Growing up, I was exposed mostly to conservative people leading pretty traditional lives. We practiced Christian traditions, and when we went to church, it was the local First Baptist Church. I didn’t know anyone that was openly gay. And I even felt a bit weirded out the first time I saw someone with a mohawk (hey, I grew up in a small Texas town, okay?). But luckily, my parents did not teach my brothers and me to think or be a certain way. They did not teach us that just because someone was different from us that it was wrong. They did not speak poorly of other races or religions to us. Politics were not a big topic of discussion at the dinner table. Instead, I remember the focus being on things like manners and fun. Like many folks, my childhood has plenty of flaws (plenty). But for these things I’ve mentioned here, I am incredibly grateful. Whether they did it intentionally or not, by not being aggressive with specific teachings, my parents allowed me to be someone that didn’t call names or treat others poorly.
I’ll admit that I went through a rather conservative (politically speaking) phase in my early twenties. I blame that on lack of exposure, lack of maturity and too much talk radio during my long commute. But the more different types of people I was exposed to as a young adult, the less I was interested in politics. I quit talk radio cold turkey. And after I had my son, I distanced myself from politics almost completely. Some may think this is irresponsible, but for me it was so wonderfully freeing. My days were no longer full of other people’s opinions and politician’s promises. Instead they were full of independent thinking, happiness and baby love (and poop and exhaustion).
These days, I’m able to genuinely agree on different topics with different political viewpoints – not just Republican and not just Democratic – both. I follow my heart and my gut when it comes to big and small issues alike. Now, I’m not perfect. I screw up. And there are plenty of times when I might care about someone else’s opinion more than I should. But for the most part, being logical and compassionate in life has led me down a beautiful path that I’m immensely thankful for. And what I’m even more thankful for is the ability to raise my children to also be logical and compassionate. Never will hate be taught in my household. My children are being shown true kindness every single day. And I strongly believe that by teaching them to have an open mind and an open heart, I am giving them the absolute best tools possible to go out into the real world one day and rock it.
I know that I’m a rare case. Most folks think the same way and have the same opinions and surroundings for forever. And if you’re one of those people I encourage you to open your mind and your heart, even just a little bit. The inner peace you will feel when you throw out all (or some) of your rules and worries and negative thoughts is incredible.
“And the world will be a better place…For you and me, you just wait and see…Put a little love in your heart.”