“I’m a Republican because of social issues.”

The bars had just closed. She was a young attractive woman wearing a dress that accentuated her assets. She was probably a student at the local university with a bright future ahead of her. She was accompanied by a young man, also good looking and sharply dressed. They were having a discussion. As they sat down on a bench in the pedestrian mall, she said, “I’m a Republican because of social issues.”

Behind this young couple, another row of benches had other people on them. The couple didn’t seem to notice they weren’t alone as they were focused on one another. The other benches were all filled with mostly middle aged men. They were scruffy and for certainly they weren’t scantily clad as the young lady. Each of these men was alone on his respective bench, each laying down trying to get some sleep. Some of them probably heard the young lady’s comment, but none replied.

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4 Responses

  1. What’s the inspiration? Some new data?

    • No new data or anything complex or even deep. It was just my observing the world.

      Last night, I was walking home from work. I passed by this couple and heard that exact statement. I pass along that way every night on my way home. I see those homeless guys on the benches every night.

      The contrast just struck me. I decided to just describe it rather than add any commentary. I don’t know who this couple was and I didn’t want to speculate. I don’t know if the young lady was being hypocritical in her obliviousness to those suffering of real social issues. I just wanted to capture the image of that moment: this happy young couple with homeless men sleeping in the background.

      That scene speaks to something fundamental about American society. The homeless people are just there, they always are just there. They are people too. They have lives. They were once young, filled with hope and opinions. They probably even have been in love at some point in their lives. Just people. The only difference between them and everyone else is that they sleep on benches or in winter under bridges.

      That young lady was surrounded by social issues that, from my vantage point, she seemed oblivious to. But most of us are that way most of the time. We don’t typically really look at people. Just strangers passing by strangers.

      I’m sure I’ve been just like that young lady at other times in my life. I only know the homeless people because I live and work downtown. I see the homeless people all the time and they often inspire my contemplations about life. Over the years, I’ve talked to some of the homeless. Most of them seem fairly normal, but they’ve just had difficult experiences or whatever. Others have mental illness. None of them seem like bad people deserving to be forgotten and ignored by more respectable society. They are just people trying to get by.

      I think about the homeless because I realize luck and circumstances are all that separate their lives and my own. I’ve struggled at times. The only thing that kept me from becoming homeless very well may have been the simple fact that I had family who was able and willing to help me out. Who knows, maybe I will become homeless in my life before my time is up. The future is unpredictable.

      It’s easier for me to empathize with the homeless than with that young couple. The temptation is great to judge the young lady by what she said, but there is no point. She too is just a person. She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, just like the rest of us.

  2. “The temptation is great to judge the young lady by what she said, but there is no point. She too is just a person. She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know”

    I have had such thoughts before. For me, my question is even to me as observer: how can I judge. What do I know?

    By the way, Happy Fathers’ Day :-)

    • From my perspective, that scene reminded me of my thoughts on the distinction between ideology and reality. People have all kinds of beliefs, but not all of them correspond to everyday reality.

      In the US, “social issues” usually refers to such things as family values. It’s not so much about helping others than it is about telling others how to live their lives: don’t be gay, don’t have sex before marriage, don’t have an abortion, don’t get divorced, don’t be lenient with your children by not spanking and punishing them… a very long list of don’ts that could go on for pages.

      But what about the families of those homeless people. Everyone is born into a family. Right now, we have more people unemployed and underemployed (1 in 5) than during the Great Depression. If someone was actually worried about family values, then maybe we should end the policies and economic practices that have created such vast poverty.

      I came across a real world example of this in a book I was reading. Most conservatives are against stem cell research. However, if a conservative has someone close to them who suffers from a disease that might be cured by stem cell research, most of these conservatives support stem cell research. It’s easy to be against something in the abstract. That is the danger of ideology. It blinds people to reality.

      I don’t know if any of this applies to that particular young lady. It’s just the framework of my own thinking as I gazed upon the scene. So, I was projecting my thoughts upon a situation I knew very little about. That wouldn’t be any better for my projections to blind me to the reality of that young lady than the way some people are blinded by their beliefs. I get tired of how humans are trapped and blindered by endless beliefs, but it seems to be the fate of being human… or maybe it’s just the fate of us modern humans. Some indigenous people apparently didn’t seem to have this problem to the extent we do or in the way we do.

      Fathers’ Day? How exciting. Even my four-legged furry children don’t tell me “Happy Fathers’ Day”. I sometimes feel like my four-legged furry children don’t really love me and that they’re just using me for food and shelter. Well, I guess it’s good to be needed.

      So, is Fathers’ Day celebrated by most people in your neck of the woods? I’m uninformed about the origins of Fathers’ Day and I feel too lazy to look it up. I’ve always assumed that most modern holidays are a conspiracy created by the gift card industry. Or should I say, the Gift-Card-Industrial Complex.

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