Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Discombobulated

What? It's already past 10:00 p.m. A half-full, Costco-sized ketchup bottle sits on the kitchen counter. Open Prang watercolor paints on the kitchen table accompany Babygirl's latest ragged freezer paper painting. I never did correct TwinBoyB's grammar work from today, nor did I put water in the crockpot after I scooped out the remaining stew. My house looks somewhat abandoned, as if we all ran out during a fire drill.

But you can't really blame me because last night I googled a variation of myself and found a stunning mention of a particular blog posting I made way back in February. I discovered this last night at 11:15 p.m., way too late for a woman whose alarm rings at 5:10 a.m. I've been preoccupied ever since with this derogatory mention of myself in a stranger's lecture.

I had already been contemplating how disconnected I feel from our society, how belittled I feel as a woman who votes Republican, cherishes her faith and stays at home as a primary caregiver. I am sick to death of the mockery of conservative Christianity by people who claim to embrace diversity and tolerance. I am weary of the voices that refuse to admit that those of us who oppose abortion might have a valid point. There is all take and no give, it seems.

Why--please, someone tell me--why are women of faith, Republican women, women who scrapbook--assumed to be stupid? As if our default position is one of unthinking acceptance of ridiculous theology and backward political viewpoints? As if we are the ones who are intolerant and judgmental? All too often I find myself in the spotlight of judgment by people vastly different from me. All I can do is squint through that glare, trying to look into the eyes of those on the other side. Turn off the light! Come closer and sit down. We can talk, you know. I've got nothing to hide, even though I'm made to feel ridiculous for my belief system. I resent the implication that I am dim because of my conservative leanings and my choice to stay at home and raise my children.

I speak my personal truth here. Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and knowingly spout off something provocative, like when I called Michael Moore "smarmy." Most often, I'm just describing how things look from here, inside my house, inside my head. I think this goes a long way towards forging common ground--because if you begin to see my viewpoint and offer me a glimpse of your viewpoint, we can find those intersections of our lives and see that we are really not all that different. With common ground, comes understanding.

This is not a monologue. It's my half of a dialogue and ideally, you provide the other half by commenting here, writing on your own blog or even mentally mulling things over.

As for me, I might clean up the kitchen counter before I go to bed, but most likely, I'll leave that for tomorrow. I'd hate to have nothing to do in the morning.

21 Comments:

Blogger weorwe said...

Mel,

I know what you mean. I'm continually surprised to see the same kinds of comments on both sides -- what you said about supposedly tolerant liberals mocking Christians, or what others say about supposedly loving Christians mocking liberals. I think it's impossible -- or nearly so -- to really know the facts about anything political. What can I know about the situation in Iraq, or in Sudan, or in Kansas, except what other people tell me? And when everyone offers contradictory stories, on what basis can I choose which story is right? I think that's why I avoid political blogs and prefer blogs (and other forms of writing) like yours -- the local, the personal.

6:24 AM  
Blogger Julana said...

Mel,
You live in the wrong state! But I know what you mean, because I watch c-span and listen to NPR once in awhile. I think conservatives represent stability, security, the values built in the past. Newer seems better to some people. And it's always easier to tear things down than build them up. I am trying to read Nancy Pearcy's _Total Truth_, when I get some time. I think it might help with some of these issues.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Eyes said...

I am the other woman. I am on the other side, yet I do share a very similiar belief to you. Let's talk. Let's listen and maybe we can learn -- the both of us. I completely agree (though at times I am sure I have ranted strongly in my blog -- I do apologize if I offended you).

The answers to your questions are complicated but perhaps I will give it some thought and try to respond...in the least offensive way I can.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

I'm on the other side of the political fence, but you know what? My kitchen looks like a bomb detonated somewhere in the vicinity of the sink. If I don't load the dishwasher soon, my children will be drinking orange juice from their hands. So yeah... we've got a lot more in common than people think ;)

8:26 AM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

"All too often I find myself in the spotlight of judgment by people vastly different from me."

