Awakening – Part II: With A Little Help From My Friend

(Continued from Awakening – Part I: The Beginnings Of Political Fascination)

By now, you’ve figured out that the girl in Part I is me. But I hadn’t figured it out till I got a good look from a different perspective.

Let’s go to 2010, about a year after the election of the young senator from Illinois to the Highest Office In The Land.

I had been enjoying my inclusion in the world of politics. I talked about how great the president was, how smart and how eloquent his speeches were. I collected magazines that featured him on the cover. I bought a Special Edition that featured all his speeches. That was mostly what I was seeing. I was still not as interested in policy, and was definitely not interested in any other Party but the Dems.

When the Tea Party began to emerge as a movement, I was aware of it, but I scoffed. It sounded so trivial. So not-serious. So rebel-without-a-cause.

{Personal Interjection: All along, since well before my peripheral interest in politics, I had “met” (using that term in quotes because the face-to-face hasn’t yet happened but the friendship had) a man (to protect his identity, I’ll refer to him as “J”) whose political leanings were not really that important to me. We had other things in common and were enjoying the things we did. Everything from art, to music, movies and books, common mindsets and complementary values – those were what defined the friendship.

We never talked about politics.

Correction – I did. I would (I realize now) go on and on about this exciting new development. The election was an emotional time, the inauguration had me watching my television in tears of awe, and this man listened to me prattle on without ever opposing my views.

I think I knew he was not a Liberal. But because there was so much more to what we ever discussed, it wasn’t important. So as much as I do know about him, it’s odd to not have been aware of his political leanings.

This is important because in my Awakening, he plays a key part. THE Key Part.

It should be noted that he is a hunter. And that from the beginnings of our discussions back in the early part of 2000, I was learning about hunting; how it was not illegal, immoral, or cruel. His philosophy of hunting is not for sport; his Native roots have guided him all his life, and learning about how HE hunts, how he thanks the animal for giving its life, how he uses every part of the animal in every way possible, and how he does NOT hang the Trophy on some macabre man-cave collection wall, I began to not only accept, but embrace hunting as a practice. 

I also began to ask him to teach me about guns. I became aware that there were many people blaming the guns for all the evils in the world. It didn’t sit right with me. I have known people who have died in car accidents, in terrible falls, and the headlines – though peppered with gun violence – also speak of drunk driving deaths, pool drownings, stabbings, and every other method of death one can imagine.

I began to understand that guns are merely an instrument, not an evil. And I began to defend law-abiding gun owners.

Operative word: began. This was very early in my awakening but I was seeing the Other Side a little more clearly every day; and it was no longer the Dark Side, but becoming lighter with everything I learned.}

Okay, 2010 – floating along in Obamaniac Mode. Defending why I, as a woman, did not pull for Hillary. (Looking back I realize my then-fellow Liberals slotted – either you wanted the woman or you wanted the black guy and you wanted them BECAUSE of that, not for any other reason).

In 2009, Obama made a speech in Cairo, essentially condemning Israel for building settlements. Stating that the USA did not recognize or accept the legitimacy of those settlements. And I was unsettled by that. It wasn’t enough to sway me but future events would.

Israel is an integral part of my soul. Having visited, the land and the spirit of the country are inside me emotionally. As a Jew, I am an automatic citizen of Israel. I have always stood up for the rights of Israelis to live in peace. And I have always had a deep-seated fear that Israel’s enemies would seek to destroy all she stands for, and more.

In 2010, Obama began to make announcements that a Palestinian State would be achieved within a year’s time. I could see this was naive and next to impossible; without Hamas being ousted as part of the Palestinian government, without the Palestinians outright declaring they would accept a Jewish State, how could this happen?

And I began to question the Administration’s position on Israel. Because how could he stand for Israel AND be advocating for a Palestinian state the way things were?

Disillusionment was knocking at my door.

At the beginning of 2011, tragedy struck in Arizona. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head in a mass shooting at an outdoor event she was holding. The world watched yet another Live Event as it unfolded. News stations rushed to announce Rep. Giffords had died of her wounds. Updates brought the welcome news that she had not.

But it was the immediate fallout that began to nag at me: Sarah Palin, the oft-ridiculed (shamefully, I was one) former Governor of Alaska, Republican Vice-Presidential candidate in the 2008 election, was suddenly on the hot seat. Palin, it was said, was directly responsible for the shooting as she had used the graphic of crosshairs on a map to “target” the “battleground” states. Being the Democratic Representative from Arizona, Gabby Giffords was in Palin’s crosshairs, and therefore MUST have been targeted by Palin who must have encouraged the shooter in some warped way to actually shoot Rep. Giffords.

It didn’t make sense to me. There were others on that “map”. There were other states, other candidates. And how did anyone draw a line between a map with a little graphic on it to a disturbed shooter opening fire on men, women, children even if his target had been the Congresswoman? Just how closely were people watching the tiny details like these? And…could it be true?

