Fandango’s Provocative Question #197

Today questions asks if you can detach a person’s political beliefs from that person and see each separately.

In your interpersonal relationships with acquaintances, friends, and family, are you able to separate political ideologies from the people who hold them? Why or why not?

I’m not sure I have ever been able (or willing) to detach “political” opinions from the person who owns them. I believe an individual’s political values are intimately related to his or her core values. I don’t like socially mixing with people whose political views and values are antithetical to mine. I can’t get past the haunting question, “How can you see yourself as a good person when your politics show you as without compassion for the pain of others?”

I don’t see people as “segmented.” What you believe is a direct outgrowth of who you are and who you are is inevitably what you believe. Often, your professed “political beliefs” may display a deeper level of your core beliefs than anything else you are willing to discuss in a “public” way.

Your politics are more “you” than you know.

Let’s start with a couple of “small” things that say a lot about politics and core values.

About 12 years ago, we had to vote about whether or not to raise the funding on our library. Our library in little old Uxbridge was the first free library in the country. That is one of our few claims to fame. The library was built in 1882. In its day, it was state of the art. It’s a beautiful building and one of the crowning achievements of our town. Over the years, its funding has dried up to the point that we are barely able to keep the library open enough hours to have it stay part of the national library system.

It’s also too small. They no longer can accept books — even for free — because they are out of shelf space.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Libraries are not only places to borrow books. They are quiet places where kids can study away from noisy and chaotic homes. Libraries offer free wi-fi. Some homes lack the connection (it’s expensive) or have far less than they need. Libraries are places where new authors can tell people about books they’ve written, where there’s a story hour for the little ones, where kids can discover books. Where anyone can sit and read in peace and safety. They also give courses at night for families and individuals. Free.

Funding the library so we could afford a full-time librarian and a second part-timer would have cost about $5 per home per year. It was a small enough amount so you’d think this would be a no-brainer. Yet, there was a lobby against it. “Who needs a library anyway?” was the clarion call. The answer is everyone needs a library sometimes and some people need it more than others. Poorer people need it most, but anyone who takes studying seriously will need it sometimes.

The bill went down to defeat. I was shocked. It never occurred to me that people would be against having a good library especially since we (so to speak) invented the free public library. How can you be against books? Yet they were.

The library is still alive. Private donations keep it running, but not enough to help it expand. It’s exactly the same size as it was in 1882. The politics of the town displayed their heart as more Grinch than Santa. As for me, if you are against books, you are unlikely to be my friend.

Photo: Garry Armstrong. Built in 1882

Okay, here’s another one. There is a sewage plant in Millbury (a slightly larger town than Uxbridge, just up the road) where they still poured raw sewage into the Blackstone River. For an additional 50 cents a month per home, they could repair the plant and stop polluting the river.

The Blackstone River flowing south

Millbury refused. That was 10 years ago. Times have changed and they may have (by now, I hope) been forced to stop polluting. When that bill was defeated, almost everyone in the valley was shocked. That they were still, after all these years of working to clean up the river, pouring sewage into it was shocking, but to be unwilling to stop polluting for such a small amount of money was, even to the dullest of our citizens, embarrassing. But they said no. Apparently $6 a year was too much to pay for clean water.

There are issues that are complicated — immigration, for example — but refusing to allow the children born here to remain is sickening. Those “dreamer” kids have never known any other country. They didn’t come here on their own nor did they ask to be born on the U.S. How we deal with incoming aliens is different, but this one is simple. How can you throw these young people out when this is the only place they know? How mean-spirited can you be?

Most of our political issues, after you cut through the propaganda, are matters of basic compassion, empathy, and caring. If you think you are a Christian, how can you not care? If you are a human being with a conscience, how can you not care?The real political bottom line is how you treat fellow human beings. I don’t think you need to be religiously-committed to have an understanding of right and wrong, but a surprising number of people don’t get it. I don’t know what happened to them to make them so callous and cold, but personally, I want nothing to do with them.

They probably don’t like me, either.

Categories: #BlackstoneRiver, #Books, #FPQ, #Photography, Mumford River, Provocative Questions, questions, reading, right and wrong, Water

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24 replies

  1. Those are truly shocking and unexplainable ‘stories’. I think I would despair. And no, they most certainly wouldn’t be my friends either.
    We have stopped having certain discussions around the table when we are with our families. Views are often (sometimes) tunnel-visions and you can’t argument with somebody who doesn’t want to listen. So, when a theme is cropping up I loath to hear a silly opinion about I say: Can we stop right there. Let’s just agree to disagree.
    I have had fights with once close friends about ‘opinions and views’. If I cannot convince them to check their facts before opening their mouth, I tell them that I don’t want to hear anything about ‘that theme’ anymore and that I look at their utterings as slander…. And I try to be very patient with them, as they don’t always have a functionning brain. But I also found that this continuing fighting about speaking the truth (vs just repeating stuff being found on the internet, on the radio or amonst their cronies) did me no good, and therefore I try to avoid them. Hero Husband has his own way of avoiding: He just gets up and stands somewhere in a corner, looking up stuff on his phone or goes for a walk…. He always has the excuse that he doesn’t understand our dialect!


