Our culture’s unspoken mantra is “you live your way and let me live mine.” According to prevailing thought, it makes no difference what we do as long as we’re not hurting anybody. Jennifer Lopez put it well back in 1999 when she said: “You gotta do it your way… Life is meant to be big fun/you’re not hurting anyone/nobody loses/let the music make you free/be what you want to be make no excuses.” Let’s Get Loud is still her most popular hit.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Individualism and freedom liberates us from cultural expectations because our culture is, fundamentally, open. We’re a wide-mouthed melting pot that justifies any differences in beliefs or lifestyle. It’s a don’t ask, don’t tell value system that lifts up the proud American standard of individual independence and freedom to pursue what we think will make us happy. It’s a tough break from the social responsibility and self-sacrifice our independence was purportedly founded on but give us a break! We’re trying to make ourselves happy here! We’ll lend a hand to Haiti and take up collections for Darfur but in our day-to-day existence we’re still a country of self-promoting, self-justifying loners. It’s interesting that even in our loneliness we’re not alone; everyone lives in the same state.
Anyone who has felt it can tell you, loneliness is the absence of freedom.
I’m realizing that there’s a difference between loners and stand-aloners. I’m reading Going Rogue by Sarah Palin. The book was given to me for my birthday a week ago but I’ll be honest, gift or not, I wasn’t sure what I would think of the woman’s autobiography; I’ve been made to scrutinize her more than other politicians right now simply because the media loves to very publically pick at any possible loose threads in her moral fabric. Even the president’s administration stoops to respond to her remarks. You’d think they’d believe it beneath them. The only thing I can deduce is that she must be a threat. After reading only a few chapters of Going Rogue, I’m beginning to understand why.
Sarah Palin jeopardizes the no-accountability, don’t-ask-don’t-tell system; not to mention, she makes a lot of people in politics look bad. First of all, she was a beauty queen, a massive over-achiever, and runs marathons. Her husband is a sharp witted man and Iron Dog competitor. Even more than that though, if we’re contemplating what it would look like for us to stand side-by-side with the wholesome, Scrabble-playing Hockey mom and her family, we can’t help but feel sick about our own broken families and selfishness. Unfortunately, we as human beings are notorious for our measuring sticks. We kill each other (and ourselves) with them sometimes. How condemned and dirty do we feel in the light of a powerful woman with a crystal clean image, a lifetime history of public service, and a close Christian family standing behind her like back-up singers on the podium of American politics? She’s just one woman against a lot of powerful people in Washington, calling out all their dirty little secrets. For Sarah Palin, public service is about standing for what’s right even when, in her field, she’s often quite alone.
I think the Palin family’s inspiration quotient, added to a growing number of grassroots movers and shakers, is making Americans question if we can do better. People are dissatisfied with the partisan, anti-plebian politics we’ve been force-fed lately; the Tea-Party is evidence of the American public’s desire for improved manners. It’s no wonder the mainstream media and the progressive left are pitching a fit. I wouldn’t be altogether opposed if Palin would just give the crying babies a good old-fashioned, Klondike spanking. She’s already a mother of five; what’s a few more?
I analyze very critically everything I see and read and I realize America is doing more of that these days as well. To ignore what’s going on in our society is to ignore people who matter. If we block out everything we disagree with or feel uncomfortable with, how can we make discerning choices? How can we be worthy of every life lost to secure our freedom? We’re not as alone and free-wheeling as we believe we are; whether we like it or not, we are bound to a responsibility for our personal conduct, our relationships, our families, and our government. “You live your way and let me live mine” doesn’t fit in functioning relationships on ANY level. Fundamentally, life is about who you choose to serve.