During the 1960s, my mother was a closet Liberal, whispering to everyone not to tell her parents that she wasn’t going to vote for Goldwater. In the 70s, she would walk between the color lines proudly in support of school busing, (never minding what a target that made me each day). During the 80s her rebellious lifestyle necessitated that she live at least one foot off the grid, avoiding taxes and politics as best she could, surviving just under the radar. And in the 90s she would go on marches for PETA and abortion rights and environmentalism and the screenwriters’ union. I still have her tattered old hemp-woven grocery bag, some faded cause printed in green on one side.
How is this the same woman who could be found atop a liquor store, during the 1992 Rodney King riots, side by side with an armed shop holder, defending the building against looters? How is this the same person who was a member of the Los Angeles Tennis Club, at the time a welcome mat for old money and elitism? In her lifetime I remember that Elizabeth always seemed to be driving a Jaguar, Lincoln or Cadillac; she had employed immigrant labor for less than minimum wage; was loudly anti-welfare; and thought nothing of wearing designer clothes that included leather with fur trim, no doubt sewn by child slaves. How does all this reconcile within the same human?
You may wonder where this is going. You may think I am going to make a political statement. Well, of course I am – because I believe we are all like Elizabeth. You see, I am fairly convinced that we all have personal desires that conflict with our social idealism. Where we settle along that continuum changes over time because the internal battle never ends. I don’t think it can ever be truly reconciled, but the conflict is real because not a one of us is all good or all evil. We are both and neither.
That we spend so much energy fighting each other on platforms that change, become obsolete, or factually ridiculous frustrates me. We call each other names and labels and put up walls and obstacles to block, rather than to progress. All this energy…and our entire perspectives could be different in five years! Think about it, are you the same political being that you were when you were 15? Or even 25? Hopefully as you assimilate experiences and information you evolve a little, become more complex and less of somebody else’s platform.
Me, I used to be a Republican and then I was a Democrat, followed by Libertarian and Green. Right now, I don’t know what I am. But I do know who I am, and am willing to forgive my own selfishness as long as my overall impact on people around me is a harmonious one. Like you, I try to be a good person and do the right thing. And perhaps like you, there will be times, when in the midst of political turmoil, I will sit it out with a glass of wine and enjoy my neighbors, regardless of how they voted.
Cheers to you Elizabeth.