Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I digress

I consider myself to be a generally apolitical person. Certainly, I have my leanings but I generally keep my views to myself. And zealots who share my political beliefs are almost always as annoying to me as zealots who have opposing viewpoints. Although I may have a stance on various moral issues I rarely feel a strong need to persuade others to come around to my way of thinking. Perhaps this is due to a lack of strong conviction in my own belief system or to an indifference about what others think so long as I am not personally affected. But mainly it's that I think it's futile to try to change people's minds. The cynic in me believes that people are generally hard-wired to believe that which it serves their best interests to believe. Certainly, there is a strong correlation between a person's background and socio-economic status and their political affiliations and/or leanings. (I even remember recently reading somewhere that people's political inclinations may be partly genetic.) Anyway, the foregoing are all generalizations to which there certainly exist caveats and I appreciate that people will often adjust their beliefs when presented with data that challenges their views. But I digress before I even start to make my point. The point quite bluntly is that I am fairly moderate so you should trust me. ;-) No, but seriously, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel the reader should know where I come from so that they may judge my opinions accordingly. No one is truly objective after all.

I will declare that I am left of center. I am a registered democrat and cautiously liberal. I am a Hispanic female. I am 38, unmarried with no children (I live with my boyfriend of 7 years who sometimes demands almost as much attention). I am an attorney in the financial services industry, where I assume that most people would not share my views if I expressed them. I never saw the point in alienating half of one's audience anyway. But I also have some intellectual appreciation for why some people feel that small government is best or the philosophy that people cannot be made to feel responsible for the welfare of their compatriots against their will (perhaps because I myself do not care to part with my money so freely). I AM a strong believer in individual liberties. Show me a right and I will probably be supportive - the right to privacy, the right to die, the right to fornicate (responsibly if with multiple partners), the right to generally be indifferent to other people's misfortunes.

Anyway, the foregoing is a long prelude to what I originally wanted to say, which is that I watched Senator Obama's speech when he accepted the Democratic party's nomination the other night and found to my chagrin that I was being moved. I'd watched him in debates but (although I had read his speech on race and was quite impressed with his skill or that of his speechwriters) had never actually heard him make a speech. I had been a Hillary supporter (there I go alienating at least three quarters of my audience) and although I was resigned to support the party's nominee had started out a bit deflated. His speech impressed me for what I was shocked to find it made me feel - I felt like he had held up a mirror and showed to me my cynicism - it made me wish I was a better person. When he said words to the effect that we are better than a country that says to people that "you are on your own" I felt guilt. As I've aged, I have progressively (or regressively depending on whom you ask) embraced the attitude that it's me or the other guy and rejected any suggestion that I bear any social responsibility other than to do no harm, which I still contend is not a terrible place to start. I also resent it when people tell me that I must "give back to my community" (whatever that means) or words to that effect. Having been born to poor parents, my attitude when choosing a career was that serving society should best be left to the rich kids who could afford the luxury of self-righteousness. My primary goal should be to "get ahead" and any success itself would represent progress. Of course, that thinking goes against much that was instilled in me growing up and I never fully freed myself from guilt for doing well while leaving others behind (not to exaggerate my financial well-being since I am far from financially secure and almost every other person I meet has a lot more money than I do). A few days after listening to Obama's speech, my views are not dramatically altered, but the fact remains that I was moved and challenged by a political speech. While listening, I kept asking myself - "could this seemingly right-thinking individual be for real or is he just a smooth operator?" - and I found myself hoping that . . . . Well, that's just it - I found myself HOPING. How embarrassing.

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