Skip navigation

Category Archives: Convictions and Beliefs

Being a “conservative” means a lot of different things to me.  It describes my preference in government, my lifestyle, even the way I dress.  But today I want to bring attention to people who are calling themselves politically conservative, yet not living the lifestyle that they purport to believe in.

Last November, I found myself recovering from reconstructive ankle surgery on my mother’s couch.  I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything for almost a month, so the internet became my very best friend.  After reading everything there was to read, playing all the games I had the energy to play, and chatting with everyone who would listen, I found myself on Twitter.

I’d had a Twitter account for at least a year, but never really “got it.”  But this time, I found a group of youngsters (ranging in age from 20-30) who work in D.C. for various political entities, all seeming to be the frontrunners in the world of conservative political media and the “who’s who” of #TCOT.  What a fun bunch!  I shared their interests and beliefs and truly enjoyed talking to them at length.

Somewhere between then and now, the associations spread to even lesser acquaintances of theirs, and my group of followers turned into a mix of all ages and walks of life.  As in real life, I began to notice a few things that I truly dislike in people: young women throwing themselves at men or exhibiting “attention-seeking behavior” (think making out with another girl at a frat party), rumors or even confirmations of people sleeping around, requests for provocative photos, men completely objectifying women, married men openly flirting, and even married men flirting with me.

I do not associate with these sort of people in everyday life, and I finally had to make the decision to not associate with them online as well.  I have been interested in men who I think are great guys, only to find out that they drunkenly slept with one of my good friends.  It is so very disappointing – the man you thought was virtuous took advantage of the situation, and your friend can’t make a good decision either.  I know that they are both single, and can do as they wish and that’s fine – it’s just disappointing and rules him out of the dating pool for me, as well as lessens my female friend in my eyes.  I don’t form friendships with married men unless their wife is a part of the friendship as well.  I rarely have sex outside of an established relationship, and I don’t unabashedly flirt with men unless I know I’m the only one he’s interested in. I don’t expect everyone to subscribe to my way of life, and Lord knows that I am not perfect and I have slipped up my fair share of times, but I am aware of my flaws and actively try not to repeat my mistakes.  Above all, I know that by having this sort of romantic life, I don’t have to worry about hurting anyone, especially myself.

Back to my initial point – on a very basic level, this is the behavior that Conservative politicians get skewered for.  Infidelity, exchanging photos with women, etc, and you certainly never heard of Condi Rice flirting with a married man.  It’s ten times worse for the conservative party because we are supposed to uphold the virtues of marriage, be good Christians, revere women, and overall just NOT do this type of thing!  These are our future lobbyists, campaign managers, speech writers, journalists, and possibly even leaders.  We cannot hold our leaders to a higher standard than we hold ourselves.  They may believe in small government and fiscal conservatism, but that seems to be where their conservative beliefs end.  Do you really want this type of behavior to be associated with the conservative party?

The local Young Republican branches here are riddled with some questionable morals as well.  The social director of the YR group in my county openly brags to his friends about getting blow jobs in parking lots and taking women home from bars (even if it’s not true, women should not be spoken of in this manner), and another group’s leadership includes women who go home with strangers from bars.  So there is yet another place that I can’t in good conscience associate with like-minded people.  Don’t even get me started on the fact that the majority of young attendees of CPAC see it as an opportunity to get plastered and hook up.

At last, after actually being quite hurt by some of the behavior mentioned above, I have deleted my Twitter account.  I do miss it – I miss getting news updates through the eyes of fellow conservatives.  I miss having someone to talk to when I can’t sleep.  But I don’t miss being constantly disappointed by my peers.  In time, I hope to move past all this disappointment and find some true (trruuuuuuue) conservatives that lead virtuous lives and set a better example for the type of leaders I hope to elect.  Meanwhile, I ask my #tcot readers – are you really living a conservative life?

