Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Political Beasts

I tend not to get particularly political here, though there's no such thing as a hard-and-fast rule in my world. It's not that I don't have political opinions. I do. Oh, do I ever. It's just that I hate talking politics. I'm sure it's tied into my almost-obscene fear of confrontation, but it's also more than that.

I've never quite found a comfortable way to handle the whole "what do you do if someone you really respect has an opinion you really, really don't respect" thing. I'm not talking about the mundane: I couldn't care less, really, if someone disagrees with me on the advisability of a certain tax cut, or on some new SEC regulation, or whatever. And so I don't mind debating that. But there are things that I really, really, really care about. Things that, if push came to shove, would make me think less of a person for not taking a particular stance. And so I don't really want to know. And so I try to steer clear.

This ostrich stance would work well if it weren't for the fact that I'm married to a man who lives, breathes, eats, drinks and dreams politics. And who simply loves him a good political debate. But here's where this thing gets even more confusing. See, he and I are more or less in synch on political viewpoints in general, and completely in synch on the make-or-break issues, or what I consider to be make-or break issues. But. The man is so maddeningly polemical, that I find myself simply itching to disagree with him. I spend a disgusting amount of my time arguing points of view that I find abhorrent, simply to get him to maybe acknowledge that there is some grey in the world. It rarely works, but I can't just let it go.

And so it was that I found myself, this morning, in the midst of a "debate" that was threatening to spiral into an argument in which I was going to be essentially saying "Aw, c'mon, it's just a little murder, torture and humiliation. Why are you making such a big deal out of it?"

At which point, of course, i would have spontaneously combusted, leaving only a small puddle of coconut milk where once had stood a woman of what-she-thought-were strong convictions.

Instead, I sputtered and stammered and finally said, "Oh, you're making me crazy again!" and walked off. Which is really the only way to end these conversations.

But it makes me wonder how people who really and truly do differ that radically from their spouses or close friends or children--whoever--in terms of political and social issues deal. I often hear people talking about how important it is to be open-minded, and to hear lots of different opinions, and to be accepting. But i don't know. There are issues that are really important to me. Take gay rights, for instance. I don't have issues with people who don't feel as strongly as I do about this, who for instance don't boycott the Boy Scouts based on their gay-related policies. I don't even have huge issues with people who question whether there should be gay marriage. I mean, I think they're wrong. I think they're very wrong. And if you're one of them, I think you're wrong. But I wouldn't--or don't--have a problem being your friend. Similarly, if you think abortion is a Bad Thing, I'm happy to hear you out.

But tell me that you think gays are an abomination, a biological error, whatever, and that there should be legislation--nay, constitutional amendments--that essentially codify those feelings, and you've irrevocably lost me. Tell me that you think you should have the right to make choices for me and my body on the matter of abortion, and it'll be hard for me not to show my utter contempt as i walk away. I may be able to understand people who are looking out for their own self interests, but I can't...CAN NOT...understand people who hate, or people who go out of their way to insert themselves into somebody else's life or business...or their body.

So when I get an inkling that someone I like or care about or have to deal with regularly is about to step on one of my very sore spots, I run away. Sometimes physically. Sometimes metaphorically. That's my modus operandi anyway in difficult situations. (No ex-boyfriends hanging around me; no siree. If you're outta here, I'm outta here too.) And it's usually successful: It's been almost two years now since Em told me that our next-door neighbor had said to her something on the order of "God didn't make man to be gay; He didn't make it so one man should love another." Since then, I've simply avoided that issue and all issues even vaguely related to it. I know she's a creationist, but that's an intellectual exercise; it just makes me think she's not too bright when it comes to that sort of logical thinking. But as long as she and I don't have the 'gay' conversation, I can pretend and assume that Em was exaggerating or misquoting. (For the record, in case the quote was accurate, I did give Em a very long and heartfelt lecture on how I don't believe that at all, and that I think that it's very sad that there are indeed people who do feel that way--and worse. Of course, then I had to literally grab her by the scruff of her neck as she started to run back to the neighbor's house, yelling, "Mrs. V, Mrs. V! It's OK to be gay!")

There are probably better strategies, but it's the one that works for me. What do you do?

free hit counter