I feel like I’ve spent most of my life trying to be understood. I am the youngest of three boys and my parents were probably just exhausted by the time I arrived on the scene. So as long as I wasn’t crying I guess that everyone assumed I was just fine. And the kind of attention that my brother Dean was getting (spankings and lectures) wasn’t really what I was looking for anyway. So I learned to be quiet and ‘fly under the radar’. Not always a bad idea. But it’s hard to get your point across when you’re silent.
I remember raising my hand in class (until my arm was tired) at Saint Peter Elementary School, oh so many years ago, and rarely being called on. I guess I wasn’t very good at getting the teachers’ attention either. It really wasn’t until high school that I got much notice at school and it usually wasn’t the ‘good kind’. It’s not that I didn’t have friends; I just wasn’t that interesting. But when given the opportunity, I could speak articulately and most often get my point across. I just needed (waited for) permission to speak.
That has all changed. And to me it seems like it was gradual but Deb thinks that I have ALWAYS spoken my mind and that I have ALWAYS made my point (I believe beat a dead horse is the expression that she uses). But I know that it was her love and respect and approval that helped me to become the man that I am today. She has given me confidence because she has listened to me when others didn’t (wouldn’t). And she is the kindest of critics – gently suggesting that I might be wrong about some things (as if…). And teaching me that you can be right and still not always be able to ‘get your point across’ if you are bombastic and obnoxious about it. She has this innate ability to ‘win people over’. It’s called gentle persuasion. Unfortunately patience is required and I often lack that precious commodity. Still I have learned from her and now I can state an opinion without alienating everyone in the room usually. Well maybe only sometimes.
Debbie lives with the credo that “one should never discuss politics or religion” in social settings. That doesn’t leave me much to talk about because those are my two favorite topics (after my grandchildren, of course). So I often struggle through ‘polite conversation’ at dinner parties and such. I’m certain that at times I appear aloof or bored but actually I’m just trying not to “speak my mind”. I’ve literally bitten my tongue to keep from telling someone that they were completely asinine (my opinion) about something or other. When I do try to make a point without using abusive language or questioning someone’s parentage I usually sound pretty unconvincing – so often I revert to my childhood inclination to remain silent. I guess its enough to just know that I’m right and they’re wrong. But at times I would like to “tell it like it is” however, trying to educate the entire world is just too much work. And besides when someone asks for your opinion it seems to me that they really only want to hear what they believe anyway.
I’m a little anxious these days – with mid-term elections and the conservative back-lash in the Catholic Church I often feel alone in the wilderness. Yet from time to time I need to “speak my mind”.
So here goes:
- I think that our country is better off today with President Obama than we were with President Bush. And I will work for his re-election in 2012.
- I believe that the policy of “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell” is wrong and should be repealed.
- I support marriage for gays and lesbians.
- I am pro-life BUT that means ALL LIFE: not just unborn babies – capital punishment should be abolished.
- I am in favor of women’s ordination in the Catholic Church.
- I believe that the Catholic Church should have a married clergy as well – this is what I pray for when asked to pray for vocations.
- Oh, and those Tea Party Candidates scare the beejeezus out of me!
But the next time I’m at a dinner party I’ll likely stick to talking about sports and the weather and my grandkids. After that I’ll probably just look bored…