Our bleeding hearts

[ 25 ] February 14, AD 2012 |

“Do you think they want to die? Tell me, do you think the people training the suicide bombers want to die? Do you? Do you think they want to die?”

The inquisitor exacerbated his vile prodding by point his finger a few inches from my face. Such are consequences.

Last week I travelled to the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for my job. I was charged with standing by our booth display, meeting and greeting as many people as possible, and passing out free swag.

It was invigorating to meet so many new people in four days, but exhausting to let my head back in the political banter realm I’ve been avoiding for more than a year.

Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Mitt Romney spoke at this 12,000+ attendee conference, spouting about conservative values and carefully reserving more folks for their niche of supporters through careful speechwriting. Many Catholic bloggers out here have thrown their support behind one candidate or another, as if voting for any of them would come without conscience reservations at the ballot box.

As seen at CPAC - seriously.

For this reason, and for a simple and juvenile refusal to accept that this is the best we can do, I have gone on a light political fast. However, “tabling” at this event, swarming with frustrated and energized conservatives, put a temporary end to my poli-diet. CPAC week was a steady build up of anxiety in reaction to the constant complaints about Obama, the loyalty to the firearm, and the debates between sticker-wielding supporters of Romney, Newt, and Santorum.

I found myself in the tough position of agreeing with many talking points being passed around, but strongly disagreeing with so many others. I’m Catholic, not R, D, or L.

All-in-all it started to wear on me. I longed for my Catholic blogosphere to teach me about daily struggles to live the Gospel. I wanted to buy a sandwich for a homeless person in the spirit of volunteerism, which I believe lives at the core of many in the conservative movement. I wanted balance.

Balance came on the fourth and final day of the conference in the form of a cranky older man with a loud opinion about the justice of war. This gentleman was making his way from booth to booth, ranting proudly about several conservative talking points that would earn a nod in agreement from most attendees.

However, he started go off about “these bleeding hearts who don’t believe those Muslim Jihadists deserve death.” With the momentum of a river, this man kept his rant alive with himself for a few more seconds as I looked down at my saints bracelet. I quickly decided this was a battle I would bite.

A play-by-play of our little encounter would bore you, but it touched on suicide bombers, the death penalty, “soulless people who deserve to die at American hands,” and my bleeding heart.

My bottom line was, “I don’t set my moral standard according to a murderer’s moral code. I don’t believe we should kill someone anymore than I believe he or she should commit murder.” This is where my bleeding heart label came.

The encounter shook me, both because it was my first “political” debate in quite a while, and because his hatred towards other saddened me. It was cold water in my face.

As the HHS mandate story develops, we can be oxymoronically grateful to President Obama and Secretary Sebelius for the wake up call. This CPAC man’s spiteful, unchallenged words spurred me to stand up for what I believe in, for the sake of my faith. It was probably the first disagreement he found the entire weekend.

Now the USCCB is telling the President and Secretary, “Okay, that’s a step over the line.” Let’s agree to join them in smaller, but equally necessary daily ways.

We live our faith, we don’t flip to it in an iconic verse in the Bible. Especially when it hurts. 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Elizabeth-Hillgrove-e1313149855558.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Elizabeth Hillgrove is a young cradle Catholic who grew up in a tight-knit, if not absurdly close family in the tiny Catholic world of Virginia. After a few divots and detours into apathy, embarrassment, and a vested political interest, Jesus Christ jump-started her faith life. Elizabeth has researched her way into a passion for bringing the simple, fulfilling Truth to youth and young adults, especially females. A recovering tomboy, Elizabeth will challenge you on the field, in the pool, on a trek up a mountain, or in the art studio. Game on. She is one of the three Bright Maidens and her website is Startling the Day.[/author_info] [/author]

Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Life, Religion

About the Author ()

Elizabeth Hillgrove is a young cradle Catholic who grew up in a tight-knit, if not absurdly close family in the tiny Catholic world of Virginia. After a few divots and detours into apathy, embarrassment, and a vested political interest, Jesus Christ jump-started her faith life. Elizabeth has researched her way into a passion for bringing the simple, fulfilling Truth to youth and young adults, especially females. A recovering tomboy, Elizabeth will challenge you on the field, in the pool, on a trek up a mountain, or in the art studio. Game on. She is one of the three Bright Maidens and her website is Startling the Day.
  • http://imperfectkate.wordpress.com Kate

    I couldn’t agree more! I, myself, am closer to the Democrat side – but this mandate only highlights what we already know: That Jesus wouldn’t have registered as any party (and certainly not either of the choices we have now) and that the Body of Christ is too big, and our Catholic Faith too beautifully intricate to be squeezed onto any political platform.

    Debates can be difficult, but they’re good – when we debate we are forced to confront the paradoxes in our faith, and as Death Cab for Cutie put it – ‘debate exposes doubt.’ Faith honestly tested can only grow stronger – and we can better appreciate the beauty of the paradoxes of our faith!

