Little Tin Gods – Part 1

About a month or so ago during the whole Chick-fil-A kerfuffle I began to see a dearth of posts on Facebook that began like this:

“Just a reminder of who I am and what I believe…”

Only they usually didn’t list any of their beliefs. What followed instead would be a litany of condemnations aimed towards anyone who didn’t agree with their own political stances, usually but not always liberal in nature. (Note: I need to point out that within this post when I refer to liberal or conservative they are meant to convey how those words are defined in the American political arena today.) And then their declaration would be met either by crickets or glad-handed slaps on the backs for being so brave or something.

I had considered for a time doing something similar here on my blog but in the end decided I’d spare all of you from having to read it. In the end I’m not sure that it matters to anyone else what my beliefs are other than myself. They are my own, and if questioned on any of them I would and could explain each and every stance I hold. I did not reach this point lightly, and I hold them tight. A single blog post would not do them justice and would only serve to bore everyone to tears.

The bottom line: I am a Roman Catholic. I believe in the Creed that I profess publically each week at Mass. I do not think them idle or empty words that I say to get along or under any sort of duress. I’ve studied it as a whole and broken it down into single sentences for study. They are engraved upon my very heart. Yes, it’s true that much of what I believe is considered to be in the conservative spectrum of politics. I also hold many views that make my more conservative brethren blanche a little as they are considered liberal. That’s what being a Catholic Christian is all about. Catholic means “universal.” My faith is the spectrum through which I see everything, from the smallest, most mundane things in life to the grand and the epic; from the simple to the complex. It isn’t something I turn off and on when it’s convenient. My faith is not an enormous buffet line that I go through, picking and choosing certain elements or sacraments from the bowls under glass and placing them upon the tray of my life depending upon my mood or my appetite.

I own a degree in Political Science and another in History. At one time my aspiration was to get into politics and then settle into life as a college professor of history. I ate, slept and breathed politics. I saw every statement and every action by someone through a political prism. At that time in my life my prism leaned Democrat and when I first registered to vote in 1988 it was with a “D” after my name. My mom is a Democrat and my dad a Republican. Right away  however in my first election I voted against my new party and for George H.W. Bush. I thought Dukakis a weak pol, and having grown up in the 1980s and my family doing better than worse (and Dukakis was claiming we were worse off) a disconnect formed that I just couldn’t overcome to justify his winning my vote. In 1992 I was back in the D camp and voted for Bill Clinton. I was out in the world and earning a paycheck every week, seeing for the first real time all the deductions that reduced my income. I voted for Clinton because he promised to reduce taxes. Promised. Just a few short months after his election he delivered a speech on television and said, in that cracked, emotional and well-practiced voice inflection that you either loved or hated, and said “I worked long and harder than I ever have at anything before in my life and tried to lower your taxes…but I can’t.” So that promise was done in after a “long” time of a few months in office.

At the end of the week I went to the voter registration office in Omaha and changed the initial after my name from D to R.

I see the blind rage and anger out there today, much of it coming from the Left but not without its share from the Right, too. I see people who look for any and every excuse to hate something or somebody who holds views different than their own. I see celebrities and wanna-be celebrities post the most nasty, vile and hateful things on Twitter or Facebook to the point where I have resolved never to join Twitter and now limit my Facebook time to 10 minutes once per day. I used to get angry at the angry, which is self-defeating and serves no purpose other than to get me to wallow in their misery. But after a friend showed me the faux outrage that erupted after Ann Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention this week my reaction was not one of anger. It was sadness. I feel sad for people who, wrapped in their hatred of anything they don’t agree with, feel the need to spread their misery everywhere and look for grievances where none exist. I replied to my friend’s email conveying my feelings of sadness for them, and added:

I did the angry young-know-it-all-man schtick for a few years. The most counter-productive time of my life. Overuse of irony and sarcasm, and making yourself the center and therefore the de facto god of your own universe. There are no rules so you make mistakes. And since a god cannot possibly have been the one at fault once the consequences of that mistake bear fruit it has to be someone else’s fault. Their “rules” are to blame, not mine. So you begin to justify your mistakes. And thus begins the intellectual dishonesty and mental gymnastics necessary to continue the downward spiral and you compound mistake upon mistake upon mistake, always telling yourself and the world that it’s not your fault. You’re a god, you see.

It was exhausting. There is no freedom there. You’re bound by your own lies. You build your own chains.

A terrible thing to be so blind.

There simply is no “there” there in the ranting and railing against the world. In creating your own grievances where none exist. The world doesn’t care. The world has its own agenda and you, dear rager, are a willing pawn in the world’s plans. You just don’t see it. And you won’t as long as you remain your own tin god: a self-important dictatorial person.

I want to say here that I am not anti-politics or anti-political parties. I am however anti-bumper sticker sloganeering that pits groups of people against one another and results in juvenile games of one-upsmanship. It’s like cotton candy. You get a rush out of the quick put down, cheap shot, or oh-so-superior remark you made. Or even by posting the latest political meme image. But how long does that rush last before you’re empty and hungry again. It’s the political equivalent of empty calories. And how much damage are you doing to yourself and your relationships with others? Do you even care?

I do care, which is why I stopped engaging in this behavior. I stopped because American politics is not my god.

This is scheduled to be a three-part series. Tomorrow I’ll post Part 2 regarding the political parties themselves.

©2012 Jeff A Walker.

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