Out of sadness and an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness (is that even a word? It is now.), I don’t talk politics often. I’m tired of the bullshit cop-out “If you don’t like it here, leave the U.S.” or the claims that I’m not patriotic because I’m not celebrating the behavior of our president. Last I checked, the reason our nation existed at all was because a few guys started challenging authority over in England. Questioning the authority of the government has been an American trademark since the beginning of this nation. But now, more than ever, those who do so are belittled and condemned. It’s come to the point, though, where my anger has led to exhaustion and hopelessness about the situation. Which is morally cowardly of me, I admit. Perhaps that’s what “the other side” wants– all of us to just wither in exhaustion.
Congrats, it worked for me. I quietly shake my head, occasionally crying some silent tears over the state of our nation. But I’m not a fighter. I’m a wuss. But my beliefs, I continue to hold, challenging them as I find new information– asking if my beliefs are crackpot thoughts of ignorance, or if I have a foundation to back them up. So far, most of my beliefs have stayed strong. A few have changed. A few are up in the air.
Through all of the weariness, I take some comfort in the words of those who walked before me…
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it. – Edward R. Murrow
When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and the purity of its heart. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. – Theodore Roosevelt
A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine. – Thomas Jefferson
What makes me saddest of all, however, are the friendships- both online and off – that I have lost because my beliefs are liberal. Yes, I’m pro-choice, pro-equality for homosexual marriage, pro-evolution, and anti-theocratic influence in our laws. I don’t care how anyone lives their lives– if they have different morals that require strict religious observance… no problem. Just don’t dictate that I have to follow them through laws that not only make no sense to me since I don’t follow their beliefs, but are a detriment to my already law abiding, tax paying, full-time job holding lifestyle.
Hell, two diarists online, who I enjoyed reading for two to three years and shared so many things with, snubbed those who didn’t agree with their conservative attitudes, myself included, under a guise of not wanting to write online anymore, although they both still were and are. Despite sharing some very, very personal things with these people, they just snubbed people and moved on. Perhaps it shouldn’t bother me, because on the surface, these were just internet friendships at this point. But given that I *thought* there was a respect and understanding to agree to disagree on some points, I just felt lied to, betrayed, and quite frankly, snubbed in a “you’re not welcome in our clique” sort of way. It’s probably stupid, but it hurt. And I often think of them fondly with thoughts of what could have been, and what seemed to happen (since I got no explanations from them). I mourn the loss. I miss their comments. I miss feeling like I have the right to comment on their entries (which I still read from time to time– the internet gives me that small comfort).
It all makes me sad. I have conservative relatives. I have conservative friends. I disagree with them. Sometimes strongly. But when the disagreement on politics is very strong, then it’s clear that politics simply is one of those topics we need to avoid discussing, or it will make us upset. That’s cool with me. It’s just like religion– sometimes, it’s just better to leave it alone.
So after all of that verbage, I come to what actually inspired me to write this entry this morning. I came across this link somehow in my morning coffee-sippage time. I found myself nodding, smiling, and honestly surprised at how well it sums up both my experiences and my opinion on the world at large right now. Only I admit that I just am too much of a coward to actually do anything about it, save post the link and story here. I’m not this intelligent. I could not write this. But it rings nearly 100% true.
This piece was written by Mark Morford for SFGate.com (the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle). The original posting of it is here.
I get this a lot: Hey Mark, you nefarious and perverted liberal commie tofu-hugging sex-drunk San Francisco medical experiment gone wrong from the land of fruits and nuts (or some iteration thereof — so cute, my hate mail can be), hey, I notice you love to ridicule those creepy Christian megachurches and you enjoy spanking wide-eyed Mormons and tweaking the litigious nipples of the cult of Scientology and you recoil at toxic Bush policy like a vegetarian recoils at undercooked veal.
And I can tell you think Dick Cheney is pretty much the devil in a defibrillator and that America is so desperately on the wrong track it might as well be North Korea, and you clearly tend to wince in savage karmic pain when looking down the rusty barrel of a welfare-happy red state and I just have one slightly nasty and pointed and cliched question for you — Here it is: Where is your supposed progressive openness? Your liberal generosity of spirit? I thought you Lefties were all mushy and passive and live-and-let-live?
In other words, where is that famous so-called tolerance I thought all you wimpy libs were supposed to possess like some sort of gentle polyamorous smiling hug for the world?
To which I reply: You cannot be serious. Does the answer really need to be articulated? Is it not painfully obvious? Can I have a shot of Patrón and a long nap before I answer? Here goes …
You, hate-mailers from the sanctimonious Right and even some of you morally paralyzed middle-grounders from the Left, are correct. I am, in fact, deeply intolerant. It is true. I can hide my deep biases and predispositions no longer.