I’ve wanted to write this for over a year now, but summarizing the core values that are at the very heart of your being, and putting them into words is a rather daunting task.  But it’s on my list of 43 Things, and it would be nice to check another one off.  If you’ve never heard of This I Believe, it’s an idea based on a radio show from the 50s, in which notable people would write an essay about “the core values that guide their daily lives,” and then read them on air.  On their website, you can listen to the essays (read by the author) of people like Helen Keller, Jackie Robinson, Oscar Hammerstein, Maria Von Trapp, and even Albert Einstein.  Hearing the deepest beliefs of such influential people is a pretty damned cool thing.  So I decided to write my own (narrowed down to a few key subjects).  I was afraid that my beliefs would change over time, but what’s important to note is that these are your core values, and really they shouldn’t change very much over time.  I will say that trying to sum things up into a short essay is very difficult, so I will just do a few topics right now.  Perhaps in another year I will write on a few more.  So…here goes nothing:

My interest in politics is rooted in my passion for basic human decency, self-pride, justice, honor, family, morals, charity, and of course, democracy.  This conservatism was already in my heart long before I was old enough to know what a government is, and I learned these ideals from my parents.  I believe that the root of all decency is in a good family life.  Parents have the ultimate responsibility – creating and molding a life that will contribute to our society.  Involved parents breed good students, and good parents create more good parents by their example.  My parents* taught me good manners, honesty, how to be a hard worker, how to live within my means, and how to help others.  It is often painfully obvious who grew up without good role models.  At the funeral of a friend’s father a few years ago, I learned that he was a very loving man, and that one of his beliefs was that “the greatest gift you can give your children is to love their mother.”  This sentiment truly touched me – he and his wife were still very much in love after decades of marriage.  His sons (who by the way, were not his biological sons), learned how to treat a woman and show love through his example.  In a world where most men still view love as a weakness, I truly value this lesson, and I seek it in my relationships (platonic and romantic) with the opposite sex.  Fathers have a great responsibility to teach their sons how to be good men, and to teach their daughters what to look for in a mate.  Mothers are the example of womanhood to their daughters, and set the example of a future wife for their sons.  Together, the parents show their children the inner workings of a relationship, and it is repeated through the subsequent generations.

I believe that it is better to be kind than to be right.  The best example of this is during an argument.  Being passionate about values and politics, I could potentially get in a lot of arguments with the people I care about.  But I care about them – I would never want to say anything to make them feel badly.  But some people often throw out insults such as “that’s stupid,” “you’re crazy,” and the like.  I cannot imagine insulting the intelligence and sanity of another person, especially one that I care about.  It is perfectly possible to prove a point without resorting to insults.  It’s also possible to not insist on proving a point at all.  People will believe what they believe, and one conversation is not going to change their mind – certainly not one riddled with insults.  If being right means knocking someone else down, or crushing their belief system, perhaps it’s not so important to be right.  We are all very different.  It is impossible for someone to think exactly as you do.  We all have a different frame of reference, different experiences, and different influences that have brought us to this very point.  Forcing beliefs on others has never been successful.  Perhaps you could just listen, and appreciate the beliefs and ideas of another human being – even if they are vastly different from your own.

* I feel it is important to point out here that my parents divorced when I was 15, and yet they were still able to successfully co-parent (and still do!).

I was never any good at saying “I’m sorry.”  As a kid, I just never got in trouble.  My mother spanked me ONCE in my entire life (for coloring on the walls after she had asked me repeatedly not to).  I never got suspended, or written up.  I remember being grounded once – I skipped school and my mom caught me (of course) and I was accordingly punished.  The second and only other memorable time that I got in trouble (as a kid) was on a band trip to the Texas coast, where my pal Kristin and I had invited two boys to our room after midnight.  Don’t look so shocked!  We just played with a Ouija board, and the Ouija board told David that he was looking forward to a future in gynecology.  David was pleased.  In any case,  we got busted by the sponsors (parents) and I was again punished accordingly.  So with only three notable punishments until the age of 18, I was on my own with no experience in apologies because I rarely had a need to.

Come to find out, I probably needed to apologize more than I realized.  But this is in the past, and nothing good comes of dwelling on the past.

