Wow. Here you are, just thinking you’ll pop on over to friendly MSH to see what that crazy ZamFam is up to and you get a giant political smack in the face! Well, before you get all riled up, please read the next two paragraphs. Sit down, relax and let me tell you a little story from when I was a kid. (No politics, I promise!) And then decide if you want to read the rest. . . .
I grew up living in an unincorporated neighborhood on a gravel road. We were an eclectic bunch of folks living in an odd assortment of houses that included one that was meant to be underground, but was built above ground due to permit problems; a couple of Swiss-style chalets; a multi-level house built in a sort of circular style; a house whose front looked like a giant glass pinwheel; a Tudor mansion; and an old Girl Scout camp lodge. Our house was my parents' dream home, a plan they got in a magazine with soaring cathedral ceilings, spectacular hillside views and finished with salvaged items.
In an era before such groups were common, we had a neighborhood association that was responsible primarily for contracting for services to grade and add gravel to the road in the summer and plow in the winter. My dad would come home with spectacular stories about the “fireworks” at these meetings. Get a group of eccentric folks together with their equally eccentric ideas, toss in some hot-heads and watch the fun ensue. One of the hottest was a red-headed, red-faced German named Martin. He was formidable – big, loud, intimidating, prone to swearing while clenching his smelly European cigarettes in his teeth. And that was before he got to these meetings. Apparently he was quite passionate about various issues that came up and wasn't afraid to let everyone within a ten mile radius know what he thought. Then, on cold, January mornings, he would be at the top of our hill, waiting to drive the neighborhood kids to school, all gruff smiles and German-accented pleasantries. I remember asking my dad about this, how you could be at such loggerheads with someone one moment and still be friendly with them later. I knew my dad had deep moral convictions about how to treat people, so I wasn't asking so much how my dad did it, but what about blustery Martin? Martin himself had explained to my dad that Europeans were different from Americans in many ways, but one notable way was that Europeans were perfectly willing to fight about ideas to the death, but when the arguing was over, it was time to shake hands and head out for a beer -- the old “let's disagree agreeably” that is so easy to say, but so hard to do.
I write this rather long introduction partly because it was fun for me to remember our old neighborhood and its interesting inhabitants, but to also illustrate how I hope that friends, family and acquaintances who read this blog and also know me in real life will take what I post today. First this will be the only post this year about politics unless something totally bizarre happens like McCain or Obama turning French. Let me say that I am a “rah-rah” American, probably one of the more patriotic people you’ll ever meet. I am unabashedly proud to be American and think that the United States is the greatest nation ever to grace the face of the planet. Please don’t write to tell me about all the ways America has screwed up or how much we suck. I know that America is not perfect, has screwed up and sometimes even sucks. I’m just saying that other countries are even less perfect, screw up more and are suckier – take France for instance. . . . Just as a crazy aside: I actually like the new French president Sarkozy, so maybe I’ll move to France if this election doesn’t turn out how I want.
And I know it is not polite to discuss politics or religion, but since I already talk about my faith, I guess one political post won’t kill anyone. This is not a blog about politics, work or rants, but it is MY blog, so I reserve the right to write about what I want and occasionally that will be on some of these topics. I write because it is cathartic for me and it helps me solidify and order my thoughts. I have gotten into many discussions about politics this year, even though I avoid them like I might avoid a stranger in a dark alley, and I have walked away feeling frustrated that I wasn’t better able to articulate what I believe. Depending on how happy I am with this post when I’m done, I think I might carry around little cards with my blog address and if people ask me what I think, I’ll just smile, say nothing and hand them my blog address card!
I also know there are several people who know me in the real world who are going to differ with me. I already know you disagree with me (even if you don’t know I disagree with you!) and I like you anyway! I hope we can all be grownups and celebrate the fact that we live in America where we can dissent and not end up in jail or friendship purgatory. Let’s do like the Europeans and disagree like crazy and then all go out for beer together afterward and chum it up. With us it will have to be figurative beer since I only like British ale on tap and not really that much. How about coffee? Whiskey?
And if you want to argue with me in cyberworld, that’s fine too. You can even comment and tell me about it. Let’s just not call names or be reduced to slinging insults (that’s reserved for the French). Frankly, I don’t intend to have a long drawn out discussion about this. This is my manifesto and you’re not going to change my mind. It’s not that I am not open minded. I was. I have researched this situation, formed an opinion and now my mind is closed. You won’t dissuade me from my position. My job as “information bounty hunter” has served me well because my mind is geared toward gathering and synthesizing information. I have gathered, synthesized, ordered, formulated and to use an Olympic metaphor – here is my “stuck landing.”
So now this post is crazy long and I haven't even written about what I actually believe! So I will post my “Why I Am NOT Voting For Obama PART TWO” with the actual “meat” of what I wanted to say in a separate post. You have been warned. Read at your own risk. See, that wasn't so bad, now was it? How about that coffee?
(Part II is written and will auto-post tomorrow . . . stayed tuned . . . then back to regular programming!)