I had a long phone conversation last night with one of my very dearest and oldest friends, Steven. Steve lives in Florida now, only comes home to Massachusetts every few years, and is missed tremendously by his friends.
He drifted into politics during the conversation, hesitated, and expressed surprise that I agreed with his position. Both of us were young republicans many years ago. Steve, who hasn’t been around to see me change, had assumed I remained as conservative as I was when passion was the driving force in my very-young life. Interestingly, he also seemed to think our liberal friends were just as left-leaning as they were years ago.
Life doesn’t work that way. Steven was motivated in his political choices by a very, very conservative father. I liked his dad, but found that he was flawed by perspective the way all of us are: each generation has dark places in their vision. We came of age in a time when herpes was scary; AIDs was terrifying; and embracing misconceptions about sexuality was easier than trying to open our minds and learn.
But life happens, and people grow if they are smart, open, good individuals. So it was natural for us to leave our simple existence in a small town, go forth into the world, and discover that we’d been taught to think and feel in ways that weren’t relevant or useful outside that small place. It was grow, fill the new space, and change… or become ingrown, tangled, and crippled by our limitations.
So now my conservative friends have joined me in the more moderate center of the road. And my liberal friends have drifted to the center, too. We differ on things like the economy, foreign policy, and big or small government. We agree on nearly everything else, and tend to ignore party lines.
We are going to hear a lot about “flip-flopping” from both sides this year. I, personally, have a great deal of respect for a person who will say “I got it wrong; I learned some things; I changed my mind.” Every person I know and value in my life is capable of change and growth. I could never follow a leader who wasn’t.
Change is good. Moderation is good. The middle of the road is a cool place to be.