Saturday, September 24, 2005

I no longer understand many of my friends.

Years ago, I was involved in a fundamentalist Christian community. The friends I made there, I considered life-long friends. We loved Jesus, we loved God, and we loved each other. Years would come and go, but our friendships were rock solid. Though many of us scattered throughout the country, we maintained our friendships. Some of us stayed in the fundamentalist movement, but many of us returned to having regular lives, jobs and families. Most of us found out that the ‘rain falls on the just and the unjust’. I can think of few of us who did not have some dream broken since our days together. We have been through divorce and untimely deaths and job losses and most everything that life brings to each and every one of us. As the years went on, I think most of us would agree, we became “older, but wiser”.

What I didn’t expect is that our friendships would be broken by this Administration. Throughout our time in the Christian community, it was a given that we ‘all’ voted Republican. As my first husband used to say, “God is a Republican!” I voted Republican for years. Abortion was wrong, so a Christian was obligated to vote Republican! Besides, the United States was founded on Christian principals and Republicans told us they were the party of Christians. And Republicans, after all, had Lincoln. And so on and so on.

I confess, however, that I couldn’t quite figure out why (besides the abortion issue) the Democrats were so ‘evil’ that we had to pray against them. After all, Democrats embraced civil rights and I was a big believer in civil rights. Democrats believed in equality for women and I believed in equality for women. Democrats believed in protecting the environment and so did I. Still, since the Republican Party was the ‘Party of God’ then Republicans must be embracing all that stuff, too. And I could not forget that abortion was murder and I was not a baby murderer, so I must vote the Party of God.

I moved to Bloomington and had the good fortune to have Republican Jim Ramstad to vote for. How wonderful that I could vote for him. After all, he did care about the environment and he did respect women’s rights and I believed that he did care about civil rights. There was only one small problem with voting for him—he believed in a women’s right to an abortion. But, hey, he was a Republican—so God would show him someday.

Years came and went. Life came and went. My friends were a constant. I remarried. And I married a Democrat. Not to worry—I could show him the light. Yet I was the one who did the changing. Not because I was ‘corrupted’ but because my spouse insisted that I quit being lazy, that I spent time researching issues and voting records and that I quit relying on ‘word-of-mouth’ voting. My spouse began pointing out to me that what I thought I was voting for was not what I was getting. Why was I voting for people who claimed to be godly, but who were doing decidedly ungodly things? Why were these people I was voting for trying to roll back civil rights? Why was I voting for people who did not believe there should be equal pay for equal work? Why was I voting for people who were concerned with their rights—at the expense of other people’s rights? Why were the privileged so determined to not give others the same chances that they had had?

Then came the election of 2000. There were problems with how the voting was conducted in Florida. Not a problem, I thought. Of course, all Americans will insist all the votes be counted. Of course, we all believe in free and fair elections. Of course, there will be a recount and whoever is the winner will be president. Free and fair elections: that is what America is all about.

How wrong I was. All of America was not all about free and fair elections. That is when I saw the truly ugly side of the Republican Party. I was stunned to see how Republicans began spewing out crazy statements like it would be a 'Constitutional Crisis' to have to wait for a recount. Say WHAT? A Constitutional Crisis is when you don’t have a free and fair election!

It was after the Supreme Court gave the election to Bush that I began to seriously study the issues and educate myself on George W. Bush, Karl Rove and the key players in this newly 'elected' administration. I was appalled at what I was finding out about them. And I became appalled at what I saw them doing on a daily basis. Gutting of the EPA. Gutting of the National Park system. Gutting programs that would help poorer people become more self-sufficient. Taking us into a war that they won’t fight, but that they insist our children fight. Debasing the heroes of our day like Coleen Rowly and elevating the basest. And all the while talking about the wonders of “Compassionate Conservatism”. And the lies, and the lies, and the lies, and the lies.

But, of course, there was always 2004. Well, we know how 2004 went. We have the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer. We have more foreigners who “hate our freedom”. We have more sons and daughters killed for a war in Iraq that never should have been fought. And we have a country divided. And we have the lies and we have the lies and we have the lies.

And now I try to talk to my friends. I try to tell them this president is not the person they think they elected. I try to give them facts. I try to tell them that they are not the kind of people who would elect this man if they would just look at the facts. But they tell me that they are not interested. In fact, they are offended that I would try to talk to them about my 'opinions'. They have their own opinions, thank you very much. If I want to remain friends with them, I should not talk to them about such things. They have a right to their opinions and I need to respect that.

But I scream—what about the lies and the lies and the lies and the lies? Don’t you care about the lies and the lies and the lies and the lies? Please tell me you care about the lies and the lies and the lies and the lies!

But I am not allowed to talk to them about the lies. And that is why I no longer understand my friends. Bush lies and people die and they seem okay with that. I speak facts and figures and truths to them—and they no longer want to hear from me. It hurts me. It hurts my country. And I do believe it hurts God.


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