callistahogan: (Default)
Throughout the nearly two years I've been on LiveJournal, I've met many people.

In the beginning, most of my friends were people I had met through various online communities, and they were people I had known for about a year and a half. My entries were predominantly centered around my Christian faith, since at that time I had just been to one of the best lessons ever given at my youth group, and it had changed my perspective. I wrote many entries dealing with the crucifixion, creationism, and many other issues besides.

During that time, the person who commented the most on my entries* held views completely opposite to my own. While I was a devout Christian, she was a strong atheist. While I read Left Behind, she argued with me about the accuracies enclosed in the book. While I argued my cases against abortion and gay marriage, she took the opposing viewpoint. I remember clearly the anger that swept through me when I felt belittled for my beliefs, and when I wanted to end the debate but she kept going.

Nothing we could say could sway the other, and after a while, the arguments escalated to a point where I had to ban her for a period of time. The ban was lifted, but at that point, I had felt so belittled and looked down upon for my beliefs that I couldn't handle it.

Little did I know, however, that things would change. I suppose it happened when I realized just how liberal LJ was; reading other peoples' entries made me realize that LJ was a leftist community—intensely so, in fact. It was probably then that my viewpoints began to shift. I was still strong in my opinions, but reading other entries about hate crimes did not make me feel comfortable.

One other person* who came to my LJ during that period of time in which my viewpoints were still conservative was a Christian like me. At the time, she felt like a breath of fresh air, away from the pollutants and contaminants that were injected into my faith while reading liberal entries. She understood me, agreeing with my previous opinions about gay marriage and abortion.

It felt like the sun was rising. The sun was shining brightly, and it felt right and correct to be holding the views I did. Nothing compared to the feeling of waking up to a comment praising me for being so wise for my then-fourteen years of age or a comment that said that she agreed completely with me.

It was at that point that I began thinking in earnest. I questioned the opinions that had been drilled into me since birth, almost, and wondered about the entries I had read previously. I read the comments of liberals who commented on my entries, and it seemed like they did have a point. For the first time, I realized that maybe I was being prejudiced.

I paid more attention to other peoples' entries. I remember several posts about abortion, in which some people brought up good points that I haven't quite forgotten—and both my liberal and conservative friends brought up points both worthy of merit. It was around this time that I started looking at both sides of the issues, and as a teen just figuring who the hell she is, I started to grow frustrated with the liberal-conservative war, wherein both groups try to prove to the other that their views are “right” and that their views will “save America.” Blah, blah, blah—it was boring to me. Boring, and pointless.

I realized that there was no point in butting heads with people whose views were different than mine. While I don't run away from debates—not anymore—I realized that it was pointless to be so stuck in my viewpoints that I couldn't change. Who was to say that the conservative view of things is the right thing to believe? And who was to say that the liberals got it right?

No one.

My breakthrough on one issue happened when I was called a bigot on one certain entry months ago. And not just a bigot, but a “bigoted cunt.” I received anonymous bashing when I wrote an entry after Maine legalized same-sex marriage. Although the anonymity of the people responding upset me, it almost made me realize hey, look here. My pants are down. Why don't I pull them the hell up?

Slowly, I realized that when I thought the sun had risen months ago when someone else outside of my immediate family believed in the conservative values I had been born in, it had in fact not appeared. If anything, the sun had set at that point, blinding me to all of the bad in this world that occur in broad daylight. Instead, the sun rose months after that entry, when I finally couldn't say: Well, I won't deal with this right now. I'll just say what I wish would happen and ignore that my ideal situation would never happen. The sun illuminated the fact that I had to finally make a choice. No longer could I stand in the background and shrug noncommittally. I had to do something.

All of the comments over the years took a toll. I would be lying if I said that my views would have changed if I hadn't been exposed to LiveJournal. For example, if I hadn't read the entries regarding RaceFail '09, I never would have realized how prevalent racism still is in today's culture, and I wouldn't have known to pull my pants up when my ass was showing.

