I am just now returning from the second gathering of my immediate family, immediate to me at least, my siblings and their offspring (as well as at least one of our parents) in seven weeks. In May, we gathered in New York for my third eldest niece’s Bat Mitzvah. This past weekend, we celebrated my Mom’s 75th birthday in San Diego.
What distinguished these two weekends from past such gatherings was the near absence of political (for lack of better word) confrontations. In our family, the partisan divide falls neatly along gender lines, with the men Republicans, the women Democrats (but the sisters-in-law tend to vote Republican while the brothers-in-law lean left, but not dogmatically so).
(The absence of political disagreements made these weekends more enjoyable, far more enjoyable, than the typical family get-together.)
Anyway, it reminded me how well we can all get along if we refrain from discussing politics. I love my Mom and both my sisters and share much in common with all three. My Mom and I both love art and had a wonderful day on Saturday with my third eldest nephew (her grandson) at the San Diego Museum of Art where we saw an amazing exhibit, Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece. (I could see it again, even found material for the current chapter of my dissertation in the depictions on the various vases.)
My more liberal (and politically active) sister shares my passion; she is a first-rate mother. And then there’s my San Francisco sister to whom I’ve become particularly close since I joined her in the Golden State. She has become a good listener (and a good friend), sympathetic to my “plight” as a single man. And her first-born is helping her learn the maternal skills her elder sister enjoys.
I say all this because I wonder if some of our critics, who often show the same passion for politics as does the elder (of my) sister(s), also have some of the qualities my liberal siblings possess, that they too are good brothers, sisters, devoted children or loving parents or like yours truly a doting uncle (or aunt). I try sometimes to see through their harsh commentary to imagine the person beneath and hope sometimes that through posts like this one they can see the humanity behind my on-line political persona.
As I delighted in a family gathering free of politics, I wondered if I should take a break from political blogging. since I’m extending the family vacation by taking a brother and his three children to the Happiest Place on Earth, I’ve decided to do just that. I have a few ideas for political posts, but will sideline them for the moment. If I chose to write them later, they may not appear as timely as they would if I wrote them now (in haste), but, well, I will get my point across. And sometimes, as in our family exchanges, that does seem to be the purpose of our impassioned perorations.
Now, while I don’t always agree with my sisters, I do know they hold forth on the various issues of concern to them with great passion and sincerity. And I ask that our critics show a similar understanding for our posts. Some of our critics, notably rusty of late, do seem to show a healthy respect for our ideas, but others often weigh in to attack us personally (or conservatives (particularly gay conservatives) in general) instead of addressing the points we raise. It is almost as if the purpose of their fascination with this blog is to find a target for their own frequent frustrations, their occasional happiness or even they recurring inner anxieties.
Instead of responding by attacking us, assuming the worst about our motivations, consider the points we raise. And then try thinking of us as you think of a friend or family member with whom with whom you share passions and pastimes, but occasionally disagree on matters political. On my better days, I try to do just that when I read the comments of our critics.
And this recent trip, in large part due to the paucity of political discourse, reminded me yet again how lucky I am to have the family I do, even if several among them do not share my political beliefs.