Anyway, my youngest son went off to college in August of 2011. This gave me a bit more time for reflection. I thought about my own childhood and young adulthood, my life as a wife and mom. I had also been deeply distressed by my experience of the 2008 presidential campaign, especially by some of the rhetoric employed by the Republican side. Yes, I know that plenty of criticism can be aimed at the Democrats, too. It's just that the Republican side was "my side," so it affected me more deeply when I saw and heard some of the extremism emanating from the conservatives. I was disturbed by divisiveness of the Proposition 8 campaign. I was disturbed by the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, and how the "progressive" and "traditional" Catholics have come to (in many ways, at least) view themselves as adversaries.
As I reflected on all of these things, I had an experience which I suppose you could say was "defining." Although, that term is a bit dramatic, I guess. I would like to share it with you.
One day, I had to give someone a ride to a neighborhood in San Diego that is known for being progressive. A lot of gay people live there, too. This person had an appointment, which took about an hour. There was a coffee shop near the location of my friend's appointment. So, I got a cup of coffee, and passed the time sitting at one of the little tables on the sidewalk outside of the establishment. (The coffee was OUTSTANDING, by the way.) As I sat, I watched the people come and go. As I had never really spent any time in this neighborhood, I looked around and soaked in the atmosphere of the place. It reminded me a lot of my college experience. There were many people -- a great DIVERSITY of people. And, within and among this great diversity of people, nobody seemed to mind anybody else. Everyone was pleasant. They interacted cordially. They left each to his or her own business. It was very relaxing. Actually, I had not felt so relaxed in quite a while. And it came to my mind that all the hostility we harbor toward one another and the fear we have of each other and the "culture war" mentality that is so pervasive in our country are, basically, idiotic. Sorry if I'm stepping on your toes here. I'm not saying there aren't discussions we need to have in our society. There are important issues that we need to work out amongst ourselves. But, as we are discussing pressing matters and working out our issues, I think we can really drop the fear and the hostility. And I hope we do, because there are some lovely people "on the other side of the fence." Even if you feel that it is your duty to disagree with their "lifestyles" and their "choices," there is really no need for -- or any excuse for -- fear or hostility or hatred. I think we can work things out, without all the negativity. If we have the will to do so, anyway.