Thursday, January 24, 2013

I May Be Different From You

Update:  When I originally wrote this post, I identified myself as a Christian.  And while the message of Christ is still central to how I live my life and the decisions I have made, I have prayed long and hard after receiving hurtful, inflammatory, belittling, degrading messages from the so-called "Christian" community and decided that in good Christian conscience, I can not identify myself as a Christian any longer.  Being a Christian now means being anti-so many things that Jesus stood for and expressed that I just can not do it any longer.  So take your self-righteousness and your absurd interpretation of the Bible and get lost!  Congratulations, Christian Right, you are losing members at a fast pace!
I echo Anne's sentiments found here:  Anne Rice

Lately I have been feeling like I don't have anything to share in this space.  I had signed up for Wordpress hosting and canceled it and got my money back.  I have been feeling like I don't belong in the homeschool blog world.  I live in the Northeast, our homeschool community tends to be secular, inclusive, accepting and open, but I don't find those things so much in the homeschool blog world.

I started this blog because we were considering homeschooling and I was reading homeschool blogs and I wanted to comment, but I wanted the bloggers to have something to link back to so they would  know I was not a crazy stalker.  Some of the homeschool bloggers were the first homeschoolers I ever "met" or really got to know.  I have appreciated your friendship.  I have learned from you and grown as a woman, a mother and a home educator because of what you shared.  Thank you.

But none of you really know me.  You only know what I share.  There have been a lot of things about me, about my life and my worldview, the way I parent, the way I think about things that have never seemed relevant to share in this space.  I feel social media can be so divisive and I did not want my blog to be part of that.  But, I have encountered bloggers whose actions were inconsistent with how they portrayed themselves on their blog, and I don't want anyone to say that of me.  I worry that by not sharing those things that are a big part of who I am, I am misleading readers.  Is it misleading to just omit things that don't seem relevant to the topics of homeschooling, homemaking & family life?  I wonder if you knew these things about me, would you just stop reading my blog?  Would you want me to not comment on your blog?  Would you want me to stop following you on social media?  In all honesty, I am fine with those things because I would rather be honest than have you think something of me that is not true.

I never meant to mislead anyone, it just is not always relevant to the topics of homeschooling, parenting, family life and homemaking to talk about politics or religion.  I was raised Roman Catholic.  I have a solid understanding of the Bible, in a scriptural context as well as a historical context.  I think Jesus had an incredible message of love and understanding, acceptance and peace.  It upsets me how many people use the message of Jesus to divide and judge and I won't align myself with them.  I have also grown in my spirituality when I have read the writings of the Dalai Lama or the teachings of Muhammed or Buddha.  I think it is all inextricably woven together in a way we may not understand, but I don't believe in discrediting any of it in favor of another.

I am liberal, in my political views, my spiritual beliefs and my parenting style.  I have been politically active for most of my adult life, working in grassroots organizations, writing letters and even attending protests and marches.  In college and even in high school, my friends and I were what you would call "crunchy" or "granola".  Barefoot, faded jeans, long hair...we revered the freedom marches of the sixties and wished we could have gone to college then.  We never talked about superficial things, we spent long hours having deep conversations; ours were friendships that were deep, meaningful, emotional and lifelong.  Some of my views have changed since then, especially my views on working mothers and raising children, but for the most part, my friends and I are still the same people we were then.
Photo credit: Anything war can do peace can do better

This is something you don't know about me: I have been a gay rights activist since I was 18 years old.  My closest friend in high school and college, who is my daughter's godfather and one of the most loving, giving, beautiful people I have the privilege to call friend is homosexual.  We were both raised in conservative families.  My friend attempted suicide before he came out to me.  It took him 18 months of writing letters and ripping them up before he finally was able to come out to me--I have always felt honored to be the first person he came out to.  Homosexuality is no more a choice than eye color or handedness.   