    Excellent piece, and excellent points!

  • http://universalcoolness.blogspot.com/ Rachael

    I recently got into a debate with someone who lies somewhere between an acquaintance and a friend. It started with he thinking that my protest of the HHS mandate was forcing my religion on others, and I tried to explain how being obedient to it was contradictory to our beliefs. After several and lengthy facebook messages of rhetoric, he came out of left field and accused me of not valuing human life and caring more about not providing contraception than I did about the innocents dying in the middle east (you know, because I pay taxes and that must mean my consent). It really shook me, because the emotionally charged rudeness was so uncharacteristic of him.

    My point: I know it stings and it is all kinds of unpleasant, but we must continue to not shy away from these encounters. Even if we do everything we can to acknowledge the person and be respectful, we shouldn’t expect the same treatment, even from people who are supposed to know us. Keep it up, Elizabeth!

  • http://johnbarrysblog.blogspot.com/ John

    Sadly the Democratic Party represents the culture of death. This once great party has disgraced itself. Secularists increasingly dominate it. The President is the most liberal pro-abortion president ever elected. Sure it is possible to find inconsistencies in the stances of Santorum, Gingrich and Romney and their supporters. It is pointless muddying the waters by pointing out inconsistencies in relation to the execution of terrorists whilst being pro-life in relation to abortion. It seems to be an effort to justify support for a pro-abortion Democrat candidate. It is a grave sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate. It is important to remember that a convicted terrorist will have been found guilty. The unborn child is innocent and if aborted has been executed. I am opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances on the basis that an innocent person might be found guilty. The unborn would be much safer under a President Gingrich, Santorum or Romney. So would unborn children overseas. This administration has pumped money into the promotion of abortion in Africa and elsewhere. When we meet Our Maker we will answer for this. We will answer for our sins of omission. It is time to end the abortion of 1.4 million innocents annually in the US. It is a grave sin to vote for Obama or any pro- abortion candidate of whatever political hue. It is time to end the abortion holocaust. It is time for many Catholics to drop the milk and water approach in relation to abortion. It is time to drop the red herrings, which muddy the waters. A vote for any pro- abortion candidate is a grave sin and cannot be justified.

  • Jamie Walker

    I appreciate the difficulties of trying to find any political home. Noteworthy are the 71% of democrats who think that Gitmo should remain open, and the many number of pro-abortion republicans.

  • Max

    You need to check out Ron Paul, doesn’t demagogue Muslims, no Gitmo baggage, no torture, and as an OBGYN who has delivered 4,000 babies, totally pro-life. Please consider purchasing his book “The Revolution”.

  • Sarah

    Thank you so much for sharing this story– while I’m sorry you were put in such a position, it is good to know there are other people who can’t find their place on the political spectrum. The hardest thing for me to deal with is being called a Republican (I am not) for being pro-life or being accused of being a liberal (I am not) when I talk about equal pay for women or the pitfalls of big business. And no use saying your a moderate, because that just seems to make all sides immediately and ferociously angry!

  • Ink and Quill

    Sarah,
    One of my friends calls herself an “extreme moderate”: as in, “I sit on that fence, and MAN, I am SITTING on that FENCE. Yeah. I SIT ON THAT FENCE. Intensely.”

    I think, after researching Catholic Social Teaching, magisterium-obedient Catholics could call themselves the same. It brings me back to that one GK Chesterton quote from Orthodoxy, about how the Church always walks the fine line between extremes.
    ~Ink

  • http://virtuouspla.net/ Anna Williams

    Thanks for this, Elizabeth! Having followed politics very closely for the last eight months (working in journalism), I share your deep reservations about both parties. Politics is just… inadequate.

  • http://adifferentperspective1.blogspot.com/ Jack Quirk

    Elizabeth, your refusal to accept that the current political landscape is the best we can do is hardly juvenile. On the contrary, it is a sign of thoughtfulness and a mature faith. It’s good to see from your article, and many of the responses, that there are those who take Catholic social teaching seriously, which is not characteristic of the loudest voices out there. Continue being strong.

  • http://themanwhowouldbeknight.com Ryan Kraeger

    Indeed. And are we loyal first to the Church or to the political party? Sometimes we just need to get our priorities straight. Debate often solves nothing, but sometimes it is necessary to say what is true, whether someone else listens or not.

    You did well.

  • D.A. Howard

    I call it the Compromising Political Action Conference. Tell me in what world Mitt Romney is a Conservative? Words speak louder than actions.