In any case, in having to learn the art of a sincere apology, I have had to learn to accept one as well.  Learning to forgive and forget has been by far the most difficult lesson of all, but also the most rewarding.  Intertwined in this lesson is learning when it’s appropriate to forgive, and when it is appropriate to move on with your life, sans one person.  For a while, dropping people that I didn’t care for was my M.O.  I even bragged about it.  I adopted the line (thanks to an old friend), “I’ve got enough friends, I don’t have to deal with someone that is anything less than what I want.”  It makes sense on the surface, but looking deeper, most people deserve a second chance.

My current theory?  The punishment should be proportionate to the offense.  What good does it do you to hold grudges and remain angry?  In my experience, it makes me a very unhappy, unfulfilled person.  Granted, there are some people and situations that you just don’t want in your life.  My pet peeve is demanding, pushy personalities.  If you don’t like that I can’t (won’t) spend 3 days a week with you, I’m not the person for you.  If I’ve told you no once, asking me again and again will quickly push me away.  We all have things that we know we can’t deal with.  Even so, these grievances don’t equal an enemy in my book, you just won’t be my number one.

No, I still can’t school anyone in the art of an apology.  I can tell a good friend from a bad one, I can tell you when to cut someone loose and when to give them a cautious second chance.  I can tell you to be sincere, and hope for the best but understand if your apology is not accepted.  I can tell you to be calm and never make sudden moves (sleep on it, as I like to say).  Never be hateful, no matter how much you are provoked.  Take the high road, etc… I’m a firm believer in what goes around comes around, and one day when you have to ask for forgiveness, your forgiving nature may be rewarded in kind.

I have been accused of being “too nice” many times, as if there were such a thing.   There are much worse things to be accused of, I suppose.  What scares me, is that the accusers seem to think that my generosity is a flaw, and have the audacity to criticize me for my actions or sometimes poke fun at them.  If you know me at all, you know I’m anything but a bleeding heart.  Might the criticism be to cover your own guilt for not acting in kind?

These “nice” things really aren’t putting me out – no one is sleeping on my couch (except me when I crash watching tv), and I rarely give money away unless it’s for a good cause that I have researched thoroughly.  We’re talking about things like picking up my trash at the movie theater – my date says, “What do you do that for?  They pay people to do that!”  Not that I should have to give anyone a reason, but it’s as simple as “because I can.”  Bonus: it makes someone’s life a little easier (it can’t be fun to pick up trash at a movie theater for minimum wage, I don’t care how young you are).  Going further, perhaps movies wouldn’t be so damn expensive if they didn’t have to pay extra personnel to clean up after able-bodied movie-goers.  It seems silly to NOT clean up your own trash if you ask me.

Perhaps the only negative things to come of being “too nice” is that I acquire some strange acquaintances, and sometimes others abuse my patience.  I’ve been known to hang out with some rather socially awkward people, thinking that they just need a chance, or they’re not that bad.  I’m usually wrong about that… As a rule, I am not nice enough to handle social awkwardness or anyone being rude.  Apparently not everyone has the same tolerance that I do.  I don’t want to be known as “the girl that invited the weirdo.” *cough*Bora*cough*

I read somewhere once “It is better to be kind than to be right.”  I wish I could attribute the quote to someone, but I haven’t been able to locate it.  I want to say it’s from a Richard Carlson Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff book, but I’m not sure.  How true is this?  I know there are some who disagree, but really what pleasure do you get out of being right?  I only get pleasure from it when someone is being obnoxious and petty trying to prove their point of view.  Other than that, there are very few situations where pointing out when someone is wrong is imperative (wrong altitude on a plane, someone believes that doing meth is good for his health, etc.).  It’s kind of like tattling.  Is it going to hurt this person to keep believing this?  No?  Let it be.  Live and let live.  No sense in making that person feel bad.  They’ll figure it out eventually.

