I used to love to argue about politics and religion despite proverbial wisdom claiming through the ages that such discussions are generally fruitless. I didn't get that viewpoint and chalked it up to proverbial cowardice, not time-saving wisdom.
But as I age, not all that gracefully, I have begun letting go of some of the more harmful illusions. I recognize that young romantic love is often lust wearing a pretty coat.
I understand that political promises are usually more come-ons that factual planning. I've seen fame come and go for performers but also for generals and urban legends. I know nothing except death is a given.
I finally understand that most folks' entire world view, including the aforementioned politics and religion, was formed before they went to grade school. The average conformist view has been shaped by conformist parents, schools and churches. That's how red state folks can support our endless excursions into sovereign lands -- Nicaragua, Vietnam, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, and on and on, while their counterparts in the Middle East support random terrorism and endless car bombing of innocents in the name of a different god or nation. Different churches and leaders but the same principle, we are right and are the chosen people, you all are footnotes to history.
And my own uniqueness?
The qualities that caused one early friend to label me The Rebel Without A Pause, a nice play on the old James Dean movie title, I finally have discovered are every bit as predetermined as those pliable people and their assent to everything they are told.
Those of us who felt somehow let down early by parent, church or school, in other words, our own personal little adult world, instead of conforming, we rebel against everything. It's only in the past few years, as I passed 60, that I realized how little I have deviated from my early and nearly perpetual rebellion.
If the principal, the pastor, the parent, the girlfriend, the foreman or the president told me to do it, then I could not in good conscience obey. Resist without thinking, rather than pro forma obedience was my mantra. I see now that this is seldom any more effective than following orders.
There are a few glorious exceptions. The Dennis Wilkens of Nazi Germany who fled the country or joined the communist party or some foreign-sponsored resistance movement, are the only Germans who share none of the blame in the systematic killing of more than 12 million convicts, gays, alleged defectives and of course Jews.
The Dennis Wilkens of the pre-civil war U.S. who worked on the Underground Railroad freeing African slaves are the only whites not culpable in the 300-year oppression of an entire race of people in an allegedly 'free and democratic' country.
Does it never occur to jingoistic conformist folk of any nation that there is no freedom when anyone, black, gay, female, is enslaved? Evidently it is only the rebels who get it.
Yet and still, except for a few lovely exceptions we who rebel reflexively aren't thinking any clearer than those folks who agree with anything.
My little insight may not be comforting but it has helped me to deepen my view ever so slightly. Maybe if I live another 10 years I'll even approach something you might recognize as tolerance. Who knew?[[In-content Ad]]