A Year of Morning Thanks
Yesterday, early in the morning in the gym, out of simple curiosity, I asked a number of my ex-colleagues (retired profs) whether they ever discussed politics. One of them said they did talk politics, and on their morning walk that day all four of them were in mourning.
The answer was a sufficient explanation of their views. Obama has been gaining in the polls--hence, the sadness.
Honestly, I wasn't asking for a fight. I was just wondering whether these guys--all good friends of mine at one time--ever disagreed about things during this intemperate political season.
Nope. They were all in mourning.
They waited for me to sign on the dotted line with them, and I didn't. And immediately, one of them pointed a crooked, Clinton-like finger at me, and yelled, "You're supporting a murderer."
At just past six in the morning, I'm in no mood to fight, and besides I'm not a fighter anyway; but the incident felt like a searing reprimand from a man I've always considered a friend. Righteous indignation can feel a whole lot like self-righteous repression.
I live in a corner of the state where religion and Republicanism go hand-in-hand. I can't imagine that the sprawling Obama political machine thinks much at all about securing any votes here. The cultural consensus is with my retired colleague: a vote for Obama is a vote for a murderer.
Minority voices are not tolerated; they're even, as I was, relegated to hell.
Republicans rightly observe that the media spends far more time harassing Sarah Palen than they do Joe Biden, despite his profligate gaffs. Conservatives correctly assess that many, many media stars are undoubtedly Democratic in their leanings. Last night, Chris Matthews asked Bill Maher to talk about the election; I turned Hardball off.
I understand why McCain supporters feel persecuted and picked on, even though I don't share their political views. But I live in a place where the thought police wear the uniform of the other side and bully the opposition just as brutally--and maybe even more because here it's done in the name of the Lord, which puts an eternal spin on the accusations.
What I wonder is, why does it have to be this way? Why do people have shout each other down? Why does hate have to run so deep and wide just beneath the surface of political discourse, even--and maybe even especially--among professing Christians? Is freedom to choose a candidate, to take a side, to have a contrary idea, a good thing or is it evil?
I'm sixty years old, but there are things I still don't understand.
But this morning, it's important for me to say that repression is awful, no matter who's behind it. And it's important for me to say, too, that I'm thankful for freedom.