Friday, September 05, 2008

A non-partisan musing

This is inspired by the coverage of Sarah Palin, but it isn't meant to be political really. I mean, I'm an adamantly unaffiliated voter with generally moderate views on many issues (though certain governmental actions have radicalized me on some) in one of the crucial swing states, but I haven't been undecided for this election for a very long time, so it has no bearing on my vote and isn't meant to influence any else's.

But why even bother to include "she married her high-school sweetheart" in discussing someone's biography? What's the romanticism behind that phrase, really? I mean, what's it say about a person? My first inclination, when I think back to how much I changed as a person from high school until the end of college (and even since then), is to wonder if this fact implies a certain static nature to the person's beliefs and ideas, especially if they were high school sweethearts but then apart during those formative college years. I was incredibly sheltered back then, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as you do come out from that shelter and learn something of the world, but what kind of judgment would I have had then on the kind of person I could live with? And if the judgment proved true, would it mean I was especially wise or just that I didn't allow myself to be influenced by later experiences?

When I consider it more, I recognize that that isn't totally fair--I know people who married their high school sweethearts (if I must use that phrase), and they did grow and change together after that. And, too, I married my college girlfriend, and we've each continued changing during my wife's medical school, having children, moving to a new state, residency... But for me those college years were so drastically formative, and I do see people I knew from before then who don't seem to have changed at all, don't seem to have allowed themselves to be open to new ideas or experiences that it makes me leery to focus on something so banally irrelevant. Should it really make any difference in how people see a person if she married a college beau or a friend of a friend or an online contact or some dude she met in a bar?

Again, this is not an attack on the candidate--I try to keep politics away from my blog for the most part. This is an attack on attaching romantic resonance on something so trivial...and if meaningful, possibly even suspect.

3 comments:

Your Brother John said...

A thoughtful post Dan. We have to take it all with a grain of salt eh?. Unfortunately someone somewhere cares about that fact. Focusing on the trivial can be frustrating. Let's focus on what matters, what is the candidate's favorite ice cream?

Lion said...

American politics is confused when it comes to elections--broadly speaking, it's a nation split into two barely reconcilable political parties, yet we elect a single candidate to highest office rather than the party itself. The media, and perhaps sectors of the voting public if you can believe polls, end up focusing too much on the personality and personal background of the individual rather than actual policy issues. Whether or not someone goes to church can become a major divisive point, when it's really nobody's business. Here in Canada, and I think in the UK too, they elect parties, and the parties choose the one among them most prepared to hold executive office. If we must be tied to the party system, I think that would be a much better way to go about it.

The only personal details that ought to matter are the ones that speak to policy--for example, Larry Craig dallying in the men's bathroom flies in the face of him being a major proponent of DADT. He would have military personnel booted from their careers for doing the same things he indulged in. Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter, a person whose life is definitely nobody's business, may reflect the shortcomings of the abstinence-only education that Palin espouses (though who can even say that for certain, really?). Argh. Crazy image-obsessed country.

Daniel Ausema said...

I'd have to guess Moose Tracks, John. MMmmm, Moose Tracks. Maybe I should change my vote...

Lion...all true, though I'd say there are pros as well as cons to our system, but really beside the point. I see this in other biographies as well, in writer bios on their websites, in newspaper articles about any person who's supposed to be human interest. I guess I just don't associate any romantic cachet to the whole idea, so I don't see why it keeps coming up anywhere.