Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Serious Odds-n-Ends

The Shakespearean Festival was grand. They did some really fun things with Much Ado, and I was very impressed. 1776 was equally as good. It was very intense, and it made me think hard about a lot of things, as it always has and does. I came home with a renewed love of liberty and of America, along with a deepened resolve to participate more actively in the promotion of the liberty that our Founding Fathers fought so hard to gain.

One of the first things I did upon my arrival back at home was to destroy my DVD of The Majestic, a movie from about two years ago with Jim Carrey. In just the last little while, I have become more and more upset over the bias against McCarthy and McCarthyism. Only recently have I discovered that McCarthy was right -- the people he prosecuted were proven in the 1990s to have been spying for the Soviet Union and passing on classified government information with the aim of undermining the democratic republican society of the United States. It has made me very angry to realize that no one ever offered me that view of things whenever I've learned about Senator McCarthy, and even more angry that I never thought to challenge what I was taught about him. While in high school, I didn't learn about McCarthy in U.S. History, or in U.S. Government. No, I learned about him in English, when we read The Crucible and compared the Salem witch trials to the communist trials in the 1950s in America. Never once did I ever hear anyone argue that maybe -- just maybe -- McCarthy was right. Now, all the so-called truths I was taught about McCarthy have finally been challenged, and I find that I have to side with him in the end. I have to say that I think he was right in what he did, and all the liberal media artists that have been making me think McCarthy was evil incarnate make me more angry than I have been about anything before. It makes me wonder if there weren't really witches in Salem.

Moving on, though, I had a really interesting conversation with my brother and sister-in-law this weekend. We talked a lot about perfection. The conversation pervaded the entire weekend, really, and it was quite fascinating. See, Travis has been realizing that he has been programmed from early childhood to think that if he's not perfect, he's not good enough; that if he's pleased with something, then there must be something wrong. I hadn't realized myself how I've been programmed the same way, until I had this conversation with him. He greatly appreciated a story I told him about when I was a freshman in college. I called home and got my dad on the other end. Since he speaks fluent French, I was excited to tell him that I had gotten a French test back that day, and that I got 99% on it. His response: "Well at least you have room for improvement, huh?" Now, in Dad's defense, he said this in a joking way, and I don't think he ever meant it to be taken quite so seriously. But I do think that he believed it. That kind of thing has gone on a lot in our family, and it has done interesting things to us. I think that's part of the reason why my oldest sister rebelled against Dad in any way she could -- she learned German instead of French, she got involved in debate and not in physics, she became a feminist liberal Democrat instead of a traditionalist conservative Republican, and she became somewhat estranged from the Church. My oldest brother all but dropped out of school, and I suspect it has something to do with the attitude that, "If my best isn't good enough, why should I try at all?" I know it's had some adverse effects on me, and I did't even realize half of them until this weekend. Actually, even now, I don't think I realize half of them; but I know about twice as many as I used to. It's been an interesting few days, noticing little things about how judgmental I can be when I ought to just let myself be pleased with my or someone else's efforts. There comes to mind an aphorism that my religion teacher once shared with us: There are days when enduring means getting out of bed. That may seem somewhat unconnected to the perfection issue, but I believe it is very pertinent; namely, because it demonstrates that we don't always have to do everything and be everything, but that as long as we are giving our utmost, that is enough.