I owe LiveJournal many things, but to me, it's truly been a way to meet people. LiveJournal exposed me to so many different people: liberals and conservatives and independents and Christians and atheists and pagans and artists and writers and straights and gays and bisexuals and bookaholics and fandom freaks, just to name a few. And everyone, from that very first person who debated with me on LJ to my dear assless sisters (inside joke) and the people I've met here on LJ Idol, has shaped part of who I am.

And now that my views are finally something I have a measure of peace with, I felt sunny and light—like I can take on the world.

Or maybe, you know, just make some new friends.

*Names withheld, because I don't want to point the fingers at anyone in particular.

--

This has been my entry for week 12 of [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. This week, we had to work with a partner. My partner was [livejournal.com profile] in48frames, and her entry is here. Our votes are combined for their totals this week, so if you like my entry, head over there and vote for her as well.

Date: 2010-01-31 05:56 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] greatalexanders.livejournal.com
Definitely an interesting entry - fun to hear about your ideological evolution (yes, yes I did use that word, yes it was intentional :P ) as well as useful to hear about what triggered it; good post, m'dear.

Date: 2010-01-31 06:51 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] callistahogan.livejournal.com
Haha, funny. :P

Thank you. I find it surprising to reflect on how much my entries have changed over the past few years. It's mind-boggling!

Date: 2010-01-31 06:38 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] wheatear.livejournal.com
I admire you for being so open about how your views have changed like this. You seem to be doing pretty well at this LJ idol thing.

Date: 2010-01-31 06:50 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] callistahogan.livejournal.com
Thank you. :)

I'm a little surprised at how well I've been doing in the competition. I never expected, really, to be in the top 100, at least not in my first year!

Date: 2010-01-31 06:50 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] wheatear.livejournal.com
Top 100! Congratulations!

Date: 2010-01-31 07:29 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] maribou
maribou: (Default)
I really enjoyed this post. (And I've been enjoying watching your views develop as you mature too, if that doesn't sound too old-fogeyish to be borne;).)

Date: 2010-01-31 08:33 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] elfishscallywag.livejournal.com
Aaah I love this entry! I love you! What others have already said and what you yourself have noted (which is the best thing of them all), I so agree. You already know I think it's wonderful when you're like this.

Date: 2010-01-31 09:28 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] horosha.livejournal.com
Aristotle once said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." That is, a strong mind is an open one. Going further, though, it takes a certain kind of maturity to be willing to change your own views--particularly ones you and those you know have defended in the past. I applaud you for having that maturity :)

Date: 2010-01-31 10:23 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] onda-bianca.livejournal.com
Very interesting to see how things changed for you...

Date: 2010-02-01 01:58 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] twistersflower.livejournal.com
A very thought-provoking entry. I love seeing you evolve (did someone else use that word?)

The thing I have never understood about conservatives being opposed to gay marriage is that marriage is such a conservative institution you'd think they'd be for it! I can understand conservatives (including many gay women) being opposed to some of the promiscuity in the gay (mostly male) community. But marriage is about as stodgy as you can get!

I identify with the lj fighting thing. With me it mostly happened when I would write about my feelings and someone else would use that as a launching pad for an ideological rant.

Date: 2010-02-01 03:20 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] java-fiend.livejournal.com
Like you, I owe LJ a great many things... being exposed to so many well thought out, well written and intelligent people. I don't agree with all of them but healthy discussion and debate is absolutely critical to developing our own thoughts and beliefs. Good on you for being so open minded as to question those beliefs that were drilled into you for so long. It's never an easy thing to do and many people don't have the courage to do it. So I absolutely applaud your strength and your courage.

And I think "anonymous" bashing is one of the more cowardly things around. What was said to you for daring have a different opinion is just wrong.

I always enjoy reading your entries and this one is especially sharp. Really nicely done.

