Our bleeding hearts
“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?”
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.
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.