When I stopped working, one of the things I promised myself was that I would surround myself only with people I really liked, who shared the same passions I did, whose politics matched mine most of the time and who I could be with without having to bite my tongue or filter my thoughts when I was around them.
For the most part, I've been successful in my mission. I spend most of my free time with artistic people who understand that staring into space for an hour trying to come up with the perfect word to rhyme with "mustard" is not to be considered a total waste of my time. It's quite refreshing. Occasionally someone will make a comment that I'm too much of a Pollyanna, still too liberal for my own good, or some such thing that I can usually smile away. Differences are okay with me...it's what makes the world go around and I embrace them.
But not when differences become mean-spirited and just plain nasty. I have two dear cousins I don't see often who choose to communicate with me via email...mostly forwarded jokes. I once thought this was a waste of time, but, hey, it's still keeping in touch, and that's better than losing track of them completely. Or so I'd told myself. They're family, after all. I've noticed over the last year, however, that their emails have become much less humorous and much more political in nature. I read some, just deleted some based on the subject line, even dashed off a couple of emails to them asking them not to send this kind of stuff to me, reminding them that I'd been a liberal Democratic too long and they were not about to convert me now.
This morning I deleted 22 -- yes, 22 -- emails all aimed at convincing me that we're doomed to live in a socialist society, that I'll die before I get an operation I need, that all my freedom is being taken away because troops are coming home, etc.....and believe me, the words I've just typed are extremely tame compared to the language found within these emails that are full of language I can only call nasty, combative, racist, and, what's most alarming of all to me, just plain ignorant.
I'll admit I do tend to look at the glass as half filled. I do look for the good in people. I often give folks the benefit of the doubt. I trust. Sometimes it doesn't work out. But I still have faith in President Obama. He's only had a short period of time to undo mistakes that were made over a very long period of time. I wish more people would take the time to listen, to suggest alternative ideas instead of slinging arrows.
If we wish to be outraged at something, why are we not screaming about the reporter who spent nine months in jail for throwing his boot at then President Bush....he missed him.....while Dick Cheney, certainly responsible for the torture of human beings....is off giving speeches and being honored here and there. Certainly this is more unsettling than someone working hard to try to fix our health care system.
I still have hope I'm not alone in feeling this way.