I am amazed when people believe the most outrageous lies that each side spreads about the other. So few of us want to listen to the facts. It is wrong, there is no justification for it. It would be a better world if we all made our political decisions based on our heads (intellect) instead of our hearts (belief system). I'm going to start with me.
I think back to the first presidential campaign I can remember. It was when John F. Kennedy was running against Richard Nixon in 1960. I suppose it is imprinted on my mind because JFK was Catholic and I was a Catholic school girl in 1960. We were all so proud that a Catholic was running for president, which was unheard of at the time. It was a different world and there was still deep distrust for Catholics left over from the freakin' Middle Ages! I am NOT kidding. Hate runs long and deep.
I was Roman Catholic because that was how my mother was raised. Her form of Catholicism was very European. Her grandparents immigrated to the U.S.A. from France and Germany between 1850 - 1860. They settled in a large German Catholic community near Chicago.
My father's people were as Protestant as Protestant can be. His ancestors arrived in the Colonies between 1625 and 1714 from England, Germany, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and France. My paternal grandparents were raised Southern Baptist in Kentucky and Tennessee. When they moved up North in the 1920's, they joined a Pentecostal Protestant church.
FYI, I am proud of both sides of my family and their historically different but equally profound cultural traditions. Each family had an original immigrant to America at some point in time. I try to never forget that. It was interesting growing up in a complex and diverse family.
My paternal grandfather distrusted Catholics. It was hard for him when his son converted to Catholicism to marry my mother in the 1940's. My paternal grandparents were Democrats until JFK got the Democratic nomination for president in 1960. Then they became conservative Republicans because my grandfather refused to vote for a Catholic. I guess the idea that a Catholic would run for president made them feel like the world was changing too much. They probably felt threatened, left out. They were used to having leaders who were just like them. They thought if a Catholic became president then he would start persecuting Protestants and the Pope would become the de facto president. It sounds so silly and hard to imagine now, but that was what many people actually "believed" back then.
I was 9 years old. I was trying to understand religion, politics, and family dynamics even though my heart was aching. I was confused and a little frightened to see the people I loved at odds with each other. Luckily, both my mother and my paternal grandmother went out of their way to remain friends. They did their best to reassure us children that no matter who became president, or what church we went to, we would still be a family. It was a great example of how to respect someone you don't necessarily agree with.
My paternal grandmother was a different age, religion, and political persuasion than me. She was also a huge influence on my life. There was not much we agreed on as I grew older and the 1960's Culture Wars ensued. However, I knew she loved me and I knew there was no ideology or barrier to that love. I also knew not to discuss religion or politics with her.
|Grandma goofing around with two of her granddaughters in 1962|