Friday, October 22, 2010

Things I've learned from liberals, and from life

(Title (though not content) from ).

"Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten" is a popular poster, catchy phrase, and full of wonderful platitudes about playing nice and sharing, not stressing out and enjoying life. I realized that it perfectly sums up the worldview of my liberal friends, on an utterly fundamental level. That is the touchstone of their identity - their ten commandments.

The problem is not that the things they believe are untrue, and when dealing with civilized, polite, productive working society, they are not necessarily wrong. It's that this is not all you need to know, even if it is all you want to know.

Life is not kindergarten, and there are fundamentally destructive, selfish, immoral, and evil people out there. There are fundamentally morally corrupt, sick, and evil cultures out there in the wider world, and here at home. People without integrity respond to incentives regardless of their destructiveness to self or society. The world itself is not a nice place, and nature is harsh from microbiology to hurricanes. If you think that the world plays by the same rules you want to, and fundamentally believe that everyone wants to be nice and decent... you have yet to graduate from kindergarten.

Which explains why my friend is still chafing at the unfairness of the world, and wanting someone, somewhere, to enforce fairness - for "the government" to step into the role of the kindergarten teacher. It's why some people are trapped into wanting, not the freedom to be themselves, but wanting to be the teacher's pet with their freedom praised and celebrated at the expense of others. Why some are working so hard to declare themselves as the cool kids, the elite, at the expense of everyone else.

Life isn't fair. It isn't safe. It's full of ugly parts, and stinky messes, and hurt, death, anger, pain, and tragedy. It's full of joy, wonder, beauty, unlooked-for blessings and unhoped-for miracles. If you accept the painful, thorny gift that is adulthood, and bear the responsibilities and burdens of maturity, then you will find a life full of laughter, friendship, exploration, joy, thrill, and love that you could not even dream of from the small self-centered coddling of childhood.

On a personal note, life has brought crippling injuries, and chances to climb mountains. It's brought bad love affairs brought to messy ends, and bittersweet partings that led to good friendships. It's brought chances to fire submachine guns, and cross-country road trips to friends I'd never met but already knew. It's brought the opportunity to move to Alaska, and the motivation to leave. It's brought a man from the other side of the world who loves me til death do us part, and being parted for more than half of our first year of marriage. (Words cannot express how deeply I appreciate and rely upon his love and support while we are apart.) It's brought friends who are amazing and beautiful souls, wonderful, creative, interesting people. It's brought chance encounters with the most fascinating people, and kindnesses from strangers. It's brought a plane whose wings were built by one of my grandmother's schoolmates as Europe went down in flames and the Japanese plotted to attack Pearl Harbor. It's brought malnutrition, and it's brought fresh-baked bread by my own hands. It's brought the aurora dancing across the sky all around my plane, and it's brought being stuck with good friends in ren faire garb by a broken down van on the inside lane of heavy highway traffic. It's brought a bone-deep pain that will never go away, guaranteed to get worse as I get older, and friends who welcome me into their home as a several-month-long guest.

But most of all, it's brought opportunity - and life is what you make of it. All I'm guaranteed is a birth and a death; the rest is a gift in all its pain and beauty for me to explore to its limits and relish. I wouldn't trade it back for a childhood for anything - there are so many more things to do, to see, to try! So many places to go! So many memories to make with my Calmer Half!

I'll never get a single second back, and while it hasn't been fair, it's amazing. I can only hope that when I go, I leave this world a better place than I found it, and that when God brings me to that final accounting for all the rights and wrongs I have said, thought, and done, he has mercy upon my soul.


  1. Beautifully said D. You can't know how glad I am - and fun it's been - to be on a couple of those pages in between. :)