I cannot, for example, tolerate the dark and violent road down which this nation seems intent on careering like an Escalade on meth. I cannot tolerate brutal, never-ending unnecessary wars and I cannot allow gay rights to be bashed and I truly loathe watching women’s rights be slammed back to 1952. Or 1852.
I really have little patience for the gutting of our school system and the decimation of science and mysticism and the human mind for the sake of a handful of militant Christian zealots who truly believe the Second Coming will be arriving really soon but hopefully not before the next episode of HBO’s “Cathouse: The Series,” which they watch in secret with the lights off while clutching a Bible in one hand and a big tub of Country Crock margarine in the other.
I cannot tolerate an American president, ostensibly meant to be one of the most articulate and intellectually sophisticated leaders on the planet, mumbling his semicoherent support of the embarrassing non-theory of “Intelligent Design,” to the detriment of about 300 years of confirmed science and 10 million years of common sense to the point where America’s armies of dumbed-down Ritalin-drunk children look at him and sigh and secretly wish they could have a future devoid of such imbecilic thought but who realize, deep down, they are merely another doomed and fraught generation who will face an increasingly steep uphill battle, who will actually have to fight for fact and intellectual growth and spiritual progress against a rising tide of ignorance and religious hegemony and sanitized revisionist textbooks that insult their understanding and sucker punch their sexuality and bleed their minds dry.
I have surpassed my allowable limit for how much environmental devastation I can willingly swallow or how many billion-dollar tax subsidies our cowardly CEO president gives his cronies in Big Energy while doing nothing to ease our gluttony for foreign oil, all the while trying to tell us how many undereducated misguided American teenage soldiers we have to sacrifice at the bloody altar of oil and empire before we can call ourselves king of the bone pile again.
But I am perhaps most intolerant, not of Christians per se, not of faith, certainly not of radiant self-defined spirituality, not even of organized religion — though I do fully believe more independent spirits and raw human souls and moist sexual licks have been lost to its often narrow-minded and cosmically rigid brainwashing techniques than have ever been saved. But hey, that’s just me.
I am most intolerant of, well, of those who allow such intolerance. Of those who would, based on their narrow views of sex, God, love, hope, war, the mind, the Earth, soil and animals and air and water and fire and love and spirit and drugs and guns and dildos, work to legislate those neoconservative beliefs, codify them, make them the law of the land, force their regressive beliefs on everyone else under punishment of violence and beatings and prison. I am, in short, intolerant of intolerance.
Oh, let us be clear. I love diversity, religious pluralism, peace and love and pacifism and good drugs and open-mouthed sensuality. I’m happy to let you believe in any god you like and marry any gender you like and let you love how you will and be in full control of your sex and your body and your mind.
This, to me, is the America worth fighting for. These are the laws I support. Don’t believe in abortion? Don’t understand gay people? Sexuality makes you rashy? Think Harry Potter teaches kids evil and witchcraft? Don’t marry a sexy gay witch abortionist. But don’t you dare, based on your limited understanding of God and life, make laws declaring that I can’t.
But maybe this is the problem, especially here in San Francisco, the World Headquarters of Tolerance, where liberals tend to be so PC and open- minded they merely sigh and shrug when our government and half the nation move to outlaw everything they stand for, when those people openly loathe human rights and try to codify homophobia in the U.S. Constitution and slowly annihilate Roe vs. Wade and treat any display of resistance or questioning of the norm the way a dog treats a fire hydrant.
Enough. Basta. Let’s refashion the old, stagnant definition of tolerance and make it less about merely enduring, merely putting up with the existence of other narrow-minded beliefs no matter how devastating and embarrassing they obviously are to the nation’s health.
Rather, let’s flip that sucker over and baste it with raw goat butter and sear it on the open flames of divine justice and bliss and intellectual fire and white-hot orgasm and burn it new.
Let us take the rather flaccid word tolerance and pump it full of Ecstasy and medical marijuana and sake and real divine love and fancy book learnin’, turn it on its head and spin it like a bottle and reclaim it from the neocon Right and turn it into, say, giddy outrage. Or radical reconsideration. Or ecstatic rebellion. Or wet conscious electric pointed awareness. Is this not a better way?
Let us explode those dead meanings, correct the mistaken neocon dictionary. Let us hurl that dying and mealy and abused term back at their powerful and often bigoted scowl. Here is your weak, ineffectual tolerance. We cannot swallow it anymore. In fact, we are choking on it.