Anyhoo, back to my actions…what’s the big deal if I want to go a little out of my way for someone else?  I’ve always believed that good things happen to good people.  Pay it forward, what goes around comes around, Karma, all that stuff.  It may not be true, but if it is, I think I’ll be set.  Think about it: how much of an imposition is it to you if you help a woman with a fussy baby unload her grocery cart at the checkout?  What does it hurt to say “I’m sorry” instead of “excuse me?”  If you know something to be untrue, but in the interest of avoiding an argument, you keep quiet?  Or if you see someone drop a whole pile of papers, how can you just walk by?  What does it cost you to smile at a stranger that looks like he’s having a rough day, or to be genuinely friendly to a cashier?  How much are you going to be set back if you leave extra room for someone to merge in front of you on a crowded highway, or if you let someone with only a few items go ahead of you at the store?  Thirty seconds maybe? If you are financially stable, isn’t it worth a few extra bucks to pick up a friend’s dinner – ooh better yet, a stranger’s dinner.  I could come up with ideas for days…

Making others’ lives easier makes me feel good.  Perhaps if you don’t criticize me for it, you will be a recipient one day.

As always, if you are viewing this on Facebook, it looks much better in its original form.

Grace

1. elegance and beauty of movement or expression; “a beautiful figure which she used in subtle movements of unparalleled grace”

2. seemliness: a sense of propriety and consideration for others

It has taken me most of my life to learn this thing called “grace.”  It never even occurred to me that I had it until someone told me that I handled a situation with more grace than he could ever hope to have.  I certainly was not born with it; grace had to be learned the hard way (as have most lessons truly worth learning).  A lifetime of overreactions, road rage, tantrums, throwing things across the room,  and stomping my feet (yes stomping my feet) when things didn’t go my way had finally segued to thinking before acting, calmness, and this thing I like to call “sleeping on it.”  I’m not going to say that I always do the right thing, but it has made me much more aware of people who act on their emotions and thus burn some very important bridges that could have taken them somewhere really special.

The easiest example that comes to mind is rejection.  Rejection sucks.  We all know it.  We’ve all experienced it in all sorts of forms – interviews, school applications, love, friendship…hell even a pet can reject you.  So when you’re rejected you have the choice between grace and bridge-burning.  Let’s play it out:

“Hey Tim, I really like you.  Would you like to go out sometime?”

“Well, I’m actually seeing someone right now.  I think you’re really nice but I just can’t.”

Bridge-burn: “What the hell?  You’ve been flirting with me for months!!  It’s because I’m fat, isn’t it?”  Then you completely avoid Tim, severing any kind of friendship you had.  Tim feels like a jerk and is completely uncomfortable around you.

Grace: “Oh jeez!  That’s great!  I’m so embarrassed…well best of luck…”  Then when some time has passed, you and Tim are back to being friends.  He introduces you to some of his cute friends, he remembers how mature you were and recommends you highly.  OR – things don’t work out with the other chick and he can’t wait to see how things will turn out with you since you were so cool when he had to turn you down.

The same thing is true with most things in life – you get turned down for one job, but maybe a month from now the interviewer has a friend at another company that needs someone with your exact set of skills.  Your wife comes home from work in a terrible mood and is rude to you – you can react and be rude right back, or you can give her some time to calm down and ask her if she wants to talk later, maybe even confront her about how rude she was.

Luckily I have had some good influences over the last few years that showed me what it’s like to be graceful in a tough situation.  Unfortunately, I’ve been at the receiving end of some not-so-graceful behavior as well.  After my experiences of the last year and the experiences of my friends,  I’ve decided the worst part of dating is having to tell someone that it’s not going to work out.  You just never know how they are going to react.  For me, hearing those words is a blessing, a relief of sorts.  Being honest is a good thing.  I’d much rather have someone tell me that he isn’t into me than to just stop calling, or worse – keep up the facade until I come to the same conclusion (that’s also known as dishonesty by the way).  Sure, it sucks and it’s disappointing, but isn’t the alternative much worse?  For some, that kind of honestly is SO disappointing that they become hurtful and mean.  These people burn bridges without thinking, and lose the respect of their peers in short order.

Food for thought: In a game of chess, you have to think 2, 3, or even 4 moves ahead.  If you do the same with your relationships and the choices you make every day, chances are people will notice.  Practice grace in all that you do.