Yesterday afternoon, as I was sitting down to write todayís column, a favorite aunt of mine informed me that a close friend of hers has been reading (and supposedly enjoying) my weekly musings. The catch? Heís currently serving with our troops in Afghanistan.
Now Iíll be the first to admit that itís crossed my mind from time to time just how many people actually take a few moments of their Wednesday, while perusing our hometown daily, to check out my (at times) completely random thoughts on life. Yet I certainly never expected to hear I have a ďfanĒ approximately 7,500 miles away Ė on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, no less. And it got me to thinking.
Over the past 14 months, 9 days and oh, about one hour, ever since I first started here at The Evening Sun, Iíve noticed you can tell a lot about any particular writer by his or her tone, phrasing and, for lack of a better term, literary preferences. And in some cases Ė especially when it comes to a weekly column Ė their political, religious and personal beliefs. The only problem with that, as far as Iíve been able to discern, is the ever-increasing tendency for stereotyping which has become so commonplace today.
In the past Ė and at times theyíve been right on the mark Ė friends, family and casual acquaintances have pegged me as a die-hard liberal. A left of the fence, fanatical, nut-case liberal, which has somehow become synonymous with socialist in the last two to three years. What I find truly ironic and interesting, however, is the timing. It seems liberals across the nation became socialists around the same time President Obama took office and the Tea Party Patriots burst onto the political scene.
And no, I donít believe in coincidences.
I must say itís true though, I am (for the most part) a liberal democrat. Unfortunately for those who would label me as such, thatís not all I am. In fact, I have a number of personal beliefs which steer more toward the right than many people would ever think. Which brings me back to my ďfanĒ in Afghanistan.
Anyone who knows me is well aware of my feelings when it comes to our countryís conflicts in the Middle East. Iíve remained firmly against both wars since their inception. That doesnít mean, however, that I refuse to pay tribute to our armed forces. And thatís the kind of stereotype Iím talking about. My problem with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan stem from one simple fact Ė what good have they really accomplished? Yet I remain 100 percent supportive of our troops over there and my only wish is to see them come home safe.
And then thereís the numerous, controversial social programs, considered so evil by certain individuals, namely conservatives, who seem to have forgotten that many of these programs Ė and their misuse Ė were around long before Obama took office. As a ďdie-hardĒ liberal, Iíve been accused more than once for my support of these programs, and I do support them, when theyíre not taken advantage of. Trust me, Iíve been in line at the supermarket, typically with my completely unhealthy, yet cheap, dinner of microwave-ready macaroni and cheese and Hot Pockets, and witnessed families and individuals racking-up $300 and $400 grocery bills worth of ďfreeĒ food. Yet who am I to judge? I donít know their situation and itís really none of my business. And even though I am a taxpayer it still doesnít give me the right, as so many seem to think. Do we need to monitor and punish those who wrongfully use these programs as a way of life? Most certainly. Should those receiving social assistance, particularly those whoíve done so for years, be drug tested? Definitely.
So much for my liberal agenda.
Which brings us to the dreaded topic of gun control. If I were a fanatical, liberal socialist, Iíd be all for the elimination of all guns, throughout the country, right? But Iím not. In fact, many members of my family, not to mention friends, own numerous guns and hunt every year. Believe it or not (gasp), this left-of-the-fence democrat has even fired a gun on more than one occasion. Imagine that.
No, I have absolutely no problem with Joe the Plumber, Frank the Car Salesman or Gary the Carpenter, whatever you want to call him (or her), owning a gun. At the same time, however, Iím fairly certain our forefathers didnít have rocket launchers, grenades and ground-to-air missile turrets in mind when they penned the Second Amendment. Logically, it makes no sense for your average American citizen to own that type of weaponry. So I guess you could say Iím all for gun regulation, yet I support every citizenís right to bear arms in defense of themselves or their family.
Itís my belief that the overall majority of our countryís population hold similar opinions on all of these subjects. No one, at least those who arenít completely ignorant, looks at life as black and white, red or blue, conservative or liberal. Weíre all much more complex than that, if you ask me, and I find it much more likely that we all share at least some common beliefs. Itís always dangerous to stereotype a person in any regard, because weíre all capable of change throughout our lives. To think any different is, well, truly pretentious.
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