Our children sometimes ask us questions that we are not prepared to answer and sometimes we struggle to find the words.  The moment I am most proud of as a parent was when Allie was three and she was very egocentric and she believed all adults should be married and have children, she asked why Uncle S (my dear friend since high school and college who is a big part of her life) was not married.  Without thinking, without missing a beat, I answered from my heart and my answer is something I am proud of to this day, "Uncle S and Uncle P love each other like they were married," I told her.  And she marched off to play, totally accepting that love is never wrong.  I am so happy that I had those words that day.  It was a defining moment in my parenthood and one that I am most proud of.

Maybe you think I am wrong to raise my girls that way.  I would rather raise my girls to accept people and form their own opinions about them, than to hear my girls criticize someone and know that I influenced them in that way.  

We  talk about values, our girls know right from wrong, they each have a wonderful conscience, we believe in raising our girls to be open to all people.  Jason and I are raising our girls to accept all people, regardless of their religious or political views, skin color, their sexual orientation, their strengths and weaknesses.  We don't want our girls to judge or criticize others, we want them to approach people who are different from them as someone they can learn from.  Maybe what they learn will change their mind about something, maybe it won't; but we want them to live their lives with an open mind and an open heart.   I have never gone wrong when I approached someone with an open heart and an open fact, it has lead to some of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I approached your posts on conservativism with an open mind.  I wanted to learn and understand.  I wanted to challenge my own views.  Sometimes it is in challenging our own views that we grow the most.  I was open to it all.  Although I grew up in a fairly conservative home, I have identified myself as a liberal or a progressive for my entire adult life.  I believed in the promise of Hope and Change in 2007 and I woke my girls up to watch Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2007 and we celebrated his inauguration. While I agree with and support some of the things this administration has done, I don't necessarily agree with everything this administration stands for and so I read your posts, I thought about it, I read Ann Coulter's books, and Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck's books, I listened to Andrew Wilkow and Sean Hannity (I was turned off by Rush years ago, sorry).  I will be honest, I found there to be a lot of aggressiveness, a lot of negativity and that kind of behavior always leaves me feeling unsettled.  I will also say that I love my conservative governor, Chris Christie, in part for his aggressiveness and I plan to vote for him for any office he wants to hold.

Politics are complicated and multi-layered, they are not black and white.  I've found that I have conservative views with regard to some things, like affirmative action, education, homeland security, immigration, the death penalty, private property ownership and welfare; I like the idea of smaller government in some areas and I believe in fiscal responsibility.  But in areas such as the economy, taxes, same sex marriage, energy, global warming, labor unions and healthcare, I am more liberal; I believe Jesus calls on us to take care of the less fortunate; greed is inherent in the human condition and I support government regulation; I believe God gave us a beautiful earth and it needs to be cared for and respected, not polluted for material gain.  I am part of the Christian Left.

It upsets me when I hear or read people assume that liberals are socialists or that they don't care about unborn babies; liberals see these issues as being complicated.  I will not align myself with politicians who say that if a woman becomes pregnant because of rape it was an act of God.  I read the Bible, Jesus doesn't feel that way about women, therefore I don't think God does either.  Thankfully, I have never walked in that woman's shoes and I can not judge her.

When I come across a blog post with things I don't agree with, I could post my opinion but I realize homeschool and family life blogs are not the place for political arguments and I move on; political blogs are a different story, where I will post my opinion and get into a discussion.  If over time, there is a lot I find offensive on homeschool or family life blogs, I will stop reading the blog or following the person on Twitter. I have turned off comments on this post.  If you don't like what I said and you can't accept me for who I am, do us both a favor and stop reading my blog, stop following me on Twitter, unfriend me on social media.

This blog has become a means to chronicle our family's journey, it's really for our family. While I do have a statcounter on my blog, I have never worried about numbers; since I share photos of my kids, I want to know who is reading my blog and where they are reading it from, in an effort to protect my family.  I am not concerned about the number of followers I have, I would rather be true to my beliefs and have less followers and be authentic than try to be something I am not in order to gain followers.