I admit it. I subscribe to all those “liberal” newsfeeds and mailing lists, like UPWORTHY, CREDO, Ultraviolet, BBC, NPR, The New York Times. And lately, distressed by the stalemate in Washington, I’ve posted links from these on FB. And, surprise, surprise, I’ve gotten retaliating comments from “conservative” friends, and friends of their friends. The most recent was a link to a 1961 recording of Ronald Reagan talking about the evils of socialized medicine.
Yep, I remember hearing this. it was an LP record, and my folks invited groups of friends over to listen to it. They were never shy about their politics. I was in sixth grade and that commie pinko John F. Kennedy had just been elected. The country was going to hell in a hand basket. I also remember how LIVID my mother got at me in August 1976, when right before the Republican convention, I commented that wasn’t it something to be grateful for that we had three good and honest men to choose from to lead the country. Jimmy Carter had already been selected by the Democrats, and the Republicans were to choose between Gerald Ford and Reagan. I could have been happy enough with any of them. But for my mom it was Reagan, Reagan, only Reagan. She was devastated when Ford was tapped to run against Carter.
Before going to Oklahoma City with Mom to visit Mama Hope that August, I had just come through a bout of shingles. I found that it was imperative that I NOT become worked up about politics. It wasn’t just politics. I had some personal issues, but if my thought became inflamed about anything, that horrible rash would reappear. I had spent the summer mostly in bed, learning to control my thinking. Barely able to move, I learned concentrated mindfulness. I spent days and nights consciously identifying myself, everyone I knew, and every detail around me in terms of spiritual qualities. For example, the redbud tree outside the bedroom window became a metaphor for vibrancy, flexibility, growth, development, It gently responded to the summer breeze, and I tried to emulate that responsiveness, bending my thought to that of the Holy Spirit wind that seemed to be blowing through my whole experience. This mindfulness was as effective as an electric fence. I literally had to corral every angry, disruptive thought and replace it with something kind and loving. A knee-jerk mental reaction would lead to an immediate physical reaction in my body. It was a heck of a discipline.
Eventually Mom got her wish, and both she and I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980. Honestly, I don’t even know how Larry voted. I still had some of that discipline left from 1976.
In the mid-80’s Larry and I moved to California. “Don’t go out there and get all weird on us,” counseled our West Texas friends. Does getting weird include making friends with Democrats, people who actually went to Berkeley, who voted for Alan Cranston? And, son of a gun, they had neither horns nor tails, and nary a pitchfork in sight. I found them to be deeply caring and loving people. Just like my Republican friends back in Texas, and all the other Republican friends I soon made in South Orange County.
And that’s where I need to go now — back to that sense of loving and caring. From a distance here in Mexico, surrounded by an admittedly liberal enclave of expat Americans and Canadians (you know, those socialists), listening to the echo chamber of my chosen “news” sources, as — please admit it — we all tend to do these days, it’s easy to become reactionary. Responsiveness, not reaction, is what I need right now. No more links. So bring it on — a good clean gust of Holy Spirit wind to carry me upward in thought, to carry us all upward and outward, even though in the whirlwind we may be 180 degrees apart.