Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Odd Man Out

Alone on A Limb

What I write below is very serious and important to me. I promise that all my blogs will not be political in nature, but I love my country and cannot ignore issues like those I discuss below. If this bothers you, my blog may not be for you.

"You do not become a "dissident" just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility..."

OK, I don't fear for my life at family reunions. But I am the family dissident. So, another quote, this time from EDWARD R. MURROW:
"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it."

I am alone among my siblings. We are a big, loving, hugging, boisterous, generally strong-willed bunch. Five sisters, two brothers and my mother. We vacation together almost every year with our spouses and children and even grandchildren. We usually get along well.

Like the rest of the country, though, we are split by politics. Unfortunately for me, however, our family is not split down the middle: all five sisters, my brother, and my mother have become very conservative Republicans. I am the the odd man out.

I am a Democrat.

I love the founding documents of our country.
I revere the founding fathers.
I believe in civil rights for all.
I believe dissent is a responsibility of citizenship.

I believe in the separation of church and state as being best for both.
I believe our government should protect minority rights.
I believe that we have a cultural heritage that should not be denied or ignored. The Christian faith is a huge part of that heritage.
I believe also that we must be more sensitive than our fathers to the fact that many loyal Americans are not Christian.

I believe in stringent environmental protection.
I believe that the government should, for the public good, provide good roads, a strong national defense, effective emergency management, outstanding public schools, basic housing and food for the poorest among us, support for the arts, good public broadcasting, mass transit in cities, inter-city and cross-country passenger rail service, for starters.

I believe the activities, associations, living arrangements, or lifestyles of adults should concern the government only if it interferes with the life, liberty, property or health of others.
I believe no person, however stupid or misguided, should be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

I believe in our right as a people to covenant together to provide universal health care to our citizens.
I believe those of us who, through some combination of intelligence, hard work, learned skills, and good fortune, have been financially well-rewarded should pay the largest part of the expenses to provide the services and protections I have described.

I believe torture is always wrong and incredibly stupid and any president or vice president or other official who advocates relaxing that rule cannot be trusted with the powers of his/her office.
I believe all persons are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I believe we should go to war only when there is a clear national interest that can be protected no other way and when there is a strong consensus among the people to support the war.
I believe that lying, exaggerating, or hyping information in order to take our country to war is a high crime.

I therefore believe the current occupant of the White House is right out there with Richard Nixon and James Buchanan in the race for the most dangerous President of all time. With the right wing in total control of all three branches of government, a major "news" network, an intricate right-wing "religious" political consortium, and a huge talk-show echo chamber, it isn't likely to be practical to impeach him. He deserves it.

A final quote, this time from a Nazi, HERMANN GOERING:
"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Probably most of the folks who visit this blog (if anyone does) will be my family. Except for my wife and daughters, I expect my family will disagree with me. I'm sorry I'm alone out on this limb of our family tree. But I've been pushed out here by my "personal sense of responsibility". To abandon my limb while I have these beliefs would be cowardly and unpatriotic.

I hope my wonderful family will at least understand me better for what I write here.

I welcome brief polite comments in support or disagreement. Those who have long responses should post links to their own blogs in a brief comment. I will delete any impolite comments.


  1. You know I respectfully disagree with you. So I won't even go into that. However, I am impressed with your first post. You present your feelings and opinions well. I love you. Welcome to the world of blogging.

  2. Janice5:26 PM

    I'm thrilled that you are writing a blog and that through this medium, we can hear your ideas. You are so dearly loved, valued and appreciated -- however much we disagree with some of your beliefs and values. I hope you know that I respect your right to hold views that are different from mine. I wish I were smart enough and well-informed enough to persuade you to a different point of view on some of your beliefs. Others, we don't disagree that much or the issue is not that central anyway. Most of all, I don't want you to feel alienated or isolated -- you are too essential to our happiness and joy!!! I love you dearly!

  3. Terry, welcome to the world of blogging. I echo the sentiment of your sisters above. You are a very special person and I appreciate you. Your views are different from mine but that is the wonderful thing about our country and this family. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts. You may be on a different limb but you are not in the tree alone!!

  4. Hey! I didn't know you were a blogger, now! I enjoyed visiting your site and have marked it on my favorites!
    Love you!

  5. You have to admit, that guy at the top of this post looks like a pretty odd man -- out alone on a limb! Thanks, Lil, for taking my picture.

  6. I believe you at least have 3 gorgeous blonds out on that limb with you!

    BTW I am surprised at the dis-ease I experience at seeing myself linked with the "they" and "them" of your post. I am not sure I belong there. Actually, I find it very disquieting to find us being discussed in terms of "us" and "them."

    You express your beliefs and concerns very succinctly and fervently. Although I genuinely HATE political disucssions, I appreciate reading your well-thought-out and well-expressed political and philosophical statements.

  7. Love the picture of you "alone on a limb". Did you pose for that for the blog, or did you just happen to already have one of you standing on a limb???

  8. Thanks, all of you for your comments.

    Jan: I hope our values are, at least in most cases, similar. I think our differences have to do with our beliefs about how to promote, protect, or express those values. For example, I know those who would outlaw abortion dislike hearing those on the other side say "We oppose abortion, but...:"
    But :-) that is exactly the case. Abortion, especially late-term, is a horrible thing to contemplate. I want to do everything short of outlawing abortion to reduce the incidence of it. But I put the value we share of a woman's right to control her own body above the value we share that an unborn baby should be protected. I would plead with my own daughters not to contemplate an abortion, except in the case of rape, incest, or a threat to my daughter's life.

    Jane, I love your line: "You may be on a different limb but you are not in the tree alone!!" Great line! Thanks.

    Joan: I try not to think in "us and them" terms, and I don't think I wrote the post that way. My positions are mostly very moderate if you can believe the polls, so I'd be shocked if any of my family disagree with all of them. Some of you will agree with most of them. But the big issue is whether George W. Bush led us into war unnecessarily. I believe he did, and that he "hyped" the intelligence to do it. Unless I am mistaken, all of my siblings, in one way or another have indicated they voted for Bush, so we must think differently on that vital question.
    I do think the country is more terribly split than at any other point in my lifetime, and I do think George Bush is the primary culprit. He squandered the paradoxical opportunity that the horrible attacks of 2001 gave us: a dynamic and thoughtful leader could have united our country and the world against terrorism.

    Carol: I probably did little to bolster respect for my opinions in the blogging community when I climbed the walnut tree this afternoon, in my Sunday suit, to pose for a picture, but that's what I did. Lillian is the photographer.

    This got long. I need to find a better way to respond to comments, I guess.

    Thanks, again. I love and respect each of you.

  9. Hey Pop! When did you start publishing your blogs? This is so strange... Ha. Hey! Aunt Joan is right. I'm out on your limb. And you'll never be too liberal for me:)

  10. Anonymous10:52 AM

    So I am not alone in this tiny Ga. town. I am unable to speak with my family for more than a few glossy moments, Conservative republicans are they all. No room for differences.