When I bring complex or troubling issues home with me, my principles instinctively apply themselves. In natural surroundings and familiar circumstances, I find my heart and the answers I need to work around talking points, campaign rhetoric, corporate double speak, and baseless opinions. Then, with my principles in check, it is much easier to leave the small world of home and consciously apply those same principles to the complex and troubling issues in the huge world outside.
For example, when someone comes to my home thirsty, hungry, cold, sleepy, or in pain, I offer drink, food, a sweater, a pillow, or an Aleve™. When I look someone in the eye, I do not wonder if he has a sandwich in his pocket that he is too lazy to pull out, or assume his pain is fake, or that it is punishment for failure to properly worship some god. I don’t smack her down and tell her to grab a bootstrap and find her own drink. I don’t begrudge a Coke, a sandwich, or an Aleve™, or cry over the hard-earned sixty-five cents I wasted on someone who isn’t me. When I bring it on home, I want everyone to be comfortable.
If I take those same principles out the door and into my community, I donate time and resources to food drives and shelters. I check the winter-help box on my utility bill and pledge a dollar toward heating a low-income home. Beyond the community, my country awaits my contributions through awareness, taxes, and action and my world provides agencies that will bring ‘me’ home to others when I can’t get to them.
At home, I open wedding invitations and mark my calendar. Sometimes, I think it might be too soon or they are too young. I have even fantasized about jumping out of my seat at that part of the ceremony where we always keep our piece, to say he surely hasn’t thought about how she will nag forever and she’s crazy if she thinks he is going to keep a job. In the end, however, I know the decision to marry belongs to them. The same principle applies to everyone out in the bigger world, regardless of any misgivings or misguided opinions I might have.
At home, I try to resolve conflict through verbal communication and compromise, understanding others, making new rules and promises, and making a rational plea for what I deserve. I would never purposely punish one child for the misdeed of another. I would not (at least willingly) allow people to take what is mine, lie to or about me, and fail to defend myself. I would not fire weapons into my neighbor’s home, kill his wife and children and destroy everything dear to them because I think he might be an abusive husband and have a gun hidden somewhere in the house. The same principles kept me from chanting bomb them back to the stone ages on September 12, put protest signs in my hand before we invaded Iraq, and made me denounce the administration that tortured in my name.
At home, I know my actions and decisions make or break my life. I thank the breadwinner and the cook for my meal. Outside my home, I thank the farmer who grew my food, the people who prepared and delivered it to me, the agencies that protect me from those who would harm me for profit. I am grateful to the doctors who keep me alive, to the people who help me physically, emotionally, and politically. In the bigger picture, I attribute the condition of our world to the humans who protect or destroy it. At home, the words I’m sorry, I love you, and how can I help mean nothing without actions to support them. I take credit or grief for my contributions and failures and expect the same actions – not prayers or promises – from humans in the bigger world, not super-beings in the sky or their imaginations.
When someone claims to like my new couch while propping his muddy shoes on the seat, I know his action speaks louder than his words. When he says he hopes I get well soon but stands between me and the doctor or medications I need, I know he wants me to believe he hopes I get well but he does not honestly wish that. When he says he prays for my safety yet decries funding the agencies and departments that keep me safe, I know he hopes I will transfer responsibility from him to his god. I recognize the same dishonesty outside the home, when you claim you care about me and then smear your muddy shoes on every bill that would prove it.
Stuff happens at home. Sometimes it feels like everything falls apart at the same time, usually when I can least afford to replace or repair them. As much as I hate debt, I know replacing an engine costs much more than a tune-up, and if I don’t repair the brakes I could hurt others, so borrowing money to maintain is wiser than standing firm on my vow to live debt-free. Investing in education and new tools might enable me to increase my income and ease the next disaster period. At home, I realize it is necessary to reconsider and update my vows as circumstances change. Leaving home with this one gets complicated since my principles tell me it is important to maintain necessities and to stay out of debt. However, when I look at what is in the best interest of everyone concerned and for the future, going into collective debt with the people outside my door makes sense.
At home, I feel the consequences of short cuts. The first time I bought cheap toilet paper, I realized I get what you pay for. The same is true outside the home. My government gets what it pays for.
I’ve grown weary of people who talk about values but show little evidence they intend to do anything more than whip out the word or promise to pray for their god to deliver what they are too lazy to think about or do. I want my home filled with friends who appreciate intelligence and honesty, who care and share, and who are not afraid of words like liberal, social, intelligence, and taxes. I want friends who read, discuss, and care about things that matter and who would not criticize anyone for wanting facts or challenging lies, or for caring more about people than things. I want to know that the people I associate with live ethics and morals instead of preaching them. I want to be around people who know that everything in life involves politics and beliefs, so refusing to discuss these topics would only mean they don’t care about life. I want the same things in people I associate with and support outside my home.
I say it is time to stop wasting precious time and energy on the same circle-debate regardless of the issue. Until both sides bring the issues home, attach and own the principles involved, the discussion will go nowhere and will accomplish nothing. If I had my way, the Democratic Party would adopt Bring It On Home as their only campaign slogan. It already has a really cool song to go with it and it would clearly demonstrate the difference between honest progressives and your party of no.