A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Genetic Political Opinions?

Do you ever wonder how exactly you arrived at your political opinions, spiritual beliefs, and outlook on life? 

I spent some time today looking at family pictures.  Not family pictures as in from my childhood or pictures of my own children but family pictures from several generations ago.  I don’t know many stories to go with these pictures.  Mostly they are just faces and names and this is so and so’s father and such.  But I wonder how much of who I am has roots which go back that far or even farther.  How much is rooted in my childhood?  How much is human nature combined with life experiences?  How much genetic? 

How does a farm girl from a decidedly red state end up being a bleeding heart liberal?  How does someone who was born and raised in the bible belt, indeed who has never lived very far outside of the bible belt, come to beliefs which border on agnostic, or heretical by some definitions? 

I could try to fool myself into thinking I have some greater sense of compassion or superior reasoning capabilities, perhaps a broader mind.  I could lend credit (or blame) to my parents saying it is a combination of my mother’s feminism and my father’s practicality.  I could credit anyone who ever taught me the Golden Rule and those who taught me logic and say everything else kind of naturally rolled from there.  Or perhaps it is a generational thing, growing up in a time after the Civil Rights Movement, after the Vietnam War, when diversity started being seen as a good thing and questioning authority was seen, in some circles, as a virtue. 

But, I can’t help but wonder if it is just part of the way I am put together.  Maybe there is a bleeding heart liberal gene.  Maybe my political views, which are so different from so many of my neighbors and many of my family members, are really not much different from the way some kids look just like their parents and some nothing at all (with no adulterous explanations.)  Maybe it is just a combination of my genetics and the way my particular brain works. 

Probably it is some combination of all of the above and still it is neither to my credit nor my blame.  It just is. But that doesn’t mean I can’t work to change the parts which are unhelpful or stray from the Golden Rule. 

Like learning how not to judge my neighbors even when I find them immensely frustrating. 

How about you?  How do you think you came to think as you do about politics and faith and life?  What can you work on and what is just the way it is?


Charlene said...

Heh. I have a definite narrative about how I came to my current views (though I don't know that I want to lay it all out in a public forum). And I believe that I can change anything I want to change, though there are things that might take a lot of convincing to make me want to change them. ;)

Sheri Ellwood said...

I am sure that would be an interesting narrative, Charlene:) But how much of the way you responded to those events is due to genetics, the chemicals firing around in your brain and such? And how much was due to ancestry, the way you were raised and the way your parents were raised and so on whether due to rebellion or acceptance? For example my sister pointed out I sound much like my mom a lot of the time and when thinking where she got her attitudes I realized her father being an immigrant from socialist Denmark probably had a big impact. Yet, I agree we can change if we want. Some changes would be healthy and some perhaps not.