Thursday, March 23, 2006

Long time...

Yes, it's been forever. I bet no one is looking, and honestly, a big part of me hopes no one does. Because I'm about to out myself, and probably put myself on the black list... or at least that list of people you tolerate but don't really like. That's what happens when your opinions are unpopular--truly unpopular, not Hollywood Elite "unpopular". What I'm about to do is risky. No one will applaud me for how "brave" I'm being. They'll either agree (probably silently, unless they want to take risks too) or disagree, and add me to one or another less than desirable lists.

Usually, I just keep my mouth shut. Don't rock the boat. But honestly, that's not the *real* me.

In person, if you start talking politics and government, or religion, I'm not shy. I am nice, I am polite, but if you say something I believe is wrong, I'm going to tell you so, and tell you why, and then tell you what I think is the alternative, and correct, opinion to hold.

Which leads me to a conversation my husband and I had lately. He told me about a client's opinion on a subject that I have strong opinions on myself. My husband spoke in glowing terms of the wisdom of this guy's ideas. I'm ashamed to say I ripped dh up one side and down the other--and we weren't even discussing what my dh thought! Anyway, we went on to argue over whether or not opinions can be right or wrong... dh says they can't be, they either are or aren't, like feelings.

I disagree, but by that time in the conversation, I was feeling chastened over my treatment of dh, so I didn't pursue it. Opinions, unlike feelings, are ideas, and ideas have power. They may not be able to be true or untrue, in all situations, but they can be good or bad, and often they can be right or wrong. I can hold the opinion all I want that you don't need to breathe to live... but I'd be wrong.

So back to my risk-taking of the day. Since discovering I could make friends online, I've followed the old adage to never discuss politics or religion. A wise course of action. Both subjects tend to inflame passions that the bonds of friendship cannot quench. This may be especially true online, as many of my online pals have never met me in person, and even those who have may not love me so dearly that they wouldn't drop me like a bad habit if they were to discover some truths. What do they have to lose? It's not like we'll meet at the market, or awkwardly be forced to sit beside each other at some community function. If they want to never speak to me again, it would be pretty darn easy to do so.

Additionally, inflection and tone are hard to read. If I write something in email, on a message board, or in IM, or now, on a blog entry or comment, there's really no telling if I'm being kind and gentle or hard as nails. This is a lesson I've learned time and again in my professional life. Unless the words themselves are good and uplifting, try sharing them in person, because if you don't, the negativity seems to be magnified in text. Just another reason to avoid the sticky topics of the day.

Luckily, most of my dearest friends have tended toward the same behavior, skirting the topics that are most likely to divide. Playing it safe with the feelings of others, and maintaining friendships by fostering commonalities and ignoring possible differences, never even knowing if those differences exist.

I'll blame blogs for the change. I tend to go in spurts with my online activity. It's been a bit since I actively read all the blogs I enjoy. I've been back in the saddle, so to speak, for a few weeks, and I'm finding lately that my friends are being risky, with their oh-so-popular opinions. I suspect (though surely I could be mistaken) that since their opinions tend to be the popular ones at the moment, they feel that can't possibly be offending anyone important to them with their words. And honestly, I'm not a thin-skinned individual. I'm not offended so much as annoyed. These are people I love and care about. Yet the words I read are something I can't let go without comment.

I don't want to enter into an argument, so don't expect some sort of point-by-point take down. I'm not doing this to change minds, but rather to inform.

Not everyone thinks like you! No, seriously, not all intelligent, compassionate, "normal" people agree with all the other intelligent, compassionate, "normal" people in the world. I'm pretty sure these wonderful people who are my friends wouldn't call me friend if they didn't believe I was intelligent, compassionate, "normal" and all good things one expects of friends.

I've been living a comfortable lie, telling myself that surely these friends must, deep down, know the truth about me. We don't discuss my differences, because we love each other too much to get into something so... divisive. But the latest comments have shown me my self-deception. I know these people care about me, so let me tell you all that I don't want to hear it. I don't want to read what you think of George W. Bush, the War on Terrorism, the Iraq front of that war, the patriot act or NSA wire-tapping. At least, not if I have to continue keeping my mouth shut to keep you as friends.

I'm a political sometimes-junkie. It's another of those things I do in spurts. I like Fox News, Rush Limbaugh (shock!!!), National Review--I even like John Ashcroft! I especially like George W. Bush. That doesn't mean I agree with every decision he makes, but I believe he is the right man to have in the office of President of the United States. I'm thrilled he was there to take us through 9/11. I'm tickled that his leadership brought down one of many grave threats to our security as a nation; I'm soberly realistic that NSA wiretapping of certain people is one of the best ways to ensure another 9/11 never takes place. I'm determined to see the good and the benefit of changes that have taken place, even as I sneer at expanding government and pandering across the aisle. I could go on and on--but it's more expedient to say that if the mainstream media outlets are touting something, I'm not buying. I could quibble with a million things "this administration" has done, but I think on the big questions, the big issues, the answers have been right.

I expect silent disapproval, a slow, quiet distancing. I bid you a fond farewell, and wish I could have endured in silence.