Sunday, March 16, 2008

Self-Control, or Why I am not a Buddhist

I have always tried to exercise prudence and restraint. Being a, shall we say, stinkin' liberal with more causes than pairs of socks in a family of lovely, Christian, conservative, southern folk who like to talk about food and illness around the table, I have had to train my tongue in much the same way one trains a particularly stubborn dog: sit...stay...stay...nope, stay...good girl!

Sometimes I am successful. Well, I should probably say that I have been largely successful as I have not yet been excommunicated or disinherited or whatever they call it nowadays. But then there are the times that I feel invincible and irritated or sleep-deprived enough to just say what I want. These are perilous times. I climb up the tree and don't look down until I've climbed so high that there's no friggin' way I can get back down.

This morning was one of those encounters. After listening for about seven minutes to my family bashing the democratic candidates but not touching McCain in all his patriotic martyrdom I got sick of sitting there listening to nonsense. I mean, I don't think that either democrat is liberal enough, and I'm really tired of "Hope"ing for "Change." But I'm 19 and am already so fed up and jaded by conservative impotence that I would sell a kidney to have a democrat in the White House. Someone said something about "well, I heard it on television" (the obvious conclusion to the syllogism being "so it must be true"), and I just snapped.

"Well, you know, most of what you hear on television is complete crap. It's this right-wing media..."

I did not, needless to say, finish my sentence. A chorus of unintelligible noises broke through my delusion that I could say whatever I wanted, and there you have it. Why I am not a Buddhist. I can't shut up. I should have known better. But now that I've started the deluge I actually feel good about it. Now I just have this irrepressible desire to piss people off by saying the most radical things I can think of. This is not going to be pretty...


green with a gun said...

Rather than talking about media bias (for a discussion of which you'd probably enjoy, see Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent), it might be good both for your right-wing family and your left-wing self to concentrate on the actual differences in policy of the candidates.

What will this or that candidate actually do that is good or bad? Why is this or that good or bad? Will they be able to do it, or will Congress or the states stop them?

When you bring it to a discussion of actual policies, you begin to realise that the parties aren't that different, and that - if you want to view it positively - the things which unite us are greater than those which divide us, or - if you want to view it negatively - they're all much the same.

Focus on the policies. You might find that some people in the conversation go silent; knowledge of the actual policies of various parties is usually a bit dim in general society. Votes are driven more by impression and idealisation and demonisation.

Theresa said...

It's ok, the Buddhists in Tibet can't shut up either.