I began to discuss my questions. I began to see that not only was it ridiculous, it was malicious. Palin was no more responsible for this shooting than I was. It seemed that my friends – the Liberals with whom I had freely, actively, and happily exchanged political discourse, were viciously attacking Sarah Palin for her part in this shooting.

I definitely took my courage in hand when I began to swim against the tide on a friend’s Facebook page. I argued that it was not only premature to draw any conclusions, it was utterly illogical.

I then faced a deluge of hostility. It rose until my friend’s husband posted, “It should be noted that Lissa is Canadian. A hike should be taken.”

I was taken aback.  I was shaken. I was humiliated. And then I saw red.  I blasted him for his short-sightedness, told him I would no longer bother him or his wife, and did what I had not done to date on Facebook: unfriended and blocked them.

But I was feeling a stirring sense of realization. I was no longer who I had been just some short months earlier. It began with my discomfort over how the administration was treating Israel.

It continued with the illogical accusations being made against a woman living in a remote State that wasn’t even part of the lower 48.

And I began to emerge from what felt like a groggy nap.

It made me start to question everything. What is the problem in this picture? Why are people so hostile when all I did was point out the facts and the illogical direction their arguments were taking?

And who was I?

Here is where J comes in – I told him what had happened on that Facebook page, and how it had made me feel. I was confused as to how I had been treated. How is it suddenly my nationality made me a pariah? How is it, when never before, my opinions are being vilified – and me with them?

J explained that I was starting to see that Truth, and Facts, are not always popular.

Here’s where details get fuzzy.  See, if I could, I would recount exactly how he helped me to navigate being on this side of the Divide. But I can’t – the details run together because just as suddenly as I was wildly unpopular, I was also beginning to feel a lifting of the veil. And it began to speed up, taking me with it so that the former mindsets I embraced were becoming blurry as they passed behind me.

J would encourage me to explore. He never told me what to think, or where to find my sources. He knew that the educator, researcher, and critical thinker that I am would find the credibility in what I read.

And I did. I was able to separate out the extreme viewpoints – on both sides (yes, there are right-wing extremists and no, not all conservatives hold them near and dear). I was able to cross-reference the more credible, reliable sources by the “About” tabs on their webpages (a skill I urge everyone to do, no matter whether you are researching politics or how to keep chickens in your yard).

Did I lose friends on social media? Yes. I lost one so-called friend when I posted on my own wall, and she somehow believed I had posted it on hers. She actually blasted me for making her friends uncomfortable. (While this is not a piece about social media, I will take a moment to assure you that it doesn’t work that way – what one posts on their own wall stays there unless there are tags involved – in this case, there were none)

She “unfriended” without much fanfare after her tirade.

And while it bothered me at the beginning, I now smile in full knowledge that those who leave my milieu due to political discord were never people I would have enjoyed outside of the political arena either.

But as I continued in what J terms my “Awakening” (and truly, the visual fits), I began to see things palindromically. Things that had happened while I was still in the thrall of Obamania, believing what the mainstream media was feeding me, understanding now that it was a spoonfed, poisonous ideology that somehow the rest of the world was not catching onto as such.

Frustration set in.

I was suddenly seeing Liberal mentality everywhere. Like the optical illusion that, once seen, cannot be unseen, I was recognizing the Liberal Mindset in media, in friends, in commenters on websites.

I began to wonder if people really do believe what they are spouting or if they are toeing some collective line out of habit.

I began to watch Fox News, ever defensive of those who scoff at it as “Faux” and accuse the network of making things up (in defense of Fox, I found statistics conducted by objective researchers who found that it is not Fox that manufactures news but that this very accusation is what is manipulated to discredit the network).

I changed my homepage from to (that was a proud moment for me).

I began to shed my previous skin which had become too small, too constricting, too unbearable to wear.

And I came out as Conservative, proud of it, speaking up with truth, facts, and logic. I got *gasps* from the leftist friends I shocked, questions from many who believed I was going through a phase. And newfound respect from those friends who are not leftist but who suddenly revealed to me that they, too, hold to the values I was now embracing.

(Never mind the reactions I got from people who found out that I was now a card-carrying member of the NRA – that was fun!)

Scandal after scandal began to rock the administration. I expressed the relief and belief that finally something would be done, finally something would give, finally someone in the White House would be held to account.

When none of that happened, my frustration grew. My disconcerting fear of “what will it take?” overtook the exhilaration of enlightenment.

I began to express the tongue-in-cheek theory that liberal media’s sole purpose of existence was to see to it that my head exploded on a daily basis, à la Kenny McCormick.

But in all the frustration, discord, outright vitriol I encountered in traversing the Internet and spreading the Truth, and bewilderment at said vitriol, I began to feel something else.

Something positive would grow.

(Part III)

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