Sunday, July 06, 2008

Opposing Opinions

This past weekend Plosk and I went to New Hampshire for his cousin's wedding. It was a major trek for us: 5 hours total from door to door. Usually if we travel 5 hours together to go some where, we end up in another country. Traveling within New England has been limited for us to CT and on a few occasions, MA. In the last two days we went through NY, MA, CT, VT and NH. The trip enhanced my love of MA and gave me a new found fascination with VT. Specifically Brattleboro. On Sunday morning we had lunch with a friend and explored a little of the quaint and beautiful town. I could see myself living there. Or in Northampton, MA. Either way, NY is good for us for now. But when we decide to have a child and are ready to move out of the congested NY area, MA and VT will definitely be on our list of places we want to go. NY is hard to compete with, but so is the natural beauty of a more rural area. NY, your days are numbered. It won't be next week, or even next year, but it's coming. We're leaving you.

NH was very pretty. But it didn't enchant me. Perhaps my "liberal" ways are a little too extreme for the location. Plosk and I found ourselves in many conversations over the weekend in which we held completely opposite opinions to those around us. From the 2nd ammendment to gay marriage to religion, the conversations moved around from political to religious seamlessly. Living in Westchester has put me in an interesting position. I rarely meet people who have differing views to my own. The vast majority of my friends are democrats, atheists and a good number are vegetarians or vegans. If we talk about any of the topics I mentioned above, it's a pretty short conversation because we agree with each other. If the topic comes up, it's probably to vent our frustration on a country that can be homophobic, god fearing and ready to take away a number of rights I find important on everything from privacy to reproductive rights.

So moving on, last night was wonderful. No one raised their voice. No discussion got heated. I did have someone ask me how I got my morals if I didn't have religion to guide me. I answered that the society I live in and the laws I abide by along with my parents and my own internal compass, all guide me. I said my ethics come from within, not without. I don't need religion to tell me something is right or wrong. Nor do I need the fear of hell or the hope of heaven to lead a good life.

The people I talked with were frustrated that purchasing guns was too difficult. And that extensive backround checks and waiting periods don't make things harder for criminals, but instead for law abiding citizens who treasure the second ammendment. They want the right to combat the government if the need arises. A citizen militia if you will. A teacher who was there thought that teachers should be allowed to have guns in school. I wondered how long it would be before a teacher gunned down a school instead of a student if teachers were allowed to carry a weapon in the classroom. I think classrooms should be a safe haven and teachers shouldn't carry a violent weapon. Just knowledge and compassion. I also didn't care if someone was mildly inconvenienced by a waiting period if it helped even a little bit to keep the guns out of the wrong hands.

The most confusing topic that came up all night happened as we were leaving. Someone asked one of the guests if she was coming with us to see fireworks. She was about 34.

She responded, "I don't know. Ask the boss." I looked at her confused and after motioning to her husband, she said to me, "He's the boss."

I asked, "What do you mean, the boss?"

She said, "He loves me as Jesus loved the church so he's the boss."

I looked at her shocked, as if she just told me that women don't have the right to vote, or shouldn't be in the work place. I said, "Gary and I are partners. There is no boss."

And she reponded, "We just have different beliefs."

So I inquired further about it in the car to Plosk's cousin and her new husband. He explained that it was a ranking system. In their Christian faith and their interpretation of the bible, the man is the head of the household and he makes all final decisions. He may ask for input from his wife but at the end of the day, he is responsible for his family before god, and because it's his reponsibility, the final decisions are his.

I responded that Plosk and I walk through life together and make decisions together. One of us may have to compromise on something we want for the good of the unit, but it isn't automatically me because I'm a woman. And any decision we make it going to be done through conversation and understanding between us both. There is no one decision maker. It's the two of us sorting out what we both want together. And how we can accomplish it together.

BIG differences of opinion, of beliefs, of the ways in which we choose to live. I could never imagine myself ranked lower in my own family than my partner. PARTNER. Not my boss, not my CEO. My husband. The man I chose to share my life with. That's another good word: share. As a woman, I felt their faith compromised the basic value of the woman as a human being of equal worth and ability. They don't see it that way. But I'm afraid that's not something I can fully understand, or want to understand. I maintain that religion in most forms aims to oppress it's own members. Usually the women. And that's not a club to which I ever want to belong. Even if I did believe in a higher being, I can't think of any church or institution to which I would ever want to belong. I'm not saying they all infringe on the rights of women or people (although I believe that most do). It's just not for me. Happily, I don't believe in a higher power. So I'm all set thank you.

I will say that the conversations I had over the weekend, as much as the opinions differed from my own, I felt lucky to have them. I met people who I only knew existed from newspaper articles. Yes I'm sheltered as a gal from Westchester. I know religious people of course, but none of my friends are republicans. I just don't get to hear the views straight from the horses mouth much. So it was an educational experience discussing topics I care deeply about with people who disagree in pretty much every way possible.

With that said, it was a great weekend with Plosk. A lovely wedding. A great brunch with Ken with some delicious veg sausage. And to end it all, the season finale of Doctor Who, who I can't get enough of.