Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Response to Freespeaker

I wanted to respond to the friend who replied to yesterday's outburst, but apparently I am not allowed to use over 4,096 words in a reply. So, here is the complete reply to Freespeaker who was hurt by my outburst.

Dear Freespeaker,

I would love to know who you are in real life so I could respond personally to your concerns. But, I will respond here instead.

Yes, there are two sides. In this particular environment, there is the side of hate, xenophobia and greed, of disdain for the poor, gays, women and the social safety net we have in place. Then there is the side of compassion, of inclusion, of shared success, of equal opportunity for all. I choose, in my life and in this election the side of collaboration. I choose in my life the side of fact based arguments. I choose in my life the side of education. I choose in my life the side of COMPASSION AND TRUTH.

And while I choose all these, I cannot make others come to the table willing to speak with love and compassion. I can't negotiate with people who don't have the understanding that their fervent belief in something doesn't actually make it fact; there's science for that.

My truth is this: I am no longer willing to let myself be used or abused in order that other people may say, "I have gay friends." Bottom line, one doesn't get to BE my friend if one is not driven by compassion for all people, all the time. I will not allow myself to be constantly referred to as a friend by someone who votes against my civil rights as a human being. Friends don't encourage or allow their friends to be bullied into suicide. Friends don't allow their friends to be spoken of derogatorily or as the butt of a joke. No. True friends go to the mat to protect. True friends stand up to bullies. True friends defend with their dying breath their friend's value and worth.

I am honored to be called "friend" by a very diverse population of people: some of them Republican. These people are fighting the pretend Republicans every day to get their party back: the party of Ike, the party of Lincoln. The Republicans I embrace as friends are heartbroken at the treatment of minorities (all of us: women, gays, the disability community, people of color, etc) by the present leadership. My Republican friends are furious at the behavior of the House and Senate members who made it their primary goal to keep Obama as a one term President and so block every idea, even when it started out as their own. My Republican friends wouldn't "like" a chair lynched to represent lynching the President. My Republican friends wouldn't "like" the candidates who are so disconnected from reality that they think a raped woman can't get pregnant. My Republican friends wouldn't "like" a candidate who repeatedly lied and switched positions on issues EXCEPT marriage equality and gays having children. My Republican friends want to keep religion out of government. MY REPUBLICAN friends believe in the republic of the UNITED states. And so do I.

You might wonder what makes my Republican friends different than me. Well a lot, actually. I believe big government can be a source for good. They would like less regulation in business. (They do believe in SOME regulation however.) My GOP friends think we need better defense spending,(not me!) but they don't think we should sacrifice the health and education of all our citizens to pay for unneeded weapon systems that were outdated decades or centuries ago...there are a lot of differences.

However, while we disagree on a bunch of issues, we never disagree on human rights, or that free speech ends where hate speech begins, or that we need a safety net for the elderly or poor or disabled; nor do we disagree on fact based arguments starting with Science and making sure the separation of church and state is itself sacred. In short, we believe in the same AMERICAN values that brought us this far and were only sent wildly careening off the edge of a cliff when a group of 9 people stole an election and then that President's Vice President started running the country for big oil and the companies who make money off war. And then, 8 years later, a black man had the temerity to run for President. That is when this country started its sharp dive into the fanaticism and hate of the TeaParty and the religious right trying to make a theocracy out of our Republic.

The America I grew up in, was aspirational. We sucked at equal rights, but we knew they were the right direction. We sucked at equality for women, but we knew that it was the right thing to do. We knew prayer was fine where ever you wanted to do it, but you couldn't push it on others, especially at school or the office. We had bad music, and riots and Vietnam and Grenada and a guy with Alzheimer's in the White House. But we also believed in helping a stranger up from the sidewalk. We believed in picking up trash off the side of the road. We believed in inviting the "huddled masses yearning to be free" to come to America. We believed in providing a good education to every child in our country. We believed in taking care of our elderly with Medicare and our most desperately ill through Medicaid. We believed a lot of things that made our country one of the best experiments in democracy ever attempted in world history.

I want THAT America back. I want that compassion back. I want that ASPIRATION, NOT the selfish, ideological, exclusionary social Darwinism the TeaParty and so called Christians are espousing to be the driver of our policy.

So, yeah. If, when describing the Tea Party or the right wing Christian Theocrats, I have included your ideology and mindset then .. I don't need friends like that. I need people who will work together with me to make this country the best of our imagination, not the worst of our fears.

1 comment:


    and thanks This American Life for doing your best on this.