Monday, March 5, 2012

Avoiding Tribalism: Or "Miles" from Nowhere

Maybe I am part of the President's Tribe. I am a government lawyer born just four years before he was. But, I didn't go to Harvard (and was rather annoyed by my law professors who did), never worked as a community organizer (I was an LDS Bishop but that makes me more like the other guy), my father wasn't a polygamist (I have to go back four generations - Mitt, three). I wasn't born of mixed-race parents. And I've only been to the airport in Chicago. I can't figure it out why I would be in his club.

I mean, I do seem to have a lot more in common with the inevitable nominee Romney-- solid LDS background, Mormon Mission to a foreign country, former Bishop, large family, good-looking (well, I try). And I have an old friend who asked me in his Christmas card if my feelings were torn about supporting him because, well, I guess he expected it and knew I had voted for President Obama the first time.

I had another friend on Facebook recently accuse me of "anti-conservatizm" [sic]. While I took that as kind of a compliment, I also sensed in his messages a bit of frustration, betrayal or something because I wasn't supporting Romney in violation of some kind of expectation that I should.

I don't even want to go into conflicts I have with some extended family members because I have somehow "betrayed" something I can't quite understand.

There is something inherent in my personality that makes me a rebel against certain frameworks of thought and action. And while never having tried a cigarette or alcohol, I am considered by some to be some kind of Mormon heretic. I could make a list of all the things I have ever done wrong - and right - but I won't. I do feel the words of Aunt Eller rising to the surface from Oklahoma, "Now, I'm not saying I'm better than anybody else, but I'll be [danged] if I ain't just as good!"

Maybe I'll just leave it to this other musical explanation of some of my personality and politics. By Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam (Good heavens! Let's not go into all that!) Just take his words for the poetic sentiment they convey from the 1970s, for what it's worth. (The unintended irony of course being that Miles Romney was Mitt's Great-Grandpa). Nothing's easy to explain:

Miles from nowhere
Guess I'll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there

I creep through the valleys
And I grope through the woods
'cause I know when I find it, my Honey
It's gonna make me feel good

I love everything
So don't it make you feel sad
'cause I'll drink to you, my Baby
I'll think to that, I'll think to that.

Miles from nowhere
Not a soul in sight
Oh yeah, but it's alright

I have my freedom
I can make my own rules
Oh yeah, the ones that I choose

NY Times Editorial on Political Tribalism 


  1. I Stand All Amaazed, 2- I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine; To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine; That He should extend His great love unto such as I,Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify

    O it is wonderful that He should care for me Enough to die for me!
    O it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

    Verse 2 speaks to me personally. My life centers on Him and his Gospel. What another person may think about or insist on how I conduct my life choices needs to monitor their own life and allow me my agency. I will listen to advice given but the final choice of what action to take is mine. I am willing to take the responsibly for those actions because I am the one who has to answer for them. I Stand All Amazed.

    1. Larry, Thanks! It took me a while to realize this was the Larry I know. When I first read it as some "anonymous" Larry I worried a little. I've been getting a few comments I've had to send to spam so I guess I'm overly cautious.

      It's a beautiful hymn and one of my favorites. I see your point that each of us establishes our own relation with the Savior and we can't judge how others do it - nor should we allow them to judge us. Bless you!


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