Apparently it wasn't Winston Churchill who said something like "If one is a conservative when one is 21, one has no heart; if one is not a conservative when one is 31, one has no head." I'm almost disappointed, but only because I can no longer say I disagree with Churchill about this.
Of course there are other sayings about how people grow more conservative as they grow older, and those sayings are probably attributable to almost everyone. So I disagree with almost everyone, at least when it comes to me. (And who else should I speak of? I am a fascinating subject to dwell upon, n'est ce pas?)
I grew up in a household where the politics were distinctly (Canadian) Tory. In fact my grandfather once took me on his knee to explain why (Canadian) Liberals were bad. At the same time, I was exposed to the values of my grandmother and mother, and they were in large part what I used to think of as liberal.
Actually, I no longer know whether that's the right label, since many of the people whose political values I now feel most comfortable with appear to despise the term "liberal" but let's use it because I'm comfortable with it right now.
My grandmother espoused humanist views that were leavened by a sense of class conscious noblesse oblige, but the latter was a function of her being born white and protestant in 1902 and former was a function of her being a wonderful human being. My mother was equally wonderful, and somewhat less burdened with class conscious strictures, although not completely free of them. (I've had to fight that classist attitude in myself my whole life, and I hope I've done it as successfully as I can. Which means, of course, I know I've got a hell of a long way to go, but that's another discussion.)
My political awakening was when I watched, from afar, news of the 1968 Democratic convention and the later trial of the Chicago Eight/Seven, although even before then, I'd been certain that something was just rottenly wrong with militarism and racism and classism and such. The first Ayn Rand Book I read, Anthem, somewhere around the age of 11, bothered me because I knew I was supposed to think of the lead characters as heroic for abandoning people who cared for community, and I just thought they were selfish and stupid. The first and only time I was able to vote in a political election (yes, only once in my entire life and that yet another discussion), I voted New Democratic Party. I joined a union as soon as I was able to and have been a union maid (or matron, at my point in life) ever since.
But I always had a bit of my grandfather in me, too; there was a core of me that wanted stability and unchanging verities, and that, to me, has always been inherently conservative. At best, that's the wish to preserve - to conserve - what is good from the past. At its worst? Something that leads to terrible things.
And partly because of that part of me, I believed in many of the things that unknowingly privileged white kids believe in; that of course police are there to protect you and that the bad ones are the exceptions; that western civilization was inherently good and probably the most civilized civilization, etc. etc. et-unthinking-cetera.
And now, I find myself not believing any of those things. Or certainly believing them less and less. I'm recognizing my own racism, my own classism, I'm trying to check my privilege, I'm trying to be woke and I think that's the right way to be.
So much for getting more conservative as one gets older.
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