I never have liked those silly political labels, such as: libertarian, liberal, conservative, person with stupid belief, etc… Ok, I made up that last one! I can say that I started out as a young Republican, though not officially, my extended family was republican and social conservatism was the backbone of their philosophy. I went along with it, because that’s the environment that I grew up in and I believed that everyone grew up that way. Naivety is something most children experience; their life must be the same as everyone else.
Sometime during first grade, the other kids singled me out because I chose to be loyal to my best friend. The popular kids no longer deemed me worthy of being normal. I began to hate normality. I labeled myself as weird and rebelled against normality. Being my own activist, I started to question what I once considered to be normal. I mention all this, because I believe this is where my social conservatism began to crumble and my perspective started to shift. I wasn’t very a fan of adult politics, it was playground politics, where Republican and Democrat are never mentioned.
This was also a small part of the reason that I left Christianity. It’s ironic, because Christianity was helpful in my childhood. It was the example of Jesus Christ that taught me how to endure the bullying for about six long years, until it was over. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have been ok without religion, it was just what I had at the time.
The church I grew up in was what I would label as a socially conservative church. Most church members were Republicans and most thought that gay people chose to live a life that was chastised by orthodox Christians. Some of the congregation would use the line, “love the sinner not the sin,” when speaking about homosexuality. This implied that being gay is a sin, something that I do not agree with. I don’t understand how someone decides who or what they are attracted to.
It was during my high school years when a spark ignited a revolution within my mind. I began to try to pull apart the logic of believing that a person chooses to be gay or strait. It couldn’t withstand my logic test. In my opinion, based on academic study and life experience, is that sexuality is predetermined based on DNA and the brain. Science is beginning to support this conclusion and it looks like we will soon find the “gay gene.”
After many days of struggling over the fact that orthodox Christians believe that homosexuality is “wrong” and heterosexuality is “correct”, I rejected this old belief. I had read Leviticus, where it’s supposed to tell you why being gay is bad, and I felt that the chapter was vague. So, I decided that my upbringing in the social conservative philosophy had a tragic flaw.
I think this was a major catalyst in changing my personal philosophy on life. I began to distance myself from my religion until I finally abandoned it. There were other issues that contributed it, so it wasn’t just that suddenly I didn’t like what social conservatives thought about gay people nor did I blame all of Christianity for it. But, it did contribute to me questioning my church and political influences. Eventually, I became an atheist/agnostic. It can be a bit confusing as they tend to overlap. I suppose it would be simple just to say that I no longer belief in God.
I went from that social conservative child into a non-partisan voter. It reminds me of a time when I was still working for BlockBuster Video many years ago and I had a customer who began to talk politics with me, because I mentioned I liked the actor Tim Robins. She said he was liberal, but I’m not sure about that. She asked what my political afflication was and I said I was more moderate or centrist, she was inclined to tell me that someday I’d be a conservative. I guess she was wrong, at least so far. What really bothered me about that experience was how confident she was that I would someday move to her political philosophy. To me, needed to validate her position so badly that she must believe that I would “come to my senses.”
This is my larger point about politics. I call myself a “progressive” now and even though I don’t call my self liberal, I probably have some liberal views. Heck, who doesn’t support liberty? It’s the same root word. But, this is the problem with labels of any kind. We spend so much time labeling and classifying everything. It’s how our brains remember information, so it’s a good system. However, we forget that people don’t usually fit labels. When I talk about myself, I’m more then a man who is a self-published author, who likes video games, who is unemployed, a student, and votes for the Democrat most of the time. And yet, this is how people usually describe themselves. The housewife who takes care of the kids or the accountant who goes to church on Sundays. That’s just one part of who a person really is.
Seldom are we able to learn about a person, how they feel, what is important to them, what they were like as a child, or what they believe in. Instead, we label them based on little information or snap judgments. Having one view that is supported by liberals, for example, doesn’t make that person a liberal. Just as being a fiscal conservative doesn’t mean that person is a social conservative. Quick judgements of people can get us into trouble or prevent us from having relationships.
My final point is this: What our country needs the most right now is a spirit of compassion for each other, regardless of what their beliefs. We need mutual respect. Sometimes I think politics is too much like a high school popularity contest. This needs to end. There have been Republicans and Democrats who worked together! Where are all the moderate Republicans when you need them?
In this difficult time, we need to come together. We must compromise, not on principle, but to move forward we need to make deals. We can find common ground and give up a little bit of what we want if it means putting this country back on track. As it was once said, united we stand, divided we fall.