Monday, November 17, 2008

Can You Please Walk About Ten Feet Behind Me and Pretend We Don't Know Each Other?

I recently finished reading Judy Blume's Superfudge to Jack. In the book, the main character Peter is embarrassed when his younger brother Fudge plays a significant role in a school assembly. Peter slouches down in his chair, trying to hide.

Jack asked me why Peter was the one who was embarrassed. Why wasn't it Fudge? He was the one doing crazy things?

I tried to explain to Jack the whole idea of guilty by association. We were soon to go to the playground. I said, What if I walk around the playground and fart loudly all over the place?

Jack gave me a frightened and worried look.

I asked, Would you be okay with that or would you be embarrassed to be seen with me?

He said. Embarrassed to be seen with you.

Lesson taught and lesson learned.

Last night, I got my first email newsletters from Kevin Rudd! I was thrilled. Jack and I watched the enclosed video together. It was about the global economic crisis. I turned to Jack and said guess who's to blame for that one?

He said. Us?

Yeah. Pretty much so. No, Jack and I didn't single-handedly cause a global financial crisis. But we're citizens of the country that has caused a huge chunk of the world's current financial problems. It's a bit embarrassing.  I've wanted to sink down in my computer chair as Peter did in his auditorium chair.  

Guilt by association.

It's not fair. Right?

Then neither is pride by association.

If I relinquish my duty of being completely humiliated when Jack has an outburst in public, I also relinquish my right to be a proud mother when he does something brilliant in public.

When I was in college, I went through a total Jewish pride stage. I thought being Jewish was awesome. I loved the fact that so many cool celebrities were Jewish. I was so proud of being associated with people like Steven Spielberg and Adam Sandler. Then in 1994, a Jewish man opened fire on Muslim people praying in a Mosque. Several people were murdered. I felt very ashamed.

No, I did not personally kill anyone. But it's not fair to be proud of my ethnic association with Billy Crystal, yet at the same time deny an association with a murderer.

If I'm going to be proud to be an American the night that the first black man is elected president, than I have to have some shame over the George W. Bush presidency, Japanese internment camps, slavery, what happened to the Native Americans, the war in Iraq, etc.

The thing is though.....I think a feeling of shame is all the punishment I deserve. I am STILL an innocent. I don't deserve to be killed in a terrorist attack. I don't deserve to have my reputation stained because of these associations.

When the stuff about Obama's association with Reverend Wright came out, I wanted to say to people, what about all your associations?

I don't think any one of us can say that we completely avoid associating with any person who we morally disagree with. We all have relatives with political beliefs that make us cringe. Some of us have friends or family who have been convicted of crimes. We all have weird branches on our family tree.


All of you reading and commenting on this blog now have an association with a vegetarian homeschooling mom who doesn't believe in God and believes she gets spiritual messages via her dreams. You are all now forever tainted.