To the editor:
I grew up in Western Maine, a rural area, comprised of many conservative and lower-middle-class families. I identified, and even registered, as a Republican in my first election in 2008. I thought that the Republican viewpoint was tried and true, because that’s how I was raised, and I didn’t have enough exposure or examples growing up to know better.
As a 13-year-old in 2003, I found the topic of politics to be dull and couldn’t really follow the conversations that were happening.
Mostly, I was confused, as I didn’t understand why people I looked up to were saying things I didn’t agree with. I didn’t understand why I didn’t agree with them, because I really didn’t understand what they were even talking about.
It wasn’t until college that the pieces began to fully form. Wait, what’s wrong with being gay? Why does it matter that he’s Black? Why are you upset about universal health care? I realized, hey, I’m not a Republican!
A pivot point was 9/11, when I was 11 and began to appreciate and understand the complications of the world, and how politics can affect and shape every aspect of life.
I was obsessed with learning about 9/11. I wanted to clip every article I read and I kept a journal for a couple of weeks, detailing President George W. Bush’s moves and decisions. I realize now that this was my way of dealing with a traumatic event, but also my first step into wanting to understand politics, while, at the same time, thinking it was a bunch of malarkey that I was happy not to have to deal with.
Now, in the last year of my twenties, living in New Hampshire, I feel a lot more educated and knowledgeable about politics than I did 17 years ago. The past few weeks have spawned conversations that have been difficult to have, but have been completely necessary, and have allowed me to see how much growth I’ve had and how much further I still have to go.
I was raised to have racial tendencies, to assume things about other people without knowing them, to pass judgment when unnecessary. I’ve worked hard to undo those habits, and I will continue to work at them and apologize when I’m wrong, and educate myself on what is moral and ethical and true and right.