I've been called bitter, unhappy, unpatriotic and pompous because of some comments I made about gun control and America yesterday on Facebook. I was also defriended by one of my cousins because of it, so I think I'll take Denise's advice and blog about it.
Bitter? Well, I'll concede that I feel a tad bitter about the difficult times I've had negotiating for care for Sophie, for medications that cost less if I get them illegally from Canada than legally through my insurance company that has jacked up Sophie's premium more than 150% in three years. Bitter actually might be too mild a term for what I feel about the way this country handles healthcare and the insurance industry. As an overall characteristic of my person, though -- well, I'm not there, yet, thanks to daily meditation and the support and love of family and friends.
Unhappy? Hmmm. What the hell does it mean to be truly happy? I'm certainly not happy all the time and am distinctly unhappy about many things, but I try to do something about the things that make me unhappy. I think if someone knows me well, unhappy wouldn't be a term they'd use to describe me. I'm too much of an idealist to be unhappy. It does make me unhappy, though, that I can't have a heated discussion on Facebook with a first cousin without it degenerating into personal attack.
Unpatriotic? I was born an American and didn't work my ass off to be one. I didn't swim shark-infested oceans or dodge tyrants from the left or right. I believe it was sheer chance that I was born here and not some other country, and I'm grateful to be a part of such a vast, crazy, diverse and free place. I like ice in my drinks, movies, popcorn and peanut butter, all things that you're hard put to find in such plenitude elsewhere. I think our national parks, particularly Yosemite, are the greatest places on earth. Do I believe America is God's gift to the world? Absolutely not. Do I believe America is the best country in the world? Absolutely not. I'm grateful that my parents and their parents worked incredibly hard to give me the life I was born into. I'm grateful that I can speak openly as a woman in this country, that I can be in charge of my body, that I can choose to worship or not worship as I please. I'm grateful that our country is organized in such a fashion that I can go to the poll-booth and vote without getting killed, that I can rely on the country's military to protect me from imminent danger. I'm grateful that I get some financial aid from our government to help me with respite care for Sophie and my boys. But I'm an integral part of this country as well and grateful for the opportunity to give back with my own tax money, not only to pay for this military and many of the services that make our country a great one, but also to help those less fortunate. Do I believe I'm a human being connected to other human beings, regardless of where they were born? Yes, I do. I'm not sure if that makes me patriotic or unpatriotic, though.
Pompous? Well, I'll cry mea culpa on this one as I do have the tendency to condescend and my tongue is as sharp as a scythe. I'm working on it. When my son Oliver acts like a crazy person as a catcher on his baseball team, I wince and think he's a chip off the old maternal block. I even think the word asshole. Other people just say they like his passion. If I could learn to express my passion in more constructive ways, I'd be better off, as would those on the receiving end of my pontifications.
So, where does that leave us?
The Husband has been privy to the snafu on Facebook, and unlike a good Swiss, he's not been neutral. He rolls his eyes at Americans and their passion for guns and violence. He thinks the NRA is a repellent organization, drunk on power and a tired, irrelevant history. He's lectured me on the real reasons the Swiss all have guns when they're twenty and ammunition, too. He is a sharp shooter and participated for many years in the Swiss bicycle calvary. He hated every second of it, as his father did before him. The Husband is extremely knowledgeable about his country and loves his heritage no more or less than his life in this country. That's one of the reasons, I suppose, that I married him. You know -- all that John Lennon imagine stuff, imagine there's no country, no one to kill or die for, I wonder if you can.
Now I'm off to make some Hallelujah Cake, distinctly American for the Swiss Husband's birthday.
Veil Gluck zum Geburi!