April 2018

Sunday, December 19, 2010

P. S. 26 The Winter Solstice

Every year we celebrate light in the darkness with a solstice party. We decorate our home with lights and candles and the season's religious symbols from various faiths, and we invite the same twelve people every year to join us.

The celebration is sort of like the movie Same Time Next Year except that there is no Alan Alda and as far as I know there is no sex. Our friends who see one another only this once a year quickly move into in-depth conversations about the state of their lives and their spirits.

We are a mix of faiths, occupations, gay and straight, ranging in age from 44 to 66. We are a diverse group in some ways, but last night ten of the twelve of us were wearing the same brand of socks: Smart Wool. Two pairs of those who attended wore matching patterns.

I think SmartWool socks also tend to be worn by those who are politically liberal. I'm pretty sure no one there is a Republican or a Tea Party member. In some ways, we are a diverse crowd, but in others not so much. We mostly wear the same socks, for example. Each of us would describe ourselves as politically liberal. We are all women, and I'm pretty sure we all listen to NPR.

I think it's important to understand perspectives of people much different than I am, but I don't often seek them out. When I lived in Dallas, I would watch tele-evangelists on the t.v. from time to time, usually after "This Week with David Brinkley." I realize I still generally seek out other perspectives when it's safe and convenient.

Today in the doctor's office I read an article in People magazine about the Palins. This is my somewhat weak attempt to understand popular culture, but both People magazine and the public's apparent fascination with Sarah Palin astonish me. I feel more befuddled after reading the article than I did before.

Sarah Palin shoots a gun and teaches her daughter to shoot one. The magazine had photographs of this, and this I understand. She's aligning herself with the NRA, and at the same time she's challenging the perception that those who shoot guns are men. Besides, shooting a gun with accuracy is fun. Back in the day, I shot at targets. I was a pretty good shot.

Where the Sarah Palin phenomenon gets a little weird to me, is where she and her family are on a reality t.v. show: she, her husband, and all of their kids, including one who has Down's syndrome, and adding in a grandchild. Her family's on display. I understand that much of popular culture watches these reality shows, but doesn't the whole drama seem a bit undignified? And does it not it appeal to voyeurism? Somehow I associate prudishness with the right, so this gaudy self-revelation doeswn't fit my understanding of the right.

The Palins take ten percent tithing literally and identify as Christians, but Sarah Palin never attended a specific church. Now, mind you, I admire her tithing, and the lack of a specific church affilation seems lonely but doesn't bother me. Still, I'm surprised her religious independence plays well with the right.

I certainly acknowledge that my research has been shallow. I'm not sure how to understand this Palin phenenon. The conservative journalist George Will I understand, and I always hated it that the most intellectual voice on This Week was the Republican's voice, but at least he helped me understand and respect another perspective. He and I have similar values in some ways. We both value informed opinions, articulate logic, and a respectful sense that one is listening to those who disagree.

George Will has always seemed like someone with an informed and considered opinion. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, seems to argue  that being informed isn't important for public officials. Being one of the guys, especially a beautiful one with spunk and a good shot, seems to be what's important. It's not so much that I don't understand Sarah Palin. It's that I don't understand those who follow her.

I am more perplexed about the Sarah Palin phenomenon now than I was before reading that People magazine article. I want to understand, but I doubt next year's Solstiec Party wsill include anyone wearing Tea Party socks. I wonder if people in the Tea Party wear a common sock: maybe red, white and blue with a made in the U.S.A. tag. That would reaffirm my apparently uninformed stereotype.


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