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Friday, January 24, 2014

How I became an Independent

Anyone who is familiar with my writings knows that I have lived a rather storied life. Beginning at 18, when I left Carondelet High School for the 'big city' of UC Berkeley, I started down a path that ultimately led to my personal destruction. That personal destruction, in turn, led to my rebirth: not a rebirth the evangelicals recognize but one Catholics understand: the grace that was given to me all those years ago through the Sacraments came alive in me as I began to clear the wreckage of my past and let the Sunlight of the Spirit fill up my being. Like St. Augustine, another well known Catholic, I can now rejoice in that which is my very own personal 'Happy Fault". I have been born again only to discover I am now completely comfortable being what I was in the first place - a nice Catholic girl with a wicked sense of humor, an appreciation for the absurd and a love for football.

Many of my past friends are very puzzled by this and often bring up my past. I honestly do not think they are being mean or trying to hurt me. I think they are truly puzzled. How can the girl that did cocaine in the bathroom of the Fab Mab in the 70's, danced the night away dressed as a child vampire at the Hookers' Ball and slept for three days in the Cow Palace parking lot in order to be up front at the Stones concert be a Lay Dominican, Faithful Catholic, Fiscal Conservative and unabashedly Pro Life (and still love the Rolling Stones)?

The simple answer would be that I grew up, that I came to understand that the Truth that was taught to me as I was prepared to receive my First Holy Communion was the only Rock that is worth clinging to in times of trouble.

However, it is more than simply a matter of experience and maturity. A large part of why I no longer consider myself a 'Liberal' is connected to how really mean, really small minded and really nasty so many of the so-called Left have become during my life time.

When I was a child in the 1960's you saw priests and nuns in the forefront of the Civil Rights marches. You saw nuns in the hospitals, caring for the sick and the wounded. You saw priests in military uniforms going into battle and carrying the Sacraments to our men in the field. You saw young Catholics from colleges all across the country going into the South to help register voters.

Not all Catholics were perfect during that time and I do not mean to present them as such. We now know there abuses by at least 4 percent of those priests that were unspeakable and we know that the hierarchy of the Church did not handle those abuses well. We also have a tendency to look at times in history with the lens of today, and so I don't use the term "properly" when discussing how the Church handled child rape in the 1940s or 1950's or 1960s. Nor do I vilify those who believed the lie handed to us by psychiatrists and psychologists that these men can be cured. I understand times were different then and because I was victim of violence and sexual assault in the 1980s, I know how differently victims were perceived and how many people thought they were protecting us by NOT going through the legal system.

No, I am not one of those who claim perfection for the past; rather, what I remember is that those who were on the right side of history were not vile in their speech or actions.

Today, those who CLAIM to be on the right side of history ARE vile in their speech, even when that speech is gentle. They will make statements like, "Why don't Republicans want people to have health care?" which is, of course, akin to asking the question, "Why do all homosexuals beat their partners?". Not only are both statements false, both statements are deliberately provocative and designed to throw the opposition into defense mode rather than addressing the actual problems: how do we provide proper health care to the majority of the population without bankrupting the government and how do we address the rising domestic violence problem among same sex couples?

Recently, my old pastor, Father Joseph Illo, wrote the following about what happens at the annual March for Life in San Francisco:

"I am always struck by the joy and charity of these pro-life marches, filled with young people and their indefatigable optimism. They are like World Youth Days, where two million teens can spend a week in a big city without any crime or disorder. Promoting and living what is proper to our nature brings joy to all, even those gloomy newscasters. The counter-demonstrators, by contrast, are violent, vulgar, obscene, and brutal. We walk in witness to the humanity of the unborn child, but the counter-demonstrators hurl homosexual obscenities at us. Do you get the connection? We talk life, and they talk sex. The counter-demonstrators unwittingly prove the natural link between sex and procreation, the severance of which has led to the killing of 1.2 million lives a year in our country."

If you call yourself pro choice you cannot possibly be proud of the manner if which counter demonstrators (of which there are less and less each year while our numbers grow) behave towards those who hold different views. You cannot possibly defend them any more than genteel Southern Whites were able to defend those thugs that lined the streets of Little Rock and hurled obscene epithets at little black girls, dressed to the nines, trying to go to school. I heard those people try and defend their embarrassing brothers and sisters and it was pathetic. If you are doing the same for those who hurl foul, disgusting language at young girls praying the Rosary as they walk through the city named for a Saint who would throw himself into rose thorns rather than commit sexual sins, you should be ashamed of yourself.

I am an self described independent thinker today because I see no place for me in a 'progressive' political movement. I see no place for me in any movement that refuses to sit down and THINK a problem through together, without vilifying their opposition. I see no place for me in the regular world.

And as far as I am concerned, that is just fine by me.


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