"Nobody thinks anymore," Mr. Jerger complained.
--from Flanney O’Connor’s short story "A Stroke of Good Fortune"
This November 2, five of the eight members of my family will be voting as registered Republicans. Ohio, a major swing state, has the potential for a huge turn-over, since, except for half of the 33-person Senate, every single major seat is up for election. President Obama and former President Clinton came a few times to support the Democratic candidates and Gingrich has shown his support for Kasich and Taylor, the Republican candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor.
Kasich is leading by double-digits in the polls, so the Republicans are crossing their fingers and the Democrats are making snide comments until silly season is over.
Muffy, one of the three members of the family not yet eligible to vote, has been volunteering for Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt’s campaign as part of a school requirement. She has enjoyed it thus far and even got to meet her yesterday, when Rep. Schmidt came into the office to get a couple signs!
Muff is a sophomore at a very liberal high school. When people in her class heard whose campaign she was working for, they referred to the candidate as “Jean Shit.” Muffy has a good sense of humor, though, which helps. Unfortunately, showing that kind of attitude is not a compelling argument to join the other side. It only makes her more defiantly proud to be conservative.
It is interesting to me to see how diversity shows itself. People like to tease me about attending a conservative college, but my mind was opened more by the diversity-of-ideas there than at my own diversity-by-appearance high school. And while my college was non-denominational, my Christian faith grew and was fostered there. Muff’s school has a majority of Jews, as well as Muslims and non-religious. She is in the minority as a Catholic-Christian.
I like the story of when Muffy let it slip that she is pro-life to one of her friends. None of her friends are. The other girl was quick to say she does not believe that life starts until after the baby leaves the womb. Please take note of the word “believe” and the girl’s usage of it.
When Muff was preparing to be confirmed into the Church earlier this year, I asked a few friends and family members to write her a note explaining what being Catholic means to them. Since she is attending public school (unlike her older siblings, who all attended parochial), I thought it would be nice for her to have the perspective of “older” members of the Church as a backboard. I loved all of the responses, even though they were not for me. One friend’s struck me particularly when he expounded on the Nicene Creed’s beginning, where we say “We believe” and not “We know.”
I love that. My family is Christian because we believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World and Roman Catholic because we know it is the most Biblically-based religion in the world; our lineage started at Peter, the first Pope, and has been sustained over 2,000 years. We believe Catholicism to be the fullest understanding of Christianity intellectually, historically and spiritually. Not all agree with that assessment, but that is our rationale.
It is two different things to believe and to know. Belief in something implies a subjective assessment. Knowledge usually requires a specific fact to support it. In June, Joy Behar, a former Catholic and one of the hosts of ‘The View,’ ruffled my feathers by saying she didn’t like prayer because it replaces logical thinking. Talk about an illogical statement.
So when Muffy’s friend says she doesn’t believe babies in the womb are not people until outside the womb, she’s admitting this is a subjective belief and not based on fact. Science proves a life begins at conception. If it did not, there would be no need to abort. If it was just a bunch of cells, the body would take care of them, and women wouldn't need to take prenatal pills, have regular doctor visits or want to watch "it" on an ultrasound. Legally, when a person kills a pregnant woman, that person is charged with double murder. Historically, when a third of a generation disappears, people usually call that genocide. And if that's pro-choice, then I'm pro-consequences. But it's not hip to think people are more than their carnal urges. It's backwards to save sex for marriage. It's close-minded to think of babies worth protecting and not consider the mother's life in this miraculous age of technology and great medical advances.
But I disgress. Emotional rationalization can and will make complete sense, and serve as fact to boot!
Thinking and intellect requires the ability to see both sides while only holding one. To feel compassion for someone is not the same action required for decision making. And yet, the carnival continues! The art of discorse is quickly going down the tube in America, I am afraid, and is the symptom of a bigger issue: ignorance and elitism.
The American education system is redonkulous. The basics are being skipped over, even in good schools. Basic memorization, people, is important. Sure, boring initially, but we sit through commercials, don't we? There's a bigger picture to consider. How many people can name off the Bill of Rights? The multiplication tables? The Latin conjugations are nothing to be trifled with, you know.
All my sister's government professor does, for example, is rant. He gave the class a "Are You Smart Enough to Vote?" quiz the first day and rants that most people aren't; he regularly humiliates students and rants about that; he blames Reagan and Bush for the country's issues and rants against Republicans, the bane of this country; in short, he fails to teach. Kato wants to learn the material, study for the test and take something away from the course for an educated citizenry. Alas, that may be too much to ask from the man who proudly tells his students that he is the reason Obama ran for president. My sister now uses scare quotes when referring to her education in that class, which makes me even more grateful for my own college experience.
It is not someone's liberalism that faults them; one of my all time favorite teachers was my AP US History teacher in high school was a liberal. But he was also a teacher. He presented the material and we were expected to learn it and form thoughts and conclusions from it. This isn't only a liberal problem either; I know plenty of conservatives who don't want to hear the other side speak. I say, bring it all into the light. Talk about it, discuss it. That doesn't mean acceptance will follow. I've been pretty consistent in what I believe throughout my life, but my reasoning has changed tremendously. There is always more to know, discover and understand.
This election season will come and pass. Politics is as sturdy as the wind. The government should be on its knees, begging us for money, opposed to the other way around. There is a liberal economic conference at the Newseum in D.C. today and, surprise! surprise! They collectively think the middle-class should be taxed more. Really? Is that the only solution to our fiscal problems? This country is suffering from a serious lack of imagination.
At least, that's what I think.