Monday, October 23, 2017

Why I Think the Way I Do


I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you, Dear Readers, that I think Donald Trump is a complete disaster as president, and that I really don't understand how some people can continue blindly to support him despite all evidence of the kind of person he is, the damage he is doing to the nation, and his complete lack of practical, ethical, and human qualifications for the position.

But one thing I've observed over the years is that one's position on any issue is a result of that person's life and personal experiences. This is why I try my best to understand people who see issues differently - or totally opposite - from the way I do. And so it occurred to me that it might be useful to spend some time in this space explaining to you where I come from, why I think the way I do, and why I'm just absolutely unable to fathom how the greatest country on earth has come to this point.

There's some fairly personal stuff ahead, so I'll understand if you don't want to read it ... you can just come back tomorrow and read some other stuff, and I won't mind a bit. You've been warned ... here we go ...

In a few weeks, I'll be 66 years old (yes, I'm a "boomer," with all the baggage that comes with it). I'm retired (twice), living on my military pension, Social Security, and investments. I've always been fiscally conservative, but living on a fixed income makes it a lot more important to watch the old cash flow. I'm watching the financial news a lot more closely nowadays.

I was born into a middle-class family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My father ran his own business as an advertising illustrator, and my mother stayed at home with us until we were all older; she then went to work, eventually retiring as an executive secretary at an insurance company. My parents were fiscally conservative, strict but fair, and well-educated.

My parents were always polite and considerate of others, and raised us to be the same. I believe in treating everyone with dignity and respect until they show they aren't willing to reciprocate.

And my parents both had marvelous senses of humor - Dad with shaggy dog stories and Mom with puns. I like to think I have a good sense of humor, and I try not to take myself too seriously ... by the same token, I don't think much of those who are full of themselves.

I went to a parochial elementary school and a public high school. Both were completely white ... I had no routine contact with blacks (or any other minority) on a daily basis until I went to college.

My undergraduate degree is in Linguistics, with a minor in German (in which I'm conversationally fluent). I am absolutely convinced of the value of learning a second language as a way of improving one's understanding of the rest of the world.

I served 23 years on active duty in the Air Force, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. One of my brothers retired from the Navy as a Warrant Officer, and the other enlisted in the Army (but didn't make it a career). If your idea of serving the nation consists of wearing L.L. Bean camouflage outfits, owning 30 guns, and running around in the woods waving a Gadsden flag and pretending to defend us against the Big Bad Government, rather than enlisting and serving in the armed forces to face a real enemy, I think your world view is pretty juvenile.

Speaking of serving in the armed forces, I believe it's a great way to expose people to members of other races, ethnicities, and religious beliefs. When your life may depend on being able to work closely with everyone else in your unit, it tends to help bring people together and foster understanding and cooperation.

I earned a Master's degree in International Relations while stationed in Germany. As a result of this education, living abroad, traveling extensively, serving in the Armed Forces, having friends in many foreign countries, and speaking another language, I tend to have a pretty internationalist point of view. Yes, putting America's interests first is important ... but in a world where every other country wants to put its own interests first, we need to learn how to balance our needs, wants, and interests with those of other countries so that - as much as possible - everyone walks away from the table with something.

I'm married to a wonderful lady who is a citizen of Germany and a permanent resident (Green Card holder) of the United States. We went through an amazing amount of time, effort, and bureaucracy to arrange her legal permanent residence, which is why I have no sympathy for those who believe it's all right to enter this country illegally. We are a nation of immigrants ... but we are also a nation of laws, and those who want to come here should be willing to abide by those laws. I'm on record with my proposal for fixing our immigration system ... unless you've got a better idea and are willing to put it out there for comment, just shut up about your stupid wall.

I have three grown children and six marvelous grandchildren. I care very much about the quality of the world that they will inherit, so if you're in favor of ignoring the science about climate change, if you support rolling back the regulations that have helped to give us breathable air, clean water, and safe foods and medicines, and if you refuse to vaccinate your children against disease, sorry - I think you're a fool.

I no longer adhere to any particular religious belief, because too many people who do have conspired to drive me away with their intolerance and (sorry) holier-than-thou attitude. It might be nice if some people could get back to something as simple as the old Golden Rule, rather than using their rigid religious beliefs as a club with which to beat those who believe differently.

Well, that's enough for now. Those are a few of the life experiences that have shaped my opinions and beliefs, and which may help you better understand why I rant the way I do on particular topics. What shapes your beliefs and political positions? I hope it's not some shouting head on Faux News or Infowars.com, or the latest lame-brained tweet from someone in high office. Leave a comment and let us know what sorts of things shape your approach to life.

Have a good day and a good week to come. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

7 comments:

John Hill said...

Thank you for sharing your story.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Yes, thanks for sharing. It puts your views in clear context.

Mike said...

I'm still working on my undergraduate degree. It's been on hold for .... a long time.

Mariette said...

Thanks for telling your story.

allenwoodhaven said...

Being one of your regulars, I knew some things about you but this filled in gaps and was much more detailed. Thanks for sharing!

Our views are certainly shaped by our experiences. As for me, I grew up near a small city in upstate NY. My mother was a nurse but stopped to raise us four children. My father was a newspaper publisher for the local paper and several generations were in the business with one paper or another. I went to public school then a private high school in MA. College was a B.A. in psychology and a M.Ed in counseling. I've lived FL briefly, MA for 25 years, and now NJ for 12. For 35+ years I've worked in mental health, in direct care, with children, teens, and adults in inpatient and outpatient settings. I've taught basic (nonviolent) self defense and restraint (in hospital settings) for 15 years. I believe that everyone has problems (of some sort, it's a matter of degree) and everyone deserves compassion. That includes accepting people as they are at any given moment and accepting that everyone has their own legitimate point of view.

Well, that may be more than you wanted to know, but you got to know it anyway!

The Hills said...

Bill for President!

roth phallyka said...

It puts your views in clear context.


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