  2. The current Repubs are not Conservatives. I’m a Conservative. Liz Chaney is a Conservative. I’m not sure what these guys are – just that they must not be allowed to take power – which is all they care about.
    I guess we could say that the current situation has done us all a favor in exposing this. Yet when people like Walker still almost win this points to some deep sickness in things. Santos?
    Now the question is: how to we get rid of this and get that Party / the Country back on track?
    It seems the only way that can happen is if it finally becomes clear to them that their crap doesn’t work and People don’t want it. But look at them … they are still carrying on trying to get power.


    • I think it’s possible they are all domestic terrorists, whether or not they are (currently) armed. Their goal is to so disrupt our government that eventually we simply give up on democracy. So far, they are doing a pretty good job, too.


  3. Yep… I wouldn’t be able to keep my mouth shut about clean water, and they wouldn’t want me around… and that’d be a-okay for my personal life. You’ve made a great argument on libraries, too.


    • These are the kind of things that directly affect life in small towns. The unwillingness to make life livable for everyone when the amount of money involved is so tiny compared to the benefits? It makes the defeat of these bills mind blowing and doesn’t make me feel all warm and cuddly about the people who live here. Oh, yes, there ARE plenty of very nice, kind people. There are also a generation of snarly, unfriendly younger kids who clearly have forgotten that there are such things as manners or caring. It’s sad.


  4. Hi Marilyn, you have managed to shock me yet again about the library and pollution stories. Unbelievable among educated people. I am of the view the state of a countries libraries tells you a lot about the attitudes and culture of its people. When I was in Auckland, New Zealand, I thought the library was incredible. It is the same in Canterbury, UK. The Brits are a nation of historians, though, so they do like to hold on to historical books. We saw a Second Edition, hand written compilation of Shakespeare’s plays in Canterbury Cathedral in 2016 (for the 400th anniversary of his death)


    • I’m not sure how educated many of them are. A lot of them seem to have their heads deeply buried in the sand and whatever education they got, they have lost it.

      The vote against funding the library was, to me, shocking. I was going to write about in the local newspaper, but no one would talk about it because they were sure they’d get fired. They’d talk “off the record,” but they were sure they’d get fired if they said anything. Despite nostalgia, small towns can be difficult places to live unless you are exactly the same as all the other people in the town. They don’t make room for newcomers. To them, if your ancestors aren’t in the local cemetery, you are a newcomer. Bigger cities offer a lot more options than small towns.

      The failure of Millbury to control their pollution, now THAT cut across everyone’s politics. Cleaning up the river has been a work in progress for more than 75 years. It’s a big deal and it affects many people in three states, all of whom depend on the Blackstone watershed. Most people care more about the river and the watershed than they do about any other issue.

      Water is life. I’m guessing the department of water and wildlife has by now compelled them to deal with their sewage appropriately. How can anyone SANE think pouring sewerage into your water supply is EVER okay?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I knew some very kind and caring people when I lived in Geeveston. People who I knew I could call at one in the morning if David was sick and I needed to get him to the hospital, people who thought nothing of inviting a dozen people and their pets to stay at their homes during the bushfires and then went out and bought food to cook and take to the evacuation centre.
    But, some of these same people’s politics would drive me crazy, especially their attitude to Green politics. “Greenies” was always said in an insulting way because Geeveston was a forestry town and they blame them for the decline in the forestry industry.
    That’s my dilemma so I never wanted to get into an argument with them about politics.


    • Right now, we have “regular” Democrats, “sane” Republicans, and those people who call themselves Republicans but are actually domestic terrorists. Their goal is not to improve life, but to so badly disrupt the government that we just give up and look for a “strong man” to take over.

      This isn’t anything “normal.” It’s the loonies vs. the “please, let me live something like a normal life” people. I do not know how it will end and I doubt I will be alive when (if) it’s ever settled.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You’ve said it so well Marilyn. This is true, the people you support shows how you think.


  7. That’s a great answer to the question, Marilyn. I think it hard to argue against compassion, and caring for others. Those are small prices to pay for large benefits and it’s hard to imagine why anyone would vote against it. When most people talk politics in my hearing, it’s seldom about local issues that they should know and care about. That’s probably because we are all immigrants to this area. In California, there was a non-partisan position for the county supervisor for our area, and he received some bad treatment from people I know and associated with. This man has done more for our community in four years, than the former person did in 20. I am very disappointed in my other acquaintances and some friends who did not vote for him. He won anyway, thank heavens, but it took a toll on him. I don’t know anyone here and still am not fully aware of the impact of the local issues other than affordable housing and water. I totally agree with you on the issues you brought up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tip O’Neill, a former long-time Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, used to say “All politics is local.” He didn’t originate the phrase, but that is what he called the book he wrote. People seem to forget that “local” is where you live and “local” is what affects you every day. If you don’t understand local, you don’t understand. But it’s shocking how many people seem to have their heads in the sand. All they understand are “party” and “slogans.” Give them a good slogan and they believe. They don’t do any research about candidates. The really DO get their information from the internet. They aren’t stupid, either, but they do seem to have been brainwashed.

      Liked by 1 person

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