Date: 2010-02-01 04:48 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] bitterlight.livejournal.com
LJ really has a way of acting like a crucible, doesn't it?

Date: 2010-02-01 07:22 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] joeymichaels.livejournal.com
You know, I think President Obama hit the nail on the head the other day at that meeting he had with the Republicans - when you demonize somebody, you lose the ability to have a rational conversation with them.

There are so many more points of view than just "liberal" and "conservative," but we spend so much time putting other people (and sometimes ourselves) into those little boxes that we often don't pay any attention to the substance of what they have to say. Indeed, sometimes our own self-identity is so dependent on being able to say we're part of a particular political movement that we are unable or unwilling to recognize that maybe - just maybe - the other side has some points.

My colleagues and I like to say "always assume good intentions" when it comes time to debate or negotiate something. Its much harder to just ad-hoc disagree with somebody if you assume they also have the best intentions at heart.

Sometimes, its hard for the artificial sides in the political debate to believe this - and sometimes assuming good intentions is very, very hard to do. But if we always assume the "other side" are evil and dreadful, then we're really trapping ourselves as much as we're trapping them.

Anyhow, thought provoking entry!

Date: 2010-02-01 12:28 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] callistahogan.livejournal.com
YES, that is *exactly* my perspective, and why I hate that it is only possible in US government to have either a Republican or a Democrat president. So often I see good points on both sides of the aisle, so to speak, but they're obscured by party lines. That's why I'm glad to be an Independent, because that sort of keeps me apart from party lines. :)

Thank you!

Date: 2010-02-01 10:50 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] baxaphobia.livejournal.com
Nicely said. I'm a lot older than you but People on LJ have broadened my horizons immeasurably. They brought me out of my sheltered little world and forced me to think.

Date: 2010-02-01 04:29 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] risingtofall.livejournal.com
I wish more people who cmoe from a conservative Christian background were as open minded as you are.

Date: 2010-02-02 12:00 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] shadowwolf13
shadowwolf13: (Default)
Part of what I've loved about LJ has been all the different view points I've found in my 8 years here. Very well written.

Date: 2010-02-03 03:24 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] poppetawoppet.livejournal.com
I've always been a liberal, but even my few short months on LJ have opened my eyes very, very wide. So I feel you. What a powerful thing for you to learn.

Date: 2010-02-03 05:52 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] zia-narratora.livejournal.com
I don't like calling people "liberals" or "conservatives." That's not a criticism of your piece-- I think your piece is wonderful.

I feel like these ideas are something that we see in the media, that don't exist with individuals, until it becomes a case of having to "buy the brand." Liberalism and Conservatism have become nothing but brand names in today's society.

There is no reason why a person can't be in favor of abortion rights but feel uncomfortable about the prospect of gay marriage. There is no reason why a person can't support gay marriage but be unsure of affirmative action. There is no reason why a person can believe affirmative action is necessary but not buy the concept of man-made climate change. And there's no reason a person can't be concerned about global warming but feel like their faith tells them abortion is wrong.

I'm not saying I would necessarily agree with all those choices, but the idea that we have to be on one side of the column or the other is one manufactured by the media that has discovered that they make more money off controversy and hate than off no-brain choices and love.

Date: 2010-02-03 07:15 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] agirlnamedluna.livejournal.com
Definitely interesting to see how much influence an online community can have on young people and their beliefs and how it can help people think for themselves. I'd lie if I'd say the same didn't happen and that I hadn't been give many points to reflect myself, it's great how the internet *can* work in a positive manner.

Date: 2010-02-04 01:42 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] karmasoup.livejournal.com
This season has really expanded my concept of friendship... I've made connections here with people I never would have considered before, because, I've never done the "strictly online" form of communication. I've been surprised how much I actually do look forward to interacting with some folks out here who are halfway around the world. It's nice to broaden your horizons from time to time. I guess a lot of us can still learn those lessons at any age. Good for you for getting a head start.

I do think I have to know more about assless sisters, though... :P

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