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David__77 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:56 PM
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The Personal in the Political
Why did you become a progressive? I mean, was there a personal event or situation that solidified your identity as a person of the left, committed to justice?

My father was a Vietnam veteran. Many of his colleagues were killed or seriously injured during his several tours. Later on after the war, and after I was born, my father developed post-traumatic stress disorder, and was cruelly abusive to my mother, descending into real disturbance. His experiences in the war truly broke him as a person. And it shattered the possibility of the normal, nuclear family which my own parents so badly wanted.

After they broke up, my mother was flung back into the work force, emotionally scarred by her experiences, with no work experience due to years of being a housewife. The transition did not go smoothly. She was a person who seemingly could not adjust to the dog eat dog world, where you must put aside principle in order to survive and flourish.

I don't hate society, but I do hate cruelty, injustice, and insensitivity of others' suffering. I do hate a system that would send people into an unjust war, the consequences of which will impact not just the soldiers, but their families, and which have intergenerational impacts as well. I want a system based on peace and cooperation, that places people first, recognizing the intrinsic value of all people in a way that the market will not and cannot.

When I read about "welfare reform," I don't think of it abstractly: I think of the real people that will be impacted. How can we best help them? When I think of US bombings in whatever country, I think of the families of those killed and of those injured, of the lives shattered. How can this country conduct a moral foreign policy? And I would definitely NOT think this way, were it not for my own past personal experiences.
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