I have fond feelings toward every person I have “friended” on Facebook. Some of you know today’s Rich; many don’t. Because of the way I choose to look, many people I meet assume I am a Liberal. Quite a few of you knew me when I actually WAS a Liberal. So, it can come as a shock to some of you when I say the things I say. I don’t use Facebook to play games or repost others’ jokes or photos or quizzes. I use it to reconnect with folks – many of whom I haven’t seen or even corresponded with since whatever period of my life they happened to cross paths with – and to try to discuss things. I am very opinionated [NOT a bad word!!] and the written word can come across differently than intended, especially during, shall I say, differences of opinion. I know when I read some political opinions posted that differ radically from mine – coming from old friends – I sometimes cringe. I can only imagine the effects some of my words may have on some of you – particularly those of you who knew me back in the 60s, 70s, even into the 80s, and a bit through the 90s, though I was more tempered; more conservative, by then.
It’s been a long, gradual process – with a few life altering moments – but it really isn’t surprising to me, at least, that I eventually ended up being a Conservative. I come from a family that was one generation removed from being Italian immigrants. My grandparents were proud to be new Americans and wanted to be productive members of this Promised Land. I had uncles who fought in major engagements of WWII and a father who took part in the Japan aftermath. My family was Conservative – my parents voted for Barry Goldwater – I grew up in a middle-class Italian Catholic family in the 50s and early 60s in a little nirvana that was the suburbs of NYC. It was a great childhood with lots of love and family and friends.
Then came the later 60s and 70s and I was taken in by all the change around me. It was exciting and alluring and new. Lots of those feelings and thoughts are still with me today. After all, we are a cumulative collage of all our life experiences. But, though those were exhilarating years, I began that long and gradual change.
Probably the event that got the ball rolling, was my decision to abruptly stop smoking marijuana. Then, there was my wife, Elaine, and the 10 children that came along with that marriage. All those years of struggling with finances, I did not see the Democrat Party as my Saviour, yet, I voted Democrat – out of habit – after all, Richard Nixon was the enemy.
One major event … It was mid 80s, I guess. I was arguing with a couple of my sister-in-laws about the merits of abortion. I was ardently pro-choice. They were pro-life. I was passionately, and loudly debating the merits of a good old abortion. “What if the baby had Downs Syndrome, or something?” I remember saying. It was a couple of days later – maybe the next? – and we took the kids to the zoo. There was a group there that I hadn’t noticed as I was gazing at whatever animal pen we were at. Suddenly, there was a young girl hugging me, saying, “I love you.” She was a girl from that group, and had Downs Syndrome. That was God speaking to me. I have been Pro-Life ever since.
My love of American history has certainly helped. Visiting so many sites where America’s history was made has deepened my love for the land and the people that shaped it. What I perceive today is the ongoing and willful destruction of all that was. Just like I saw in the 60s — that same attitude. Only then, I was unwittingly a part of that destruction.
Other major events were 9/11/2001 and then the birth of my daughter, Sophia, who’s struggle for life was both valiant and miraculous. I stumbled after those two traumas, but I feel as though I am beginning to recover.
Birds of a feather flock together; opposites attract; so which is it? Hopefully, both. I’ve always thought I could get along with any political bent. Today, the divide is so deep, I don’t know. Anyway, I am what I am; you are what you are, and hopefully whatever it was that once brought us together can keep us that way!
For some reason, I just felt like I had to say this. Was going to go into even more detail, but that’s enough for now. Happy Trails!