Confronting the Past Part Ten

I think it’s time I got into the juicy stuff; politics and religion. Before you all start running for the hills, no, I’m not going to deliver rants on either subject. Rather, I am going to talk a little about my own journeys through the looking glasses of politics and religion. Let’s do the politics today.

I grew up in a politically very conservative household. As I think I mentioned elsewhere, my mother, who was born in 1923, was a member of the Hitler Youth in the late 30s. My Grandfather, her dad, was NOT a supporter of Hitler. My mother really had no choice, though, about joining the H-J. Given all the propaganda and crap she was exposed to, it should come as no surprise that some of it did rub off on her.

My father grew up Tsarist Bulgaria. Monarchies tend to be very conservative, and the Bulgarian monarchy was no exception. Also, because of his very conservative upbringing, my father was sympathetic to some of the ideals of the Nazis, never realizing that he would ultimately have been sent to the Death Camps because Hitler had no use for Slavs.

It should come as no surprise that my first foray into politics was on the Republican side. My parents obviously supported the Republican party and especially people like Barry Goldwater. I think my dad probably would have loved Rush Limbough. It was not until I went to college in 1966 that I really got exposed to a more left-wing view of the world. I started out in 1966 by demonstrating against Dow Chemical Company, the makers of napalm, recruiting on campus. From there, I moved on to a more general opposition to the war in Vietnam. When I was suspended from college in 1968, my draft status changed from a student deferment to 1-A, prime meat for the trenches. I tried to apply for conscientious objector status, but what was told only people belonging to certain religious groups qualified. So, I made tentative plans to move to Canada if necessary. Fortunately for me, 1968 was the year they instituted the draft lottery, and both my brother and I got very high lottery numbers that were never called up. If you were not drafted in the year you are eligible, you were free of any future obligations to the military, unless you chose to enlist (which I did not). As time went on, I became very much a pacifist and remain one to this day. To me, war is a stupid and futile way to try and solve differences. However, I do agree that, as long there are countries or groups or individuals that feel that violence is the way to make their point, we do need to defend ourselves. The last time we really had a legitimate reason to defend ourselves was World War II. The 9/11 bombings were not, and are not, a valid reason for war.

After ending up in Chicago in 1968, I got involved in some rather dubious radical activities, of which I am not very proud. Fortunately, I never hurt anyone or destroyed and property. My views have tempered considerably since then. This temperance is closely tied to my religious development. But that’s the subject for next time.

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