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leaving and changing

Posted by Not brainy but smart on March 07, 2003 at 17:10:30

Academia turned me into a conservative

It’s interesting to find out how we all managed to find our place after leaving a tightly controlled environment that not only regulated our every movement, but our thoughts as well.

A funny thing happened when I went back to college at 39 years old. I went in as a voting democratic, certain that I was more aligned with the democratic platform of feeding the hungry and looking after the poor, fighting good and just causes, rather than the conservative, so I thought, idea of each man for himself, to hell with the rest of the world platform. Interestingly enough, I came out a voting conservative. Somewhere along the line of my interaction with professors, students, support personnel, new friends and the like, I discovered, I did not like what I was being taught. The good part was, I realized, I was thinking on my own. I had assumed that I would fall right back into where I was at when I disappeared into the machine of TF. I was the original flaming liberal hippie, calling police “pigs,” hated bureaucracy (well, I still do), protesting the Vietnam war, eating health food, making my own granola and running through the hills naked - a la au natural.... I really had bought and lived the whole package. I figured most of that fit in with the “The Beach” cult I had succumbed to, so after leaving, I reasoned, I should resume my former mind-frame.

I spent a lot of my time on campus talking and making friends with a wide array of students from all walks of life. One thing that stuck out to me was the glaring dilemma of single moms. Most had been dumped by husbands wandering off after some elusive dream or just plain not wanting to take responsibility for their offspring. Even though I was not single, I still understood their pain as I had been in that predicament for several years before I was remarried. I knew their loneliness and sudden helplessness trying to care for several children while attending school and hoping to find some sort of financial stability or solvency. For most, it would be a mere dream they would not be able to obtain. Most did not have a decent car or enough self esteem to make that exhaustive push for getting ahead.

I nearly became the head of our little group as I proposed that we should start a club with a monthly newsletter and meeting. If I hadn’t had 8 kids at home, I would have done more to help them and make the rest of the world more socially conscious. Alas, I left them to their own means and went on securing a job in my desired profession.

My point is, it was through these ladies that I realized just how much I agreed with the conservative stance of responsibility. I agreed that hard work and not becoming dependent on social institutions was the way out of such a mess. That no one can truly help you except your own self and ones own pure grit and determination. My ideas were cemented when I witnessed the foibles of Clinton and his shenanigans in office while the American public shrugged their shoulders or blamed it on a Republican conspiracy. If you were outraged you were simply a right-wing blue-nosed conservative Christian that lived a self-righteous lifestyle. I found that line of reasoning horrific.

I learned a lot in college, books opened up something to me that settled somewhat my fuzzy mind which had been turned to mush by my cult indoctrination. I had a sociology class that I really enjoyed. But when it came to the section on sexuality I was disturbed. What disturbed me was the belittling of people who wanted to wait until marriage to have sex. That was simply not an option, we were told. One must experiment and experiment grandly or you could not possibly have a good marriage since you would be ignorant. That boggled my mind. Tell that to our parents and grandparents who lived out their lives often in happy marriages and never having the experiences we did and do. It scared me too, coming from a fairly recent lifestyle where just that was being practiced and for me it was nothing but ugly. Why not give people the option at least and commend them for their fortitude rather than belittling them enough so that they sit quiet in the corner, afraid to speak. That was scary. Reminiscent of cult indoctrination where opposing or differing opinions were ridiculed and considered undesirable. So there I was. I realized that the bleeding heart liberal in me was nothing of the sort. Helping people was much more than doling out money or providing an institution though all that has its place.

So all that to say, how did you form your opinions once your mind was loosened of the control previously in place?