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Sunday, February 1, 2009

I'm sick and I'm up early on a Sunday morning. Going to meet up with my boyfriend's folks in a few hours, who are headstrong Catholics and, therefore, decidedly "pro-life". Sure, they're nice enough; a modest, unassuming family. I guess you'd even say they're pretty normal. I mean, people are people are people. No matter who you are or where you come from, all people do pretty much the same things: eat, sleep, work, poop, yes? But after a certain point some people cease to be people anymore, while others grow increasingly more people-ish, creating this imbalance in personhood and the schism that divides right and left, pro and anti, etc.

I digress. As I was contemplating said visit to the boyfriend's fam, it dawned upon me that we may begin to get along better from this point forward because I no longer have to lie about where I work. While my current job entails various tasks associated with public health and social marketing research, my previous job consisted of abortion counseling and fundraising. Needless to say, not good news for the folks to hear. This is not to say that I really give a fart what they think about me. I've always been proud and headstrong and the like (a vestige of the strong female history on my mother's side), but out of sympathy for the isolation and condemnation that would rain upon the boyfriend had his parents found out what I did for a living I thought better of it. I mean, when they found out we had moved in together they prayed for months. So I figured we should drop our bombs once at a time. This, my friends, was not an easy secret to keep. Those who know me know that I speak my mind and say things that are frequently inappropriate. It took everything in me not to blurt out a dead baby joke.

So I quickly found my personhood value decreasing, while the fam's grew. I was a liar. I was a sneak. I was less-holy-than-thou. I was bad. They, however, were protected, innocent. They were content in their ignorance, a condition under which I think we'd all be better off. All this to protect my dear boyfriend from their slings and arrows. Which made sense I suppose; I had zero obligation to these people, whereas he was their blue-eyed baby boy (they still sent him Valentine's Day cards, for cryin' out loud). I couldn't ruin his relationship with the dad who taught him everything he knows about baseball, with the sister who asks for homework help, with the uncle who makes a mean rack of ribs. But the personal costs that this lie had for me were pretty big as well. I felt shame. Shame! I don't think I'd ever felt ashamed before. Embarrassed, yes. Humiliated, oh yeah. Awkward, at least twice a day. But to question the kind of person that I am, that I want to be, and feel somehow responsible for the fall of Western society? This was certainly new to me.

And so this begs the question: to what degree are we willing to sacrifice our personhood for the sake of others? To what extent do we second-guess ourselves because of the biases of others? When do we stop worrying about other people's hangups and just be who we are? Because at the end of the day the big umbrella question is: WHO CARES? Who cares what people say, think, do? Don't we have enough going on in our own lives? I don't feel the need to yell from the mountaintops all the things that other people are doing. Do you know how many people are in this world? Hundreds! If I were to worry about all of them I'd never get any of my regularly-scheduled worrying done. By the same token, how can they spend so much time worrying about me? Or you? Or [insert name] from [city, state, zip].

Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare a day. Not for choice, not for life. But a day for indifference, in which we go about our business and do nothing else. Sounds crazy, yes? On this day, we dedicate our minds and our hearts to ourselves and our best interests, and we save the meddling and even the reaching out for another time. Because every now and again we need to stop and reflect on who we are and what we do, and begin to determine with a little more certainty what it is that we plan to accomplish.

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