Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Roots of Activism

Greetings, everyone. Birmingham today is overcast and threatening rain. As we are in the middle of a tremendously pervasive drought, anything that falls from the sky in the form of precipitation would be a Godsend. Our neighbor to the east, Atlanta, is even considering rationing water if conditions do not improve drastically. The potable water situation here is not nearly as dire, though it could become much worse. A report that came out a couple months back informed us all that it could be next SPRING before we see any kind of relief.

I did appreciate a much less humid summer than normal and I did appreciate far less mosquitoes than is typical, but nonetheless I'm concerned. This is not good.

I will now decline the opportunity to segue into a discussion about global warming. Whether it be global warming or changing weather patterns, I do know this. Even in my own relatively brief lifespan, I have seen temperatures stay warmer later and become warmer earlier. Though it never snowed here with any sort of frequency, I fully expect I've seen the last of it here. This is a most depressing thought for snow lovers like myself.

Allow me to change the subject, if you will.

An Australian friend read yesterday's post and commented that after reading it, she could understand now why I was possessed with such strong political opinions. My reply was that I always had strong political opinions, but personal situations like those further solidified them. In truth, I grew up in a typically boisterous, opinionated, loud family. We didn't keep our feelings or impressions of any issue to ourselves. Politics and other such serious matters were routine dinner conversation, and emulating my father, we all developed our own personal soapbox issues. Some families talked about the Fall NBC lineup and we talked about communism and current events.

I have a bit of a different viewpoint than many liberal bloggers. I was not raised in a patently liberal, NPR tote bag, Whole Foods family. I can't claim to be the latest in a long line of like-minded thinkers. My mother is a liberal Democrat in her own way, a bit of a radical feminist in her own way, but views are severely tempered by a strong conservative streak. My grumbly Libertarian father could easily be considered an activist in his own way, though he would take great pains to never characterize himself as such. He's a study in contradictions: a member of the local board of Planned Parenthood before I was born and an active defender of Richard Nixon. Even back in the days when Hippies reigned supreme, he defiantly kept his hair short, worked straight jobs, and took a skeptical, Frank Zappa a la We're in It For the Money approach that never hastened to call bullshit on the excesses of Flower Power and Free Love.

A question to all of you out there-- what forces in your own life gave rise to your desire, almost compulsion, to state your opinion openly and with much gravitas? What in your formative years created this sense of you which cries out for justice and change? If you have children, do you consciously try to impart this same sense of urgency amongst your progeny? Why or why not? Discuss.


kimono hime said...

I was raised by an Eastern European Republican Catholic father from the midwest and a Western European Protestant Democrat mother from the west coast. To me, there are always two sides to every coin. Dinner table discussions involved politics, economics, and occasionally religion (usually after dad left the table).

Would you believe these two people have been married for over 40 years and still talk to each other? I don't really talk to my siblings, though. We find it hard to agree on much of anything. Surprise, surprise.

jacqueline said...

My parents were beatniks and they approached parenting with an offhanded manner. They believed we were formed humans with intelligent thoughts from the beginning and with that we should share those thoughts with the world.

Granted they didn't teach me a damn thing about getting your thoughts crushed by others!h

FranIAm said...

Funny you should mention this after I wrote about The Emperor's New Republican today.

For those who did not read my post, my parents were from vastly different backgrounds that both were inclined to produce Dems. I should point out my mom was born in 1914 and my dad in 1920. (me in 1957 for context)

They became - for no clear reason- big time Repubs in the 60's. I know for my dad it was his rebellion against his family. It sure wasn't the money! There was none.

Also dad was a very angry man and he supported any and every war. His approach was to blow the shit out of people (family included) and ask questions later.

So here I am a kid around this and I hooked into it. To my parents' credit, we discussed politics a lot and the importance of reading newspapers and following issues was paramount.

Somewhere around age 12- 1969, I got sucked in by wanting to be a hippie peacenik. Who wouldn't?! The ratty jeans? The fringe jackets? The tye-dye shirts?

Then, because I read, I actually did in my early teens start to realize that I was not a Repub!

Mostly it was the Vietnam war but also Civil Rights. It just made sense to me that peace and justice were better than war and prejudice. Not to oversimplify it, but that was it.

The older I got, the deeper I got into it and here I am today, with 50 less than a month away. Still liberal and progressive.

My parents are gone but my brother and his family are complete wingnuts. I mean I love them but they are wingnut beyond wingnut.

So we just don't discuss it.

There you have it! Great post Kevin!

Tengrain said...

I was raised by GOP lawyers, CK. And while my siblings are all wingnuts and born-again, I went a different way.

I don't think I have a defining moment, though. It just sort of happened organically.



Anonymous said...

I'm from southern bible belt stock. One day in church I saw the light, and it was an "EXIT" sign. I've never looked back.

FranIAm said...

This was a great post and I really liked learning everyone's story. Fascinating.

Thank CK and thanks all!