I've been thinking the last couple days about politics. Not any political event in particular, but about my own politics. I read a lot of political blogs, as can be seen from my blogroll, but I rarely post on political subjects any more.
Almost two years ago, when I first started reading blogs, I was reading a rather different set than I am now. I think the first blogger I read regularly was Andrew Sullivan, and through him I got connected to blogs of rightward or libertarian bents. Virginia Postrel and Eve Tushnet were some early ones whom I still read, but there are some others -- Steven den Beste, Tim Blair, Charles Oliver -- that I haven't been to in ages. When you look at the ones I dropped and the ones I've added, you can see two definite trends: leftward and Christian. The fact that I wound up here at notfrisco seems somehow inevitable.
I grew up in the left. My family is of the liberal secular-humanist coastal intelligentsia that a lot of conservatives like to revile. And in northern California in the '70s and '80s, the '60s left was still definitely present. I always identified with the left, but as I got older I became disaffected with it in various ways, especially the '60s part.
When I moved to L.A. I got really detached from that background. Partly because of the environment in which I work, but the 9/11 attacks also had a certain conservatizing effect on me, as they did on a lot of people I guess. Nothing like a sense of threat from a mysterious, alien enemy to drive you in that direction. But it's not like I ever really became a conservative either; I was just sort of ... nowhere.
Although Telford probably wouldn't like this fact, since he's a Republican, I think knowing him and this whole Christian adventure he's leading me on is not unconnected to the leftward drift in my blog reading. One thing it's done is to reconnect me with my heart, and I've found that it still bleeds. I want to help the poor, I want to find peaceful resolutions, I want prisoners to be protected from abuse and I want animals to be treated humanely. I really do think we should learn more about people in other cultures and what grieves them, without thinking attacks on us are somehow our own fault. I believe the sexes have more in common than they differ, and I think most gay people are not out to destroy society and should not be made to suffer for their loves.
Having said all that, I still don't feel like I'm back squarely in the left camp. For one thing, I have doubts about how many of my ideals can be achieved by governmental means. (This is not just a problem I have with liberalism -- I have doubts about some rightists' grand plans to remake the Middle East too.) Most of these things are matters of cultural attitude, and they are probably best achieved by persuasion rather than fiat, even though fiat is quicker and more satisfying. Also, though I personally admire pacifism, I understand it's dubious as government policy. I think that's part of why approaching it from a religious rather than a political angle appeals to me. Maybe that's the more appropriate venue.
Secondly, I don't identify tribally with the left any more. When I read some of the more spirited leftist blogs, like Body and Soul, Electrolite or that of my own virtual landlord, I admire the moral passion but I see a kind of Manichaean partisan identification that I just don't have any more. It's not something I could debate with them by marshalling facts and evidence, it's just something that's come from my life experience. Partly because I've come to know people to the right of me, attending one of those reviled evangelical churches. But I think also because my moral identification of myself is not really political.
I sometimes wonder, as I did during my exchange with Teresa Nielsen Hayden a while ago, if I'm turning a blind eye to things and I should get more politically active. But I think right now I'm working more on trying to get my own life aligned with my ideals, before I try to proselytize them to others. The last thing I want to be is one of those people who rails against the environmental policies and oil interests of George Bush before driving off in her SUV. Get the plank out of your own eye before taking the speck out of someone else's, as a smart person once said.Posted by Camassia at June 26, 2003 06:52 PM | TrackBack