Friday, October 26, 2007

"Only that in you which is me can hear what I'm saying..."--Ram Dass

"Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand anothers' beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them..."--Joshua Liebman

"Tolerance is another word for indifference..."--William Somerset Maugham

My first entry in this blog, now shockingly more than a year old, mentions the fact that I will be, from time to time, writing about more than just my restaurant experiences. I have one of these busy, cocooned lives that most of us lead, and while my friendships are priceless and long-standing, the nature of my schedule means that when I am not working, I am often alone. This solitude doesn't bother me in the least, but suffers in that it is not greatly conducive to in-depth conversation or friendly debate--or at least not until I become wholly schizophrenic and can just carry on with myself.

I cannot expound on my worldviews and civic concerns with our guests, even those who are my friends, as such conversations are simply not appropriate as I function in the role of doting host. As a result, I have in the past and will in the future wax political, societal, and maniacal on occasion here on this page when struck by the need to do so.

What surprises me are some of the comments and activity I have received concerning these "off-topic" musings. In a few instances visitors have left very complementary comments on one of the restaurant posts only to redact them hours or days later, after clearly having read farther into the past and encountered a more political entry. In each case the link attached to the original comment tracked back to an obviously very liberal person--persons that in at least three cases had left me very kind words regarding my writing only to have a change of heart once they ascertained that I was [a dreaded] conservative.

In other cases the comments left have indicated disappointment and/or irritation with my personal views, including a few from readers who had obviously missed the point of the subject posts entirely.

I have to admit real surprise at these reactions. It seems strangely hypocritical to me that these people, individuals regularly searching the internet who have their own clearly opinionated and in some cases very unconventional websites, would be so quick to condemn little old me and my backward points of view.

Recalling an old lesson, I decided to look back through the mirror at myself, and see if I was similarly guilty:

I stop by the actor/writer Wil Wheaton's site every day because I think he is a very impressive guy. In addition to surviving child stardom he has developed a strong presence on the internet and become a successful author. He is a good husband, and even more impressive to me, an excellent father to his stepchildren. He has a great sense of humor, and a clearly self-deprecating manner that is very endearing to me. About 18 months ago I realized that his politics are absolutely abhorrent to me--Wil, after all, is short for Willow--it is clear that Mr. Wheaton has grown up just as one would expect the child of hippies to grow up--politically, at least. He thinks President Bush is a braying retard and that Vice-President Cheney is a money-grubbing anti-Christ gleefully feeding Haliburton the heads of murdered Iraqi children in return for a steady, dirty stream of oil. He will attack Trent Lott, Ted Stevens, and Mark Foley but apparently has never heard of William Jefferson, James Traficant, or Gerry Studds.

I don't care. If I pop on the site and he is going political, I go somewhere else and check back the next day. I won't change his mind any more than he will change mine, but it doesn't diminish his ability to interest and/or entertain me.

I recently pre-ordered Phoebe Damrosch's book, "Service Included", telling of her experiences as a captain at Per Se Restaurant in addition to being a general memoir. In it, she mentions breaking up with a guy because, in addition to a few other reasons, he was a republican. At one point past the halfway point in the text she rips off a paragraph-long anti-Bush/republican/conservative diatribe and then boasts thereafter that the rant should have cleared out the "red-staters". She proudly admits to not talking beyond the bare minimum to her out-of-town guests during the Republican National Convention in New York, just in case they were there for the event.

I read the book in 2 1/2 hours. She's a great writer and has so far led a very interesting life, not to mention being exposed intimately to an organization I have been obsessed with for most of the last decade. Her political foundations seem to me to be, by far, the most immature part of her, but I will pre-order her next book and look forward to its arrival.

I am comfortable that I can take the good with the bad, as I see it, in other citizens [excepting really annoying guests--but that is perfectly understandable behavioral revulsion rather than political or ideological aversion]. I just find it more than a little ironic that so many liberals cannot.


Anonymous William Keleher said...

It is a sad state of affairs that the divisive, finger-pointing politics of people like Tom DeLay and Al Franken have seemingly shoved aside the statesmanship that was present as recently as the last generation.

Unfortunately, it would seem that vitriol rather than efficacy is the path to maximizing contributions. As long as television ad time is allowed to persist as a seemingly insatiable sinkhole for campaign dollars, it would seem we can expect only more of the same.

Political advertising on television reduces candidates to the lowest common denominator: either inflame the masses to get the cash, or get displaced by somone who will.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

another wonderful post, thanks. i am a liberal but i do appreciate your great writing.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Angela said...

I too consider myself more liberal than average, but at my VERY liberal college, I can fully identify with what you are saying. It's true, I can appreciate the knowledge of my liberal classmates, even when their politics by themselves are repugnant. Thank you for reminding us that politics alone do not a person define.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Steven said...

I read your blog regularly and with great pleasure, and I'm beyond liberal. I don't think there's any point in debating politics in this case. Still, I think bad faith works both ways. Many liberals may be unable to get beyond idealogical revulsion, but that's also true of many conservatives.

11:07 AM  
Blogger last one home said...

Absolutely right, Steven. My post obviously applies to this particular page and its' specific dynamic, but I am sure that in many cases the roles could be and are easily reversed. There are so many charred pots and kettles in our proverbial kitchen right now, it is a wonder anything edible ever gets cooked.

8:37 PM  

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