Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Attending arguments--or keeping silent

I saw something on Facebook today that said, "You don't have to attend every argument you're invited to." Good advice, and yet I find myself increasingly drawn into arguments on Facebook. It's no secret my political sympathies are definitely left so it's no surprise that I am outraged by some of the posts from the conservative side and I want to share some from the liberal side. I try to be judicious about the posts I share--checking the sources, etc. I'm willing to be contradicted, but by hard facts not opinions.
Not surprisingly, I irritate a lot of people who hold different views. Some are polite, a few verge on being rude and unpleasant. I try to maintain calm, avoid shrillness, and restrain some thoughts that come to mind.
But I decided that if you firmly believe in a way of life, a philosophy if you will, it's your responsibility to speak up. I believe the fall elections are critical. This country cannot survive another stalemate in Washington and another obstructionist conservative Congress, nor am I one bit happy about the Republican control of the state I call home. We may have great jobs numbers, but we rank poorly in health care for the underinsured (the ACA would help), education, and other vital human services areas. We're great on outlawing abortion but we don't provide for those babies when they're born. And our record on women's rights is not good. I see so many reasons that the Democratic candidates are more to my taste--more compassionate, more concerned about the welfare of all people, willing to work to level the wealth, health, and education inequalities in this country.
I would willingly work for Democratic candidates (no, I don't like them all and, yes, I realize there are dishonest, selfish people are both sides of the aisle) but I can't physically walk the block, and my one attempt at being part of a phone bank (for Bill White's gubernatorial campaign) was a disaster at least to me. I give what I can but like all of us, I am besieged by everybody from the local party up to the top national office. I cannot honor every request--plus the three universities that want to claim my loyalty.
So being forthright on Facebook is my way of fighting for what I believe. On the other hand that means I'm not only attending every argument, I'm starting some. I was raised, like all female children of the fifties, not to argue, but I don't think it's right not to stand up for what you believe, to listen quietly without objection to distortion and lies.
I have a good friend who is an activist on Facebook for many causes, from liberal politics to LGBT to issues to women's issues, but she also posts about her grandchildren, her animals, her fabulous garden. "I want people to know that I'm a regular person, not just an activist," she explained to me once. Words I've never forgotten.
It may be extreme to say in this day when President Obama has been compared to Hitler, but I see parallels to pre-WWII Germany. The German people didn't speak up as Nazism took over their country. I can't let ultra-right, conservative (sometimes Tea Party) thinking quietly take over my America. Sure, I'm probably on some lists, and I laughed when Vice President Cheney thanked me for supporting him and invited me to a big Washington dinner. Wrong list, Dick.
If you don't want to read my posts or you want to defriend or hide me, I understand. I hope you understand that I feel strongly about free speech, and sometimes I hope what they say about advertising is true--repetition works. And I'll keep posting about Jacob, Sophie, mysteries and all the various aspects of my life and opinions. I hope there's a lot more to me than strongly held political opinions.

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