Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thank you. I shall take no tea.

Mothers of young daughters (or those who were once young) may recognize this as the manner in which Miss Manderly teaches Felicity, Elizabeth, and Annabelle to refuse the service of tea during their gentlewoman lessons in the American Girl saga Felicity Learns a Lesson. Or, you could think of it as my answer to the recent call for “Tea Party” protests.

It should be obvious that I support, applaud, and encourage the principled speeches given by individuals regarding individual rights and the proper role of government. (Here is where I refer you to the awesome, calm, clear, and concise presentation given by another Mother Objectivist Blogger, Rational Jenn, at the Atlanta Tea Party.) And, that I am encouraged by the very thought that any legislator might stand up and take notice of this grassroots display of displeasure about the unchecked growth of government. But, sadly, I am not yet ready to throw my body into the mix.

Perhaps the mere fact of being from Massachusetts has sucked the oxygen away from my fire, or caused me to dig further into my quieter attempts to make inroads into changing the culture. Whatever the case, over the past five years my husband and I have made several whole-hearted attempts at bringing the ideas of Objectivism into the local schools and into the public library and we have been rebuffed at every turn.

Our offer to donate local prize money for entrants in the essay contests for The Fountainhead and Anthem were met with no interest from either school system we approached despite the guaranteed $300 prize for first place (while my daughter’s entire school was recently regaled with a movie about the atrocities in Darfur through a local grant). The two attempts to donate a subscription to The Objective Standard to the local library was first met with no response, and second, with a requested written response (which included a SASE) that there was “no interest” in the periodical when they placed it on the shelf. [We never saw it on the shelf and periodicals are not to be taken out – so how, exactly, did they know that there was no interest in a two week time period?] I just don’t want to fight with these local administrators.

I have had success with giving away five copies of Atlas Shrugged within the last year: three to people who expressed an interest in reading the book, one in a rental bedside table near the Bible, and one other unrequested copy went to my brother, the big ‘c’ Conservative, for Christmas. I’m guessing that the vast difference between listening to talk radio and having to read and digest a 1000 page novel is the reason he hasn’t mentioned it to me yet.

Other than these quiet, mostly unsuccessful behind the scenes efforts, being truthful when asked about my opinion, and writing on this blog for anyone who chooses to read it, I’d rather give money to ARI to support its efforts while I learn how to be a become a better advocate for Objectivism. Falling in league with the disgruntled, dissatisfied, and worst of all, unprincipled masses, even temporarily, is a very uncomfortable position for me to put myself in at this point in my life.

I suspect that my need to speak out on a larger scale will soon coincide with my need to be comfortable – but beyond this blog, and when asked in person, I just haven’t reached that point of preparation yet.

I am thankful to those of you who have.


Rational Jenn said...

Thanks, LB! :o)

LB said...

Oh, no, no, no. Thank you.
(Couldn't find the right Chip 'n' Dale clip.)

Beth said...

I remember that story of Felicity well. What a great way to stick up for your beliefs, and remain socially gracious. That is not something I have found very easy to do.
Several years ago, I took a long vacation from speaking out--even from paying much attention--focusing instead on the more immediate needs of my family. My pendulum on this may have swung too much the other way and is probably in need of readjustment.
We each must find our own way.
It is, after all, all about our own individual lives!

LB said...

It is about our individual lives and that is precisely why I feel compelled to do more. I just don't know what, exactly.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Shez said...

I found this post exceedingly interested as my husband and I had a discussion this week about the Tea Parties. I had fully intended attending ours but the chatter on the Meet Up list had me feeling very disturbed.

Once in a while I listen to Talk Radio and I end up having to switch it off because of the rote terms I hear from the callers and the hosts.

I saw this same, mindless, rhetoric on the Meet Up list, and while I support the objectives of the Tea Parties, I just couldn't bring myself to associate with the mindless masses in VA Beach that were partying.

LB said...

It's definitely an interesting position to be in: supporting the overall sentiment of the rally, but being at sometimes tremendous odds with other parts. Not to mention the actual protesting part which I have mixed feelings about as a vehicle for reform anyway.