I intended to write a follow up to yesterday's entry about social civil war, then promised myself I would just let it go. Then I dreamed about. If I dream about it, it must be weighing heavily on my mind and I would be just adding to my rising blood pressure if I ignored it.
In the dream, I was stuck in a maze. The maze was made of stone and shrubbery, the walls at least ten feet high. All I could see above me was a sky littered with small storm clouds that were joining together to form a rather black sky. The walls of the maze were decorated with old, torn posters of Fidel Castro. Every time I thought I found the way out of the maze, I would be confronted by Michael Moore. At one point he was eating an Egg McMuffin and I asked if he was enjoying the Canadian bacon. He said it was a little too rough for his taste. Whatever. He still wouldn't let me through. The dream went on for a good twenty minutes after that, but you don't want to hear about that. Not really important.
What's important is that I clarify my issues from yesterday.
No it's not. It's not important at all because I really don't owe anyone any explanations for the way I feel
. I'll just say to those that thought my entire post was about the Importance of Bloggers, you missed the boat. And to the one person who thought I should be grateful for my trolls because you don't get any comments: you're a complete idiot.
Wait, there is one thing. I suppose a lot of people are wary of comments, so they email me instead. One person wrote:
bq. You keep saying you used to be a lefty or a liberal. I know that 9/11 had a lot to do with you changing your views. But I've read your archives and I want to know how you can come around full circle like that. It's like throwing out who you used to be. Were you a phony lefty or are you a phony rightie?
Again, clarification on that needed, but I'll wing it.
Yes, I was a liberal. When I was seventeen, I marched in no-nukes rallies. Now I think that nuclear power is our future. You live and learn. I was a naive teenager who was sucked into the "movement" by older friends who preached their gospel to me daily.
I was always uncomfortable in that group, as if I were a poser, someone who didn't really belong but was going along for the ride because it was supposedly the right thing to do.
In later years, I went through several periods of self-loathing that stemmed from activities I participated in with these people. I never went to bed feeling self-satisfied like they did. Most of the time - even as recently as three years ago - I felt slightly dirty, as if I were doing something wrong or not being true to who I was. But I went on carrying the banners and talking the talk and using all the correct phrases and terminology and talking points. I could have made a movie: I Was A Leftist Robot.
The thing about lefties is they want you to follow whole play book or none of it. You are either with them and their issues 100% or you're a pariah. When I bought an SUV, I lost my street cred. I went from a compatriot to a baby killer. I was shunned by a good portion of the society I belonged to.
It was then that my cool exterior began to chip away. This was even before 9/11. I would have conversations with my father - a conservative Republican - and find myself agreeing with him more and more, though I would never tell him that. I would fight with him on certain issues but I didn't fight with a strong will. At some point, I realized that when I debated with my father, I was only reciting from a script. Were these really my core beliefs? I questioned myself and my motives more and more.
I became increasingly uncomfortable with my own ideals. I would write something and then immediately feel ashamed about it. But I didn't want to step out of line. I didn't want to lose the friends I had and I certainly did not want to lose myself
. If I admitted that everything I had been saying and writing and doing was done out of some sense of obligation and not with any true belief, then I would be branding myself a liar and a hypocrite.
Did I really hate my country the way the rest of my clan did? No. Never. Did I think we were an evil people out to conquer the rest of the world? No. Would I give some more thought to being a vegetarian? No way. Would I get rid of my SUV in the name of the cause? Nope. Would I be a tree sitter or give money to the people who want to destroy a car dealership? Hell no. So umm...why are you calling yourself one of us? Damned if I know.
The big thing at the time I was doing this soul searching was a G8 summit, or one of those world conglomerate gatherings, where people who were at the time my peers did a the protest-by-smashing-private-property thing. I wrote something that basically said those people were idiots. My peers were aghast.
All these things, all this self doubt and internal questioning happened before 9/11. That fateful day was just a huge wake up call for me. Even then, it took several months before I would finally let go of the left and admit that I was more of a moderate or a centrist than a liberal/leftist. Once the conspiracy theories started and people started blaming America first, I knew I had to cut loose.
If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know the rest because it all pretty much played out right here in public, preserved in bytes.
An interesting thing happened to me after I shed that faux lefty skin I was wearing. I was finally at peace with myself. No longer walking around denying who I was and pretending to be something else, I was able to be happy with who I was. I hated myself when I was trying to fit in with people I should have abandoned when I was 18. I hate my thoughts, I hated the slogans I blindly followed along with, I hated the way I couldn't really hold my own in a debate because I was debating only with words they armed me with, I wasn't debating with my gut feelings.
I don't deny my former politics at all. They're all here, in my early archives and the ones that aren't here you can find by digging around on archive.org. In fact, I'll gather them all up and put them in one place for easy reading. I will never deny my past. I'm uncomfortable with it and I am ashamed of many of the things I did and said, but I've never been one for revisionist history. I am who I am and I was who I was. I'm not here to please you or to seek your approval. I did enough approval seeking in my lifetime and I finally figured out that the only person whose approval I should seek is myself. A little late in life to be learning a lesson such as that, but better late than never.
I feel at home now. I don't feel like a stranger in my own country. I don't feel the nagging self doubt, I don't feel the strings being pulled when I talk. And I don't need a playbook to debate anyone because all my talking points are my own.
I hope that answers your question.
[You can read more about How I Got Here at Part 1
, from November 2002]