I was home in Pittsburgh, PA visiting my family and, ironically, at the same time as the Obama announcement on his support of Gay Marriage.
I knew this, because my family plays Fox News constantly-as do many of the bars, restaurants, and even stores in the area. I tried to block it out and go to my ‘happy place’, but politics surrounded me.
Now, as a San Franciscan, I know to avoid all political talk when I travel-especially around my family.
But, it came at me from unexpected places-family picnics where the discussion would suddenly change – “What IS going on with all those freaks out there, Autumn??”
As if I’d personally made each vote alongside Nancy Pelosi or dolled up each tranny. (Well, only once for a Sister of Immaculate Indulgence).
Why was I suddenly everyone’s Token Liberal??
I was tempted to point out my own personal experience-that as a person who has been involved in medical sales for 10 years, I’d seen more abuse and mis-use of legal drugs far more than illegal ones. (Endless news reports of Oxycontin overdoses filled the new on the nightly forecast).
Or, that, after growing up around failed and miserable marriages-my best example of long lasting love is that of the gay couple who lives above me (who have been together for 30 years and still hold hands when they walk down the street).
It shocked me to find those who chose to argue politics with me: my friend’s husbands, cool cousins and strangers who would launch into debate as soon as I declared I was a San Franciscan. Mind you, I have many, many cool, liberal friends who watch Colbert and Jon Stewart and share my beliefs. But, I ran into hard-core Republicans more than I’d expected.
I came home, THRILLED to be back in my chosen city, but bummed that I felt so removed from my hometown peeps. After all, I’m a PROUD Pittsburgh-er. Anytime I meet another person with a 412 area code, I believe they must be a good person-and they usually are!
Then, as I talked to my dad about returning to the place I love, he admitted “You freaks certainly know how to have a good time out there!” and I honestly told him that my upcoming weekend included hula hooping and doing tons of yoga. (Mind you, he is a former hippie who has smoked plenty of pot and is more fiscally conservative than socially).
Then, as it usually does, my yoga taught me the lesson I needed to learn. I went through a book of yoga quotes and found the folowing:
“We must learn to love those who think exactly opposite us. We have humanity for the background, but each must have his own individuality and his own thought. We must learn to love the man who differs from us in opinion. We must learn that differentiation is the life of thought. We have one common goal: and that is the perfection of the human soul, the god within us.”
The next time I talked to my family, I realized they are GOOD people at heart, albeit surrounded by people with fear-based thoughts. But, maybe they need to see more examples of people with differing opinions, like myself, who are freaks, weirdos, and lefties-but still someone they can talk to, barbecue with, and love.
And, maybe I need to practice some tolerance myself-put my yoga in action-even when it’s a Rush Limbaugh clip on Fox News…