Considering the acrimoniously partisan and ideologically obdurate times in which we live, it’s amazing my dogs speak to each other, let alone me. One is a mixed-race conservative who commits hate crimes against socks. The other is a Retrievertarian with a substance-abuse problem (he digs Halls Mentho-Lyptus).
And then, scales falling from my eyes, the foundation of our convivial relationship became apparent. My dogs are minorities. Despite being a person of pale color, so am I.
My status as fractional outlier stems partly from my disinclination for organized religion. I’m not Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, Hindu, New Age, Druid, Satanist, Shinto or Sikh. Neither am I atheist or agnostic. I have spiritual convictions but possess zero desire to inflict them upon others. While many theologies feature a worthwhile array of wisdom, they frequently espouse dogmatic precepts that contribute to upset stomach and that not-so-fresh feeling.
I’m all about equality. It annoys me when religious folk ring my doorbell and proselytize on the front step. I’m proportionately irritated when atheists hold forth the arrogant and condescending notion that religious folk are as dumb as squirrels.
But I digress; let’s return to my newly minted minority status.
According to the 2014 Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center, I’m categorized as one of 22,228,700 Americans unaffiliated with religion but for whom faith is important. I guess breaking metaphorical bread with 6.9 percent of the total population isn’t that bad.
If only it were so. Factor in my meandering social and political views, and that genial percentage drops like a stone.
For instance, I’m extremely pro-gun; a candidate’s Second Amendment stance is often my litmus test. On the other hand, I’m pro-abortion, and credit Planned Parenthood with providing invaluable services. I’m actually so pro-abortion that I sometimes feel it should be retroactive, meaning I favor the death penalty for heinous crimes. I’m all-in for embryonic stem-cell research and physician-assisted suicide. Contrariwise, I’m anti-globalization, pro-Trump and anti-Clinton.
I voted for Republican Eric Greitens in the Missouri gubernatorial primary, but am leaning toward Democrat Chris Koster in the general. The nod will go to whoever, prior to the September session, most strongly supports legislative rejection of Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of Senate Bill 656 (which would loosen gun laws).
I support legal immigration. I’d gladly grant citizenship to America’s undocumented Hispanics in exchange for booting 3 million conservative fundamentalists and 3 million liberal extremists. I’ve known myriad Hispanics over my life, and as a whole they’ve been some of the kindest, most generous, good-hearted people I’ve ever met.
I freely admit I lean far more right than left. But my proclivity to eschew mob mentality, political correctness and unwritten societal dictums has rendered me a minority. I’m too conservative for most liberals, too liberal for most conservatives. Our citizenry and institutions largely demand a “you’re either with us or against us” mindset.
Following the pack is easy; there are safety and acceptance in numbers.
My conjectures, conclusions and asymmetrical opinions have — over a three-decade writing career — provoked cognitive dissonance among friends, foes, editors, readers and certain breeds of livestock. Heck, I’ve been a journalistic pariah for years. Most newspapers consider my column radioactive, and job offers are scarce as hen’s teeth.
I can gladly live with that. After all, in terms of belief and opinion, I’m a minority.
I hope, in your own unique and individual fashion, that you are, too.
Ron Marr’s column has appeared in Missouri Life magazine for over a decade. Marr, who lives in Bates County, can be reached via www.ronmarr.com.