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May. 22nd, 2008 at 4:57 pm
(Update on next screening of Nobody Knows: Saturday June 14th at 12:30 p.m. at the Museum of the African Diaspora, as part of the San Francisco Black Film Festival.)
It’s no secret on the bloggernacle: My family supports Barack Obama. Bruce went to the Utah Democrats’ convention and got a bunch of Obama signs and bumper stickers. Our son put one on Bruce’s car.
Now comes the problem. Or not. We are aware that some people have rather passionate ideas about Democrats, and about Obama in particular. I would guess our neighbors all support McCain. We don’t worry so much about our neighbors, but taking our politics into the Missionary Training Center is another matter. So Bruce has devised a little cover for the bumper sticker, which he puts on as soon as he arrives at the MTC.
I don’t lie about my politics, but we are focused on entirely different things when we’re with our missionaries. We recognize that in an atmosphere energized by the likes of Hannity and O’Reilly (or Obermann and Cafferty), passions can detour us from our best intentions. We choose not to broadcast our politics in that particular place.
Several months ago, one of our sister missionaries announced in our opening meeting that she was a strong Hillary supporter. During the first week, she was eager to get all of the political news, which I gave her. By the second week, she said that she was choosing not to think about politics while at the MTC. She hoped she could send in her absentee ballot, but her thoughts had left the political arena. By the end of her eight weeks with us, politics were completely out of the picture.
I don’t believe I ever told this particular missionary that I am a Hillary detractor, that I can hardly imagine a worse choice for president. My job was to help and to love the missionary. Why on earth would I let my Obamanism interfere with that?
When she comes home from her mission, the presidential race will have long ago been run, and she will have experienced it distantly. The fact that Hillary lost will be rather insignificant.
I love Keith Obermann. He is my official Obama drug-dealer, and makes no effort to hide his bias. But this too will end, and then the next president will take on the issues bequeathed by the Bush presidency. Whoever wins the presidency will serve and leave some kind of legacy, and then we’ll do this again. There will always be competitions.
One of the funnest things in the MTC is to find a couple of missionaries who had once competed with each other in HS. Sometimes, it’s hard for them to bury the rivalry and remember that they are now teammates. (I recently had a conversation with someone I competed against in HS debate. We spoke only briefly about those rounds [neither could remember who won] and then talked about our children. Our concerns have long since left the tiny rooms where we made our persuasive speeches and hoped to get higher scores than the other competitors. We meet now as friends and fellow servants.)
We sometimes forget how insignificant our differences are, or sometimes how futile our arguments are. I wish we sang “God of our Fathers Known of Old” more often. Kipling wrote it. The final verses say:
The tumult and the shouting dies;
Far-called, our navies melt away;
I love being an Obama supporter, but there are far more important things in my life than his strategy. I have no problem covering his name when I go to the higher ground of a much higher campaign.