There’s this thing going around. I don’t know if it’s new. Maybe it’s not. But it’s new to me.
People are embarrassed by opinions.
I was watching “South Park” the other night. I love South Park. Yes, they make fun of Jesus, but they also make fun of everyone else. So anyway, I was watching “South Park” the day after the election and in the episode, Obama ends up winning the election by cheating with the help of China – haha! But then Mitt Romney is a duck that shoots brown doo out of its mouth, which in “South Park” world is a way of depicting someone incredibly dumb and lame.
I don’t know why they think he is that dumb and lame, but it’s a thing. A lot of people feel that way. I don’t really get it. Yeah, he’s a square old white guy, but even if you don’t agree with his politics, you can’t deny that this is a man who in his personal life is extremely helpful and kind and generous. He refused a salary as governor and promised to refuse one as president. People from his church lined up to talk about the ways in which he helped them – not just with money, but with time and effort. He gave like 30% of his income to charity. That’s a lot of dough.
I believe that anyone who runs for high political office has to have a large ego. But a large ego is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it comes from knowing you’re the man for the job, from humbly knowing that. Kind of how the Jews believing they’ve been chosen by God is actually a very humble attitude: “We didn’t do this ourselves; it was God.” I don’t believe that all politicians are pathological narcissists. Some are, for sure. But I do believe that it is possible to have an ego large enough to run for president and still have a heart for service. Politics aside, whether he was the right candidate aside, I believe that Mitt Romney is one of those people.
But even if he’s not, even if he’s maybe just some politician, do people really believe he gives ladies cancer and hates black people and drinks puppy blood? Do they really see him as a cigar-chomping evil capitalist who has a hearty belly laugh while he stuffs pink slips into envelopes? I don’t know.
Anyway, he’s a duck that spews brown doo from his mouth. Okay.
There’s this thing – and you see it on “SNL,” “South Park,” “The Daily Show” – where it’s kind of embarrassing or not cool or totally mean to have a passionate opinion. Especially a passionate conservative opinion. It makes you a doo-spewing duck. You’re just not cool anymore. At all. You are hateful and judgmental and mean, or, at the very least, super-duper lame.
I made some people angry on election day because of my mean Facebook comments. Were my comments intense and fiery and passionate? Yes – more so than usual, for sure. But were they hateful? I guess that depends on how you define hate. Is hate a passionately expressed opinion that differs from yours? If so, they were hateful. But to me, “hate” is a serious word that should be reserved for speech with evil intent. Racist diatribes and threats leap to mind.
My comments were intense, sure. But why? What was my intent?
I read once that the opposite of love isn’t hate, but indifference. I believe that. I’m passionate because I care about people, I care about my country, and I feel that it’s my duty as a good human being to speak the truth. Sometimes the truth is difficult to hear, but that doesn’t make it hateful.
I am the type of person – and two of my brothers are the same way – who can disagree about politics and we get rowdy and we yell and I call you an idiot and you call me a moron and then we’re like “Let’s order a pizza” and we watch Lord of the Rings. Not everybody is that way, and I’ve hurt some people’s feelings, and I apologized for it. (Every four years, I should probably hire an Election Day Censor to sit by me and say “Don’t do that” right before I hit “Post.”)
But it’s not just fire-and-brimstone election night passions that embarrass people. I have friends whom I dearly love who kind of don’t really like me anymore because of my opinions, or at the very least think I’m not as cool as I was, or not as happy. I wish I could explain to them – and to”SNL,” “South Park,” and Jon Stewart – that being serious about some things doesn’t mean you can’t be light about others, and light in your heart.
G.K. Chesterton said something about how being light is closer to the angels than being heavy. He knew the darkness of life on earth, that we live in a fallen world, and that we have to use our wits to lift up the good things and fight the bad. He was an outspoken critic of many modern ideas, but he critiqued with humor, and in person he was a jolly, happy person, always laughing, his big fat belly shaking while he smoked a cigar.
I think it’s expected that I be intense on election day – a lot of people were. But most of the time, I consider myself a happy warrior. Especially now: I’m living a very blessed life. But what is life if we don’t pay attention to the stuff that shapes our future? What is life if we don’t stand up for life? We need to recognize darkness to appreciate the light, understand the bad to know how precious the good is. What good is laughter if we don’t know how blessed we are to be laughing?
Pro-life activists, I wish our intentions were better-understood. I wish all the people who believe that detachment and irony are the only way to be cool would understand that having a Seth Myers smirk doesn’t necessarily make you lighthearted and awesome.
My point – and I’m 80% sure I have one – is that we can’t be afraid to speak the truth in love. And I’m not a doo-spewing duck.
That is all.