Be grateful those same people are merely judging you, rather than actively legislating personal restrictions due to those vast differences.

This is a thought-provoking piece, Mel. I'm sorry you're experiencing judgment from people who have put you in a box. For what it's worth, I've got you sitting under a tree in the sunshine, sharing cookies and lemonade with someone who couldn't be more different from you yet who is also very much alike: me.

Suzanne

9:30 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

Eyes for Lies, Trish, Suzanne--you are some of the best people that have happened to me since I started blogging. I love to find those points where our lives intersect and see that we are people, just people.

And Suzanne, I see your point. You've helped me understand your viewpoint more than you'll ever know.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Eyes said...

Mel, I took a gamble, a risk -- and I typed up my thoughts. I tried to be as respectful as I could -- but still share my feelings.

I hope you don't take it personal. It's nothing personal. It's just my overview of the world we share.

I really like you, Mel. If we lived close, I think we'd actually be good friends. It's our differences that makes me love you. I love our differences -- I rellish them.

All I ask for in a friend is compassion and caring -- and you demonstrate both for me. That's all I could ever, ever ask for!

Hugs to you! May we both gain from sharing our insights...

10:50 AM  
Blogger Catharine said...

Don't take it personally, Mel. I've been on both sides ot the stick -- SAHM and WFM (workforce mom), and I've taken the brunt of wrath from both sides. I was stupid and incompetent when I returned to the working world because I'd stayed home with my daughter for three years. Now, I'm a heartless, unloving mother because I didn't stay in a marriage that was unraveling my soul a day at a time so I could stay at home with my daughter. Can't win for losing.

What I've learned from that experience is this: people are going to assume your stupid -- because you don't agree with them politically, because you scrapbook, because you're blonde, because you don't analyze actuaries and graphically plot market strategies, because you buy catsup at Costco. But mostly, people are going to assume your stupid just because you are a woman. We're easy targets, no matter what we do with our day. People make those judgements all the time because we live in a society which is, let's face it, run by white Anglo-Saxon Protestant men. And the sad, angering part of it all is that your harshest critics will likely be other women.

We are all sisters in this big struggle together -- the struggle to be women in the 21st Century and to truly have our choices -- all our choices -- honored and taken seriously. Instead of honoring each other, we belittle and crush each other's spirits and demoralize each other to prove how "correct" our own choices were --to work or not to work (as if many of us actually choose... sheesh!).

And, for the record... the terms "liberal" and "Christian" are not mutually exlusive. Though I am still an unwaivering believer in Christ, I felt the need to leave organized religion behind last year because I was saddened and disillusioned by the turn that I've seen churches take in the last five years. Still, I have many tolerant, loving friends who are both Christian and liberal. One of the reasons I left the church is because I have deep, deep spiritual reservations about the co-opting of an entire belief system by one political party or the other. Religion and politics make very dangerous bedfellows indeed -- always have, always will. Like naughty kindergarteners, I believe they should never be allowed to play together.

~C~

11:14 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

You asked for input, so here it is.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Christi said...

Ummmm, I consider myself to be a liberal, and I don't judge you or any other conservatives based on your political beliefs. I have to say, it was hard around the time of the presidential election, at least to talk about politics, but...Almost all, if not all, of my friends are conservatives, but I don't care. I am now a stay-at-home mom with them, and I love it! I resent the judgement that I've already felt b/c of that choice, but I don't know that that has anything at all to do with conservative or liberalism. Besides, if God hadn't made us all different people with our own sets of beliefs, then how boring would the world be!?

5:46 PM  
Blogger -epm said...

I think I'm an open and tolerant person. I can accept and forgive a lot of things in a lot of people. Indeed, you had my sympathy and compassion right up until....

scrapbooking.

I'm sorry; this I cannot abide. Down this road leads madness... and maybe rubber-stamping and homemade greeting cards. Repent while you still can.

