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The Writings on the Stall

Saturday, 2004-02-14

i am [not] completely my own person

Below is a response to a question (in italics) posed in my American Government class. It's being posted here because of the energy thrown behind my response.

I am completely my own person, having learned about government and politics on my own, and fashioned my political beliefs and values without being influenced by others or outside forces.

Although I am completely my own person, I've learned quite a bit about government and politics from others. My political beliefs and values have been influenced by others and by outside forces.

My mom (a Democrat) once said that she and my dad (a Republican) never vote because their votes cancel each other out. Needless to say, that attitude hints that my parents weren't politically active.

Where then, did I get my politics, if I indeed have been influenced by my surroundings? The Chinquapin School in Highlands, Texas, outside of Houston. Looking back, it's easy to see the liberal-leaning stance of the place that I called home for six years — Chinquapin was a boarding school. The school focused on minority lower-income students. Being one of only three white kids, albeit poor and white, I found myself as a minority as well. Chinquapin was a firm testament to the successes of affirmative action. In order to graduate, one had to be accepted at either a college/university or enter the armed forces. 98% of alumni have attended college in the last 20 years. Surprising?

Not to me. We were all given a chance, something which cannot be said for all in public school systems today. 98%! And we were poor and/or black, Hispanic, Asian, and white. Yet color wasn't considered, once at Chinquapin. At times I felt I'd been persecuted for the color of my skin (and what an incredible opportunity to have roles reversed, to see race issues from another side). It hit me one day that this may be because I was simply different; in nearly any setting, difference will be singled out. So I don't look back on my peers with scorn, but with understanding.

I've realized (since graduation) that my American History and Government professor — small school so he taught myself and my classmates four years in a row — was/is undoubtedly liberal. His impact hit me, though, long before I was capable of realizing his political stance. His party affiliation has since never been revealed to me, which I've found to be a respectful policy for teachers of an impressionable young mind.

Around the time I started becoming aware of my own politics here, in college, I became very close friends with a conservative. If it hasn't already been stated, I identify myself as a liberal, and a liberal one at that. This friend and I clashed. But in a great way, as his intention was to help me solidify my beliefs instead of squashing them (as others could easily have). He opened my eyes to new viewpoints and I imagine I opened his.

This friend has since moved on, leaving me stronger and better equipped to defend what I stand for. As I politically socialized I found myself looking for alternative viewpoints. All viewpoints, in order to gain a full negotiated grasp of where I stand on the issues.

These are only a few moldings of my ideologies, yet there are countless other instances available for the telling. People are (at the least) indirectly affected by what surrounds them. If not for others, than definitely this is true in my life.

Right now, I find myself in an open space. Everywhere I turn, my ears and eyes are positioned to find something new to be learned.


2004-02-23 17:20 / Brook:

Hey man what's going on? Itz been a while since we've spoken. I enjoyed reading your post. Yeh, I def remember things being hard for you at Chinquapin and it takes a lot not to negatively internalize such an experience. Right now, I have obstacles of my own that I am facing up to on this campus. There has been a marked turn to the right since the break and that has not boded well for organized socialists or progressives generally. But anywayz, I just wanted to let u know that I enjoyed reading your posting. Hit me back with an update on your life and things developing on your campus.

2004-03-31 16:36 / Adrian:

"... and fashioned my political beliefs and values without being influenced by others or outside forces"

Can anyone truly say that they fashioned their political beliefs and values without being influenced by others or outside forces...

I cant see it. From infancy onwards we are fed information. We use this information to make choices and to foster ideas.

I am me, an individual who has been provided sound knowledge and a good education which I used to forge my political, religious and life choices.

Great site mate. Keep up the good work.

2004-04-14 13:53 / Jonathan Horak:

Adrian: Thanks for your contribution (and your praise).

"Can anyone truly say that they fashioned their political beliefs and values without being influenced by others or outside forces..."

What was funny is that a number of people in the class did say this.

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