A couple of people posted on my last entry that the reaction to what I had written showed the power of my words. It was nice to think of it that way. But the fact that the reaction was the exact OPPOSITE of what I was looking for when I wrote the original column doesn’t make me feel powerful–it makes me feel impotent against the rising tide of politically-inspired ill will–even hatred–among Christians with opposing political views. Here’s the last installment of my story.
As if having the hierarchy oh-so-gently suggesting that I what I had written was not authentically Catholic was not enough, soon the newspaper was inundated with letters to the editor, some of which did not just attack my arguments, but went after me personally. I was obviously just a liberal looking for any excuse to vote for John Kerry, said one. (Come on–was anyone THAT enthusiastic about voting for John Kerry?) The truth is that I have AGONIZED during every election season from 2000 on over what vote to cast. That fellow Catholics would presume to judge me in print–essentially proving my original point, although that was cold comfort–was painful. If my files weren’t ashes now I would share more of the comments with you.
By the time the letters appeared in the paper, I was on bedrest awaiting the imminent arrival of Baby #5. I couldn’t leave my bed to vote in the election–how hysterical is that? As one of the few–but much appreciated–supporters wrote in, how many of my detractors were pro-life enough to have given birth to five children?
Yes, there were supporters. That was perhaps the one positive result of the experience at the time–I heard from (not often in writing though!) several people who I never would have guessed felt the same way I did–people who thanked me for speaking out and encouraged me in my belief that I hadn’t done anything wrong–people who admitted they were afraid to let the rest of the Catholic community know how they felt for fear of judgment. Some of them literally WHISPERED their thanks in my ear!
THAT’s what I was writing about. THAT is what I wanted to speak out against, what I naively thought my words might change.