Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dedicated to Todd

Todd and I were in the Army together and we hit it off immediately -- he was a print journalist at the post newspaper, I was a TV/radio broadcaster. Our offices were in the post Public Affairs Office and we spent many hours together between work and our homes in the barracks, which were just one floor apart.

Todd is insanely smart -- probably to this day the most brilliant person I've ever met. He is snarky, funny, judgmental as hell, and professes to have only one moral. I know the truth, though. He is principled and strong, he fights for his idea of what is right, he is doggedly determined and relentless in his perfectionism.

Todd grew up in a major urban center in a nuclear family like mine -- mom and dad who are still married, a son and a daughter, a dog, a station wagon. His dad was a union organizer and had risen to a high position by the time we met.

I was a die-hard liberal even then. We argued politics a LOT. See, despite his union upbringing, Todd was a Republican. I know. Odd. But he and I talked about it. We talked about fiscal policy, about social issues (which he was slightly more liberal on), about political history, about strategy, about EVERYTHING. Much to the dismay of most of our friends, who would leave the room protesting when we got into a discussion. We argued passionately.

Every single thought I had, every position I held, every fact I spouted in those arguments was held to the highest standard -- his. I lost a lot of arguments. But I won a lot too. We would concede, grudgingly, when the other had emerged from the battle as the victor, often saying, "But I still hate you with the burning intensity of a thousand suns."

We watched L.A. Law together every week. We traveled together. We spent so much time together that at one point we had our entire office convinced we were engaged. Which was a problem for me, as my social calendar was pretty full of military hotties at the time. LOL

Todd was my best friend in the Army. When the Marine Who Must Not Be Named dumped me, I went straight to Todd's room. His bewildered roommate let me in even though Todd was nowhere to be found. As I sobbed, I could hear him talking to all the other guys on the floor (also my friends) and telling them he had no idea when Todd would be back and no idea what to do about the girl crying in there. When he finally got back (much to the relief of Skippy, the roommate) Todd listened to me asking, "Why?" for hours. He walked around Gordon Field after dark (against regs) with me for more hours. He let me pound on his chest and drip snot on his shirt and never once told me to knock it off or that he was tired of listening to me.

I tell this story because we never came to an agreement on politics. He is still a Conservative whose idols are Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. I still identify as a Liberal and I have volunteered for the Democratic Party for years. But we had tremendous respect for each other. We held each other to our own high standards for ourselves. We both have spent hours explaining why we feel and think the way we do to each other, listening to criticism and delighting in the back-and-forth of our exchanges.

I am a better Democrat because of him. I suspect he would credit me with making him a better Republican. We challenged each other and never lost sight of the fact that we were friends. Neither of us resorted to name calling or meanness. We didn't have to; we used facts. We read voraciously, we watched as much news as was available in the age before the internet, and we talked. We had mutual respect and that was why it worked. We were respectful, even in our most violent disagreements.

So if you disagree with me, fine. I am okay with that. But be respectful. This is MY blog. If you really don't like what I have to say, don't read it. I don't watch Jimmy Kimmel because I hate him. I don't listen to Howard Stern because ... ewwww. If you don't like what I say and you cannot avoid bitchy, snarky comments that demean and belittle me and anyone who agrees with me, then go away. I do not have to justify my beliefs to anyone who comes here insinuating that I am an idiot or who attacks people solely on the basis of personality, looks, or media stereotypes and perceptions.

I got my Liberal label from the school of Todd. He kicked my ass regularly while I was earning that distinction, and somehow we remained friends through it all.

I have strong beliefs. I back them up every day as one of those much-maligned "Community Organizers." I contribute to my community EVERY DAY. I believe in the "It takes a village" philosophy. We are all responsible for each other. I work hard to make a difference. This isn't a new thing for me; I have been a volunteer for years -- since I was a teenager. I didn't do it so it would go on my college applications, I did it because there were causes I believed in and I knew if you believed in something you had to work to make it work. I joined the Army for the educational benefits, but it was not a decision I made easily. I knew the potential costs. I also knew I believed in the values of this country and that I was willing to die so that others could have the same freedoms I treasure, particularly the right of free speech. So you're welcome. My sacrifice (and believe me, it was one) and that of countless others gives you the right to shoot off your mouth indiscriminately. Isn't that Bill of Rights great?

Every day I am working to make the changes I want to see happen in my community. You may disagree with me as to what those changes should be, but you had goddamn well better respect the fact that I am out there, boots on the ground, working hard BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN IT. While you -- in your smugness and omniscience -- sit at the computer and type pathetic little messages to someone you have never met. Seriously, isn't there a better use of YOUR time?

1 comment:

  1. I've never understood why differing of opinions turn into personal attacks. It's illogical and just downright rude.