that I can say that I feel the same anymore. In fact, simply trying not to hate them is proving astoundingly difficult.
There’s no uplifting end to this message. I don’t think there’s a silver lining to anything that’s going on in Congress right now, and I think that we, as a nation, are proving to be every bit as petty, selfish and small-minded as the rest of the world believes us to be. But as I lose faith in the government, the administration and what little I had left invested in the House Republicans, what makes me the saddest is that I’m losing the part of myself that was once too full of love to be made cynical. I’m trying not to hate you, but right now, it’s just too hard.