My son is an atheist.
At first I thought that it was a phase, and perhaps it is--a phase that has lasted at least five years now. I am wincing, too, since he truly hates when I post stuff about him, but I can't write this without relating that. His political leanings are closer to Republican, but more toward what he considers a purer intent than he's seen represented by today's Republican Party. He is certainly not a Democrat (insert a sniff here for authenticity); He doesn't believe that the Democratic Party fully represents his ideologies either. He's registered as an Independant, and today he is to cast his first vote for Barack Obama. (I think--and hey? *chuckle* It was that course in AP Government!!! That, and he turned 18...seriously--they wrote a song about that. *angelic smile*)
He confided that he might change his mind, and vote for anybody else but the two. I think he resents what he considers the deification of Obama during the past few months. I tend to agree with him about that. I suspect that Senator Obama is a mortal man, and I question the sanity of both candidates--any candidate, actually?
Only crazy people would want the job for which they are compete. <--Insert a weak, blushing smilie here.
But I had to mention my son's non-religious leanings to explain a conversation I had with a friend on All Saint's Day. (I'm still all about the irony, huh?) A former crony of this crone-witch, she was calling to finish the conversation we'd begun on Samhain (Halloween) when she'd phoned me with a "blessed be".
Before I would even entertain the conversation, I told her (as I tell most everyone who phones me now) I wasn't discussing politics until after the election.
I guess she guessed, because what resulted was a diatribe of vile-spam-induced rhetoric. And I'd love to say I kept my cool, but that wasn't the case. She told me Barack was a Muslim "plant". I informed her that McCain himself dismissed that notion. Hadn't she read the newspaper, watched the news? Then she said she'd just like to see Obama's birth certificate. I glumly replied that at this point I'd just like to see my own. (wrinkling my nose--that's a long story, folks. Um, theft, storms, a flood in vital records after my marriage...shrug.)
But we managed to chillily "chill' on the politics.
But as we caught up with each other's news ("how's the kids, etc?" <--safe topic, right? NO) because with all of these subjects combined, I found myself telling her that my son, now a student a UNO, had once considered joining the ROTC during High School. He walked out, however, when he found that he could not recite the pledge of allegience, because he refused to gloss over the words, "one nation, under God". My son, the pragmatic atheist, decided that this pledge did not include him. So he walked out, as the instructor (?) recruiter (?) dude (?) yelled out promises of "Come back! We get Free Pizza on Fridays!"
(That's when I knew my son was actually exercizing the courage of his conviction.)
So I told that story to my friend, and rapidly, one of the most enduring friendships of my life called my son out on patriotic loyalty. (huh? He was trying to apply for the ROTC!) I'm still not sure if she was calling my parenting ability into question as well when she retorted,
"I would have slapped the [expletive] out of my own son,"
And you all know me fairly well, so you know I didn't let that go...
"Is that would Jesus would do?" (I'm abbreviating the conversation--since we discussed scripture, and I had mentioned what I thought was an example of Jesus distancing himself from the politicians with "Render unto Ceasar...)
It got pretty ugly after that. She called me a damned fool (actually, I'm paraphrasing) if I was going to vote for a Marxist. I told her I'll be forever grateful for this election, since it made so many folks break out their civics books, put current maps on their walls, and at least study a little bit of history. I started to say something about the "petit bourgeouis" but she thought I was calling her a bad name.
She was pretty angry.
She said she hoped McCain would be elected and bomb the expletive out of the Middle East.
"But we're talking about The HOLY Land..." and no, I wasn't joking. She didn't say she was a Christian now, but she said that Barack Obama was the anti-christ.
Um. If we're reading Revelations as a literal prophecy, why all the objection to the anti-christ? I mean, even with all of the pain involved, doesn't the appearance of the anti-christ precede the advent of The Second Coming?
I tried to change the subject.
I talked about how beautifully my daughter had blossomed--a one year veteran of the same ROTC my son had disregarded, and a ten year member of the American Legion.
Then I had to explain that too--my daughter was simply enrolled in The American Legion as a "gift" from a great-aunt who just assumed that my daughter would be appreciative of that. In fact, it has caused a family rift because my daughter refused to write a thank you note for the gift. ("She should have asked me..." and I kind of agreed.)
So I simply say nothing about it....to the aforementioned aunt, anyhow.
* * *
The general consensus is that I am going to burn in hell. I've been being called "n-lover" again, even though I haven't been particularly vocal about politics. But when they asked me? I answered.
* * *
I'm tired, and it's been a long, painful political campaign. Racism, the card nobody wants to play, is a blank-face joker, here where I live.
I told this story privately, but I'll tell it here now. Once upon a time, we used to have to drive down Highway 23 a ways to see the "Don't let the sun set on..." well, ya'll can figure that one out. I was taken aback though, when I saw, in my own neighborhood, graffitti on Barack Obama signs--"We should have picked our own cotton."
Now ya'll know me, so when some of my daughter's friends came by, I asked them about the experience of being "black." I told them I understood misunderstanding and prejudice, because of my religious inclinations, but I didn't understand what it was like to have that bias felt on "sight."
They told me for the most part they thought it was funny that people were frightened of their skin, but admitted that it could be uncomfortable at times--that it was an exchange of "fear."
I asked them if they'd seen the signs lately. And oh my...this one kid? I just love him--he's so damned smart and he has this shy but confident grace that exudes a gentle power. I asked him what he thought about those signs that said the bit about "picking our own cotton."
He didn't reply right away, but cleaned his glasses and put them back on, and said,
"I think I agree. They should have picked their own cotton."
I love that kid. (bouncing smilie)
* * *
I felt bad about that conversation later. Like him? I'm tired of having to explain myself. I'm extremely weary and wary of being put on the defense, and having my responses taken as "offensive". I do not understand what is so inexplicable about being a peace advocate--dreaming of better days with new solutions to old problems, and praying, in my own way, that my children and their friends have a voice in their own future.
I have hope, that after the election, that instead of fences being mended, we'll forget that fences existed, along with whatever grievances made us believe that they were necessary.
I also hope that this will be my last political post in the alley.
Being a pundit to the pundits wasn't on my dreamlist of what I wanted to be when I grow up.
* * *
Peace precedes serenity...
even in the dictionary!
* * *