At what age did your political views begin taking shape? Who were some of the people who had a significant influence on your early views? How much has your viewpoint shifted over time?
A recent article in "The Week" claiming our political views are shaped in adolescence has me reflecting on my own political evolution. Before starting college in 1967, I don't recall giving much thought to politics. Early in my freshman year, a classmate asked about my view of the Vietnam War - I remember feeling a bit dense; I didn't have any opinion about it. If my parents ever talked politics at home, I must not have been paying much attention. Consequently, although I'm sure they weren't progressives, I don't know exactly where they fell on the political spectrum or their opinion of Vietnam. I strongly suspect any influence they might have had on my early views would later have been superseded by my college experience.
One clear recollection I have of the early development of my politics was wanting to avoid becoming as bigoted as some people around me. To this day, I do not know what made this important to me at the time. And I also remember the discomfort it caused my conflict-averse Mother when her obnoxious teenage college son confronted others. That hasn't changed much. Just today, listening to someone casually tossing around generalizations and stereotypes about "...everyone who works for government...", I lost my patience and confronted the individual. Mom wouldn't have been happy.
I have "snapshot" memories of moments when I recognized inequalities between the sexes. I recall sitting on the rock wall in front of my house at 5 or 6 years old or so, wishing I was a boy, because boys obviously had a better deal in life. Wondering why my parents roles were so divided and so unequal. Thinking that life as a girl just wasn't fair. Then, another snapshot. Me at 15 or 16 years old, standing at the magazine rack in Root's Confectionery in Westfield, NJ reading the first issue of Ms. magazine. It felt like they were writing just for me.ReplyDelete