(this is what passes as humor in my dark and lonely mind. please forgive any offense. peace.)

7:24 PM  
Blogger blueyedtracy said...

I read your post earlier today . . . .and then came accross this. The writer doesn't really reveal his political persuasion, but takes issue with those who make rather harsh statements against christians in general. I was going to 'comment' more, but maybe I'll write a post instead. Thanks for your inspriation and honesty. (I hope my link works)

8:07 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

Mel, I am so sorry you feel that way.

My thoughts on it are on my blog.

Sorry for the previous deleted comment, I am so tired and my link wasn't working, so I gave up!

11:21 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Darling said...

Mel I'm so with you. And frankly ma' dear I dont give a d**m what others think.

Be true to yourself. I find when people criticize me it most often means they're jealous of the strength of my convictions. People want to believe in something. But most people cant get up the back bone to actually figure for themselves what they believe! It's easier to jsut criticize those who have made the stand.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Julana said...

Mel,
Vocal people in the disability community ask to be referred to as People First. (Do search for more.) That means you are a woman with generally conservative views. Or a woman who usually votes Republican. And those who disagree with you are people who have generally liberal views.
Like my son has Down syndrome. He is not a Down syndrome child, a Down's child or a Down's. Don't use these labels as adjectives or following a form of the verb "to be" for awhile. See if it affects your thinking.

10:21 AM  
Blogger weese said...

ya know... we liberal, congregationalist, democratic lesbian types can be pretty open minded.
I don't like to be judged on my adjectives so I wouldn't judge you on yours.
I may not scrapbook... but we both have to clean the kitchen.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

I enjoy reading your blog; you have a clarity of expression.

4:29 AM  
Blogger Lora said...

I'm so mad at myself, I haven't been keeping up with my blogs and I'm a week late on this reading this post.

Mel, I first found you through Marla Swoffler's blog. However, I do not at all fit her usual reader profile. I am childless, quite liberal and I follow no religion. I admit sometimes I really have to bite my toungue and respectfully move onto the next blog on my list.

I like to hear a variety of opinions and perspectives for as long the person I'm speaking with can stay in discussion mode. I find rating liberals more bothersome then I find rating conservatives. I can choose not to listen to the ranting conservatives, but the ranting liberals give people like me a bad reputation and that find difficult to ignore.

I intentionally read the blogs of people whose opinions and situations differ from mine. It allows for me to see that which we have in common. It also often provides information and perspectives that I may not have considered. That doesn't mean my opinon will be changed, but it makes it easier to respect the priorities of people's who opinion differs from my mine.

1:35 AM  
Blogger Cris said...

Mel,
I have been reading your blog, enjoying your sharing of your life and your family, and have yet to comment. Until now.
All the labels in the world do not tell you who someone is. I have lots of labels that identify parts of me, but that is not the whole of who I am. We share some of our labels, and we are opposites in others. Does this mean we are different or that we are the same or.....does it really mean anything?
Or is the important thing getting to know someone first and then looking where the labels fall?
I love words, but the biggest problem with words is that unless you know someone elses personal dictionary, confusion can reign.
Do our politics or our religion or race or orientation make us the people we are? or is it our compassion, our ethic, our honesty?
I have been some of the places you have. Parent, wife, stay at home mom, etc. I have been places you may not have, grandmother, lesbian, workforce parent, activist...I consider my politics to be liberal because I am not conservative, I have little respect for politicians because they have no consistant ethic. I believe that how a person worships what is greater than them is a private issue and should not dictate others behavior, only our own. I believe that if we do not start valuing our children, there will be no future, because it is they who will determine the future of the world. I believe we focus too much on the "should nots" instead of teaching the important "shoulds", and that these are the kinds of things that tell you about who I am, and not so much any labels.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

Cris--and everyone else, too--please come over to my house for tea. Please do not pay attention to the crumbs or the cobwebs and I'll try to keep the children's screaming to a dull roar. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

9:52 PM  

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