  • Blake Helgoth

    Thank you for this blog post. I find myself in much the same boat. I am a registered Republican only so that I can be involved in the primaries. Until about a year ago, I actually thought the Republicans were the pro-life party. But I ask, what significant thing have they actually accomplished on this front at the Nationla level? I now understand that the two party system is a ruse. They both feed at the trough of international coporations and banks, and have thus ceeded power to these organizations. This has been going on for quite some time, but has become very clear with the advent of the world wide economic crisis and the scandal of the bail out money. I realize now that there is no D, R or I. There is only the establishment that is ever seeking to expand their empire and those stand for the constitution and freedom from tyrany. The pro-life cause is part of all of this, but has mostly become a political football that is passed around in order to fool the masses. I for one, have been a fool for too long. I will no longer support the establishment with their greed, their endless wars, their hatred for life, their eugenic schemes and their ever expanding empire. I will not be a tool. I too find myself without no political home. The land we sojourn in has become a strange land indeed!

  • Will

    “Deserves death?” said Gandalf. “Aye, and many die that deserve life. Can you bring them back again?”

  • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

    Elizabeth, thanks for standing with the Church. I recently started my own blog, ohnimus.wordpress.com, precisely so that I could provide another voice other than the politics-as-usual tribal mantras. Its tough when we’re Catholics first and Americans second – that’s something partisan America just can’t seem to understand. The Catholic church is in no way moderate; virtually everyone outside looking in considers us extreme: either we’re accused of being bleeding heart social justice liberals or we’re Bible-thumping misogynist conservatives. We don’t fit on the political spectrum, but you know what? I think that’s great. The Republicans and the Democrats can have their politics; give me the sacraments instead any day.

  • Sean O

    Blake H

    To your post. Amen. The Catholic mission is NOT reflected in either party. Full Stop.

    To think otherwise is a delusion, to be played as the fool.

  • Scott

    Elizabeth, I think that the best comparison in the Bible are the Sadducees (Democrats) and Pharisees (Republicans). I don’t know who the Libertarians, Zealots maybe? Anyhow, While these two religious parties were in direct opposition, they both hated Christ because he criticized them. The funny thing is that while the Pharisees are more often addressed by name and condemned a lot, they are the only group to which Christ also gave some praise and some of his followers were counted among the Pharisees. My point is that though the Republicans have many, many problems, their problems are not nearly as bad as the Democrats.
    So until the choice is no longer a

  • Scott

    Elizabeth, I think that the best comparison in the Bible are the Sadducees (Democrats) and Pharisees (Republicans). I don’t know who the Libertarians, Zealots maybe? Anyhow, While these two religious parties were in direct opposition, they both hated Christ because he criticized them. The funny thing is that while the Pharisees are more often addressed by name and condemned a lot, they are the only group to which Christ also gave some praise and some of his followers were counted among the Pharisees. My point is that though the Republicans have many, many problems, their problems are not nearly as bad as the Democrats.
    So until the choice is no longer between two evils, I’ll be forced to choose the lesser.

  • Jasper

    This is trash.

  • http://www.almostnotcatholic.com/ Brent Stubbs

    “Until about a year ago, I actually thought the Republicans were the pro-life party. But I ask, what significant thing have they actually accomplished on this front at the Nationla level?”

    Go here to read about what Bush did during his presidency.

    I think Obama has fooled us into thinking that the presidency is for the wielding of despotic power. A Republican could not simply “undo” abortion if he or she wanted. We would have to do that. See also here. Ctrl + F, search “abortion”

  • Ryan

    So incarcerating Jihadists, providing them with three hots and a cot, and giving them Korans so they can pray to their weird moon-god is the same thing as killing babies. Got it.

  • RLM

    Thanks, Ryan, for saying exactly what was on my mind. I’m sorry, but I used to be proud to be a bleeding heart liberal. For goodness sake, I was raised to be a good little liberal by my then-feminist mother, I spent my adolescence in Canada, and got my degrees from an Ivy League school! However, now I see how wrong left-liberalism is. Republicans may not be perfect, but please do not put them in the same boat as Democrats. The right simply does not have the same totalitarian impulse as the left in this country. To ignore this fact is naive. I actually came to this blog from Marc Shea’s blog, but I think he was wrong to recommend that his readers check this blog out. I don’t think I’ll be coming back.

  • http://www.elizabethhillgrove.com Elizabeth Hillgrove

    @Ryan – When did I equate incarcerating Jihadists with killing babies?
    @RLM – When did I put Republicans in the same boat as Democrats? They’re in different boats, but neither are coming to shore.

  • http://adifferentperspective1.blogspot.com/ Jack Quirk

    What’s needed is a Catholic voting bloc that will vote for politicians that will vote for those politicians who support the entirety of Catholic social teaching, and not vote for those who do not, even if that entails voting for nobody. There are a lot of Catholics in the U.S., and, if enough people joined, politicians would be interested in making us happy.

  • richard

    Yes. We live our Faith on a daily basis.

  • Bill

    I know of hundreds of pro-life republicans and 2 or 3 pro life democrats. I vote for pro life politicians only. Rick Santorum appears to be Catholic first, republican second.