How old where you when you realized you had a set of beliefs that more closely aligned with one political viewpoint or ideology?
Was there a specific incident, or occurence, that led you to have some kind of “ah-ha” moment? What was it that helped you, or made you recognize, what you believe in?
My personal “ah-ha” moment came while driving a car. In 1989 I was driving home from work during the Tiananmen Square uprising in China, and I was listening to an AM radio talk show. Prior to that moment if you asked me what my political ideological leanings were I would have said “Republican lite”. Meaning I was a firm supporter of free enterprise, and market based solutions, but I was not too concerned with the social aspects of people’s behavior. I had kind of a live and let live approach, and while I most certainly did judge morality from my own belief system, I really was not interested in discussing social issues. Door better kept closed was my logic I guess.
However, after watching the CBS broadcast the previous night, and feeling a sense of compassion for the student protestors in Tiananmen Square, I went to sleep feeling really troubled having witnessed such a horrible display for people lacking simple freedom. Perhaps some of you will remember that the media feed was cut off after a few days because the Chi-Coms were fixing to go all out military on those kids/students (some were not young at all). Their stories were being smuggled out in taped videos via fed-x and all other manner of story telling dissemination that could be used.
Anyhow, after much reflection and some moderate water cooler conversation with friends and such, I found myself stuck in traffic listening intently to a call-in radio talk show where they were discussing the events and eye witness reports. I really felt a sickening sense of horror wondering if those college students were just gonna be shot, buried, and hidden from the world view with no-one ever knowing what happened. I really feared it was going to be the case. The students had tasted some western-style freedoms by 1989, and I think that was the real driver for their call to reform. Back to the radio show….
The host of the program was talking about the Chi-Com government taking a hard-line approach, and the extreme right-wing military was going to crush the uprising. Then the discussion turned to focus on freedom. Throughout the next hour I listened to them talk about the crackdown being a shift to the right on the political scale and all of a sudden a lightbulb went off in my head and I said to myself ‘wait a minute’. A crackdown intended to diminish freedom is not a move to the RIGHT, it is a move to the LEFT. The hard left. Communism and totalitarian regime centralized government in control of life options is not on the right side of the freedom continuum, it is on the left side. The far right side is blatant anarchy with no government at all. Think Viking plunder and loot. That’s the far right. Anarchy and complete lawlessness is an extreme version of freedom, bastardized by survival of the fittest.
So after I arrived home I turned on the stereo and tuned in the station again to continue listening. The callers and narrator were all very insightful and all very eloquent, but they all kept making the same mistake. They were calling it a shift to the right. So I called the station at the next break and was able to connect to the host, who wanted me to continue “on-air” but yikes, no way. I was/is too bashful for that, and thought I might screw up my conversation thoughts, so I just said no, quickly made my case and pointed out my position that the crackdown was a shift to the far left. Then hung up, and listened to the show again while nuking dinner.
To my surprise the host began his next segment with the correction that the prior 2 hours had erroneously scripted the Chinese hard-line move as shift to the right, and he laid out my points about it actually being a shift to the far left. I was pretty proud of myself I must admit. But what really got me interested was the conversation that followed from the other listeners/callers. Like me, they were having simultaneous ‘ah-ha’ moments of recognition, and talking about why their pre-scripted educational talking points had sold them on the rightward shift. The professional Politicos, the educational elites, and many -if not all- professors were selling the wrong script narrative. A few teachers even called in to the show and said they had just realized they too had made the same mistake.
From that day forward I recognized that it is always prudent to pause, consider, and re-evaluate your gut instinctual beliefs when considering political ideologies against actual events. Also, I kind of found my inner voice that said “speak up”, and so from that day forward I openly would engage in discussions about freedom and constitutional principles. I began to read everything I could about the constitution, and foundational politics, framework and beliefs, it became a hobby.
I’m learning and I still haven’t figured out everything, I know I never will. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and only find myself with more questions. And I enjoy learning all about governmental influences.
So that’s me. What about you?
*Footnote, I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to introduce you to a special lady of historical significance. There was a massacre that eventually happened in Bejing and outside the proximity of Tiananmen Square China. The student-led protest which ended in violent military action against the protesters lasted 7 weeks. Within those weeks the life of Ms. Chaohua Wang was changed forever. Martial law was declared on May 20th – For 10 days, the 36-year-old graduate student in literature refused to leave Tiananmen Square in Beijing except for brief negotiations with top government officials and an overnight stay at a hospital after she collapsed from hunger. In the aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown, she became one of only two women on China’s list of 21 most wanted student leaders who defiantly stood up against the military might of their government and survived the ensuing massacre.
Tiananmen Square captured the world’s attention for a month and a half. Many articles written about the Tiananmen Square protests and subsequent massacre refer to Chinese military shooting and killing the demonstrators. While generally overlooked I recall the reason the demonstrations continued for over a month was because regular Chinese troops would not shoot at Chinese citizens who were peacefully demonstrating. The Chinese government finally made a decision on June 4th to remove the protestors and called in “Mongolian” troops (they did not speak Mandarin Chinese) and they had no qualms about obeying orders to shoot the demonstrators if needed.
Following that horrific violence, the U.S. military surveyed our own troops to determine if they would obey orders to shoot American citizens. Almost all said they would most likely
refuse – with the statistically quantifiable exception of those from Hispanic or Latino backgrounds and ethnicities. Subsequently, many people began to claim they saw a shift in recruiting ads for the Marines and Army away from English language programing – and an increase in the same ads on Spanish Language networks and print media. I hold no opinion on the matter.