I suppose the other…

I suppose the other thing that gives me hope about the future is that if this new presidency is the result of cultural/moral convictions, then I have personal evidence that those kind of convictions are susceptible to change over time. Sometimes over shockingly short periods of time. My own parents, for example, had an arranged marriage -- they barely spoke before the wedding. By contrast, my sisters and I are choosing our own partners (and reserving the right to be single, or loosely-attached, or poly), and my parents may not be thrilled about this, but over time, they've adapted.

We have gone from screaming fights in the early 1990s about my dating white boys to Kevin and Ryan (Sharmi's boyfriend) coming for Thanksgiving. My mother was saying just yesterday on the phone that Ryan was such a nice boy, from a good family that raised him right -- evidenced by the fact that he regularly makes time to go visit his grandmother, among other things -- and that she wished her daughters would learn from him. Since I am all for visiting grandmothers as a general principle of being a good person, I was quite heartened to hear this from her.

When I stop and think about it, I'm really stunned by how far to the left my parents have moved in the last ten years -- maybe not in terms of what they would prefer for themselves or their daughters, but in terms of what they're willing to tolerate. Tolerance is all I'm asking for, right now. And if they make it to acceptance in the next decade, or, gods-willing, agreement, then I will be incredibly happy.

We've come so far, just in the period when I've been an adult. It's hard not to be impatient, to desperately want change to happen faster. But -- deep breaths. I have to believe that given enough time, it will happen.

7 thoughts on “I suppose the other…”

  1. Ben – what’s the URL for Greg’s blog itself? Your link to the comments made me curious to read the original post – however the comments page doesn’t seem to have a link to that post.


  2. I know I’m not as liberal as you are, and yet, I happen to find the “visiting one’s grandmother” a rather poor criterion of being a good person.

    I suppose the common ground between extreme liberals and extreme conservatives consists of this, of the setting of rules for society. I guess as more moderate, I believe in setting consequences.

    Like the grandmother-visiting, there’s no clear answer to me. What if you live far away? What if she was abusive or non-existent? What if… Bond with your relatives if bonding is a good thing. At a certain age, the grandparent ought to know that they reap what they sow, and if they’ve never taken the time to be in their grandchildren’s lives, then is it my obligation to help them?

    The “visiting grandparents” seems like a holdover from a different time, when families were local, when there was little governmental social security etc. I don’t see one system (poorer countries with strong social ties) as better than another (America with far looser ties due to geography), but both responding to different environmental stimuli.

    The issue of gay marriage – you and your parents will disagree on it over the sake of principle. My opinion is tolerance of both sides. Call it something different if the straights don’t want to be associated with it, but gay marriage will happen when GLBT’s need it to happen. I think if the gay community wanted a strong-civil-union with partner rights – it would happen. At least, according to the glb friends I have, there’s such a strong culture of promiscuity that opinions on marriage are quite fractured. There’s also the sense that a lot of the glb crowd really Wants to be marginal, that they like being cutting-edge or whatever. The idea of their choice of lover is really just that – and don’t bore me with the details, please – is horrifying to them.

  3. Side note: Calling it something different doesn’t work. Domestic partnerships do not have the same rights as a marriage. Seperate but Equal does not work in practice.

  4. I think visiting grandparents falls into the category of ‘taking care of your community’ for me, generally. I think it’s important that we keep an eye on the people around us, that we make sure the elderly, the underprivileged, the children, the temporarily strapped for cash, etc., aren’t slipping through the cracks. I don’t think it matters whether you bond with these people, or even if you like them. This is separate.

    I’d like that to happen on a national level, with universal health care, for example, and a higher minimum wage, but I also think that being a good person means you try to do that on an individual, local level as well. Mostly, this manifests in my life by my trying to feed people until they fall asleep in stuffed exhaustion. 🙂 Also by participating in groups like SAPAC, or the SLF, or DesiLit. Artists need to eat too.

    That said, I don’t particularly feel like you need to extend that care to people who have actively rejected it — if one’s grandparents were abusive, for example, I think one may legitimately spend your community-care energy elsewhere. There are plenty of people who could use a little taking care of. I think all of us can, at one point or another.

    And on another front, I actually totally understand the position of gays (or straights) who choose not to marry, for whatever reason. Obviously, given my own choices, I believe there are plenty of valid reasons not to get married. But at the same time, I believe it is a terrible crime that extensive legal privileges are available to straight couples and not to gay couples, and I see this in the same category as the bans against interracial marriage, the last of which was only struck down very recently.

    Part of why Kevin and I haven’t married is that very unfairness; for us, it feels much like joining a straights-only privileged club, parallel in situation to those white-only social clubs. And at least so far, we haven’t been able to find a way to rationalize enjoying that privilege. Right now, I think the only way we would be willing to legally marry would be if it were a question of being able to be in the same country, and even that would feel grievously unfair to those gay couples who don’t have the option in similar circumstances.

    Would you dine in a restaurant that had a sign on the door — “no black people allowed”? Or “no queers allowed”? Right now, marriage laws in America effectively say the latter. And of course, it’s much harder not to get married (given all the cultural/parental/romantic/ceremonial/religious/financial/etc. pressures and desires) than it is to avoid a racist or homophobic restaurant. But it’s a useful parallel to consider.

  5. We need not only to visit the elderly, poor, and disenfranchised people we know; we also need to write about them. Stories, if they’re well-realized, stay in people’s minds and affect them on an emotional, visceral level that intellectual debate never will. Think about Steinbeck, Erskine Caldwell, Richard Wright, and Carson McCullers. A dozen or more good paperback novels or TV shows about people who lose their health insurance and have to live in their cars–fictional equivalents of Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed”– might galvanize people. As long as we writers waste our time writing memoirs about our struggle with alcoholism in college while the lives of those miserable-looking employees at Walmart go undocumented, we should be ashamed of ourselves.

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