Monday, July 23, 2012

Facebook Snafus, Gun Control, Switzerland and the The Husband

Switzerland, 2007

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.

Oy vey.

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!


  1. I wonder how many times I have called you brilliant here? You are a brilliant writer and a brilliant thinker. I wish I could express myself half as well as you do. It is sad that your cousin cannot handle diverse opinion and perhaps really hear what you are saying. I think you should add 'brilliant' to your list. That is what I have to say today.

  2. Oh, Elizabeth, you are none of the pejorative adjectives hurled at you. Those of us who have had our particular worlds of experience with disability and caregiving have developed strong opinions and beliefs about many things. We have moments where we have been "bad boys and girls." Moments do not define us; our lives and passions define us. Shit, most of my wife's family won't give me the time of day (and if they were dogs would use me as a fire hydrant); thank god I was an only child and have no relatives. You are none of those things to those among us who have come to know your passions!

  3. This IS brilliant and I am going to link this if you don't mind.

  4. I saw a little bit of it come through on my news feed, and I wanted to scream for you. What insanity. Most of my facebook family fights have been over gay marriage--and none of us are even GAY.


  5. Elizabeth, I don't think you have even a smidgen of an idea of just how wonderful your brilliant mind is.

    Maybe you do, I hope you do, because it is wonderful and powerful and strong.

    You're not perfect and you're still young (that's a good thing !) but you are sharp and clear and true and I count you as a hero in my little world.

  6. And PS - happy Birthday to the husband - Hallelujah Cake looks like the perfect treat to celebrate with....yuuuuummm!

    Veil Gluck zum Geburi, indeed!

  7. I am snickering at being defriended. Is your cousin 8 years old? Sheesh.

    Whatever our beliefs about gun control we need to keep talking and we need to start listening. Maybe we can figure all this out. Maybe but I doubt it.

  8. I'm just echoing here--brilliant!!!!!


  9. A wonderfully articulate post. Much better than a dialogue with a foolish cousin.
    You covered a lot of ground in this post, Elizabeth. I wonder often what it would be like to walk in your shoes. I'm certain I could never fill them.
    I don't spend a ton of time with you. I don't see you every week or even every month, but I feel I know you quite well through all of the pages of writing we've shared both on and off the Internet. Bitter and unhappy are not on the list of words I would use to describe you, rest assured.

  10. For reasons unbeknownst to me your feed does not show up with me. I've tried to address the issue but have no luck. Perhaps it is working vice versa and Segev's updates are not reaching you?
    I would agree that the word passionate describes you well Elizabeth. And you seem to have a more widely based perception of citizenhood than the 'patriotic' cousin who sounds to confuse patriotism with religion, but then, that too is a freedom of expression Americans have. As far as the guns go, here to in Israel there is a gun culture: many people have guns, the vast majority leave them at home. This is significant because here you can carry your firearm with you at (almost) all times, out in public display. Kind of reminds me of how little a drinking problem there is amongst teenagers in Holland and yet the drinking age is sixteen there.
    So apparently this is a cultural phenomenon. Guns historically in the US were a part of the culture when it was appropriate, and now no longer being so, places them out of a normal context.

  11. Great post, Elizabeth!

    With me and some relatives it was a comment I made about animal's having rights, and the Facebook connection went away. Life is calmer now.

  12. Hallelujah Cake fixes everything. For me at least. I seriously can't count the number of times I have made it since I got the recipe from you.

    I love you and your passion. Period.

  13. I love everything you said.

    And you know, if someone defriends you over your political views, you probably don't need them as a friend anyway. That shows intolerance on their part. (That doesn't make it any less hurtful, though.)

  14. brilliantly put....I lived in USA for 7 years...5 in NY.... and I know america is full of good stuff... and bad....and I wish we were more influenced in UK with the generosity of spirit and can do attitude and less with the mass consumerism and 100 channels of TV!!

  15. i think a more apt descriptions of you would be provocative, intelligent, thoughtful, healthily cynical, bold—all of the things that we need more of in this country. i, for one, am thankful that you are not a sheep. baaaaaaaa. xoxo, christy

  16. Ah Well, you cannot please all people all of the time... if that cousin has dumped you, well more fool them.... you write so clearly and with such erudition that I'm sure many would agree and feel for you. What many people forget is that you have choices to do, or not to do.. and you are entitled to have a view on everything, even if it is in contrast with others.. I think you have written a deep and meaningful post above and thank you for sharing, its always a joy to read you.... best wishes, J

  17. I'm pretty sure I was born into the wrong family...or exchanged with another baby at birth. It's the only thing I can imagine that could have happened to make me SOOOooooo different from about 98% of my family.

    Consequently I get remarks like "You'll just never learn will you?" when I engage them in any kind of political/social/activism/*gasp* religious...conversation, shall we call it?

    I loved this post. I'm new to your blog, but you can bet I'll be back.

  18. Hahahahaha, bitter. Hahahahaha, unhappy. Ridiculous. I missed the FB fracas because I deactivated my account last month, but I can't even look at those words in relation to you without snickering.

    I love you, my passionate, opinionated, fierce and funny sweetpea. xoxo

  19. Ugh. I am so sorry that you were attacked on Facebook (or anywhere, for that matter) and felt the need to defend yourself here. That said, your clear, concise, passionate writing wins out once again, in my opinion.

    Hope your husband has a lovely birthday and, as a countermeasure, I'm going directly to Facebook to "friend" you and add my supportive voice to your FB feed.

  20. Do you know what I admire so much about you? That you speak your mind.

    I do find the American mania for guns discomfiting. To take up a gun, point it at another human being and then take a life is a heavy burden to place on your soul. I think so much of the rhetoric around guns and the right to bear arms comes from fear. Just my opinion.

    As for the young man in Colorado that killed and injured all of those people at the movie theatre, he terrifies all of us because it was random. Random is always terrifying because random cannot be predicted and then avoided.

  21. You are a great, bright beautiful voice in the wilderness Elizabeth. I never fail to feel moved, inspired or simply in awe of your deep, insightful and beautiful musings.

    The outside world looks on at America and its failed dream with the faintest measure of shadenfreud. You were so far ahead of us all, and once represented an illusory ideal to which we all aspired.

    There are still remnants that hint of that faded splendor but for the most part America appears to be a materially obsessed, morally bankrupt bully for whom the rest of us have lost respect. Your political structures are a case in point. Astonishing!

    Keep writing, Elizabeth.Your cousin will get over it if you do. We wont, if you don't!

    xxx elle

  22. That cousin doesn't sound like he was ever your friend.

  23. I wonder why people like to attack others online (or in person, for that matter). Last time I looked, we were living in a country with freedom of speech. If one doesn't like what someone else writes, one can always STOP READING their posts, and GO in peace; no need for violence, verbal or otherwise.

    Happy Birthday to your Swiss sweetheart (a.k.a. The Husband)!

  24. Amen Sister!

    (okay, too funny. my captcha says "i m phoor")

  25. Elizabeth, I have lived ling enough to say with some confidence that you are an advanced human being. Those who would say otherwise should go perform an anatomically impossible act in themselves.1

  26. I love your passion as well and the whole thing--people fighting on Facebook--confounds me so much and I hate it. I just plain hate it. But I do want to say that I laughed in recognition, with an irony I hope will not offend, at the thought of you watching your son, and thinking 'asshole'. I laughed because I've been there--seen my worst in my own kid, and been upset by it all the more because it's my own damn fault, and the horrible position of begrudging your offspring the thing you yourself gave them--there was nothing to do but laugh.



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