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Differences of Opinion

Same Difference
All the people in the world have a common ancestor, an African woman now known as the Mitochondrial Eve. She lived about 140 thousand years ago.

We are, as a species, more the same than we used to believe.

All the blue-eyed people in the world have a common ancestor because, 6 to 10 thousand years ago, somebody's mutated gene produced the first blue-eyed human in a brown-eyed world — a freak. Yet that person survived to have children.

Irreconcilable Differences
Research is piling up ways that homosexual people are physiologically different from heterosexual people. Or not. There's fierce disagreement about how many homosexuals there are. How many Wiccans. How many war veterans sleeping under bridges. How many American / Iraqi / Tutsi / Hutu / Shi'ite / Sunni / Armenian / Ottoman / Christian / Jew / Hindu / Muslim / Black / White / Male / Female outrages have been committed. You name it, someone will try to count it. I'm not sure why.

We are, as a species, more different from one another than we're comfortable with. We cling to those differences; they define us.

Making a Difference
At least the differences between candidates make a vote easier (though finding those differences may not be easy). Counting delegates and votes is necessary in an election (though suspect, in these electronic times).

It's so easy to be cynical about the process, as it tests the candidates' resilience under long hours, bad food, personal hazing, constant travel, frustration and exhaustion in which so little meaning can be conveyed. At the same time, the voters contend with boredom, confusion, hope, and disgust.

But I still vote. I still want to "make a difference." I still believe that there are better and worse outcomes of elections. I've voted for a few people whose work since then I respect. And certainly I've voted against some who seemed truly crazy.

We Have our Differences
I grew up in a border town — not today's contested border, but that of the Civil War. The state line is a street that runs through Kansas City, and in the Civil War era, the Kansas side was a free state, and the Missouri side was a slave state. Abolitionists hid slaves and slavers demanded their return. Families broke in two, as their sons died fighting on opposite sides.

By the time I was growing up, the state line divided a Republican Kansas from a Democratic Missouri, and other than the political parties and sports teams, the biggest contrast was that booze was a lot cheaper in "wet" Missouri than in "dry" Kansas. There were plaques and the odd cannon in the city's parks. As a Kansas City girl I once wrote, "This is the way the world heals / picnicking on battlefields."

Where I work, we deal with this covering-over of conflict all the time. Whether the contest is about projects, football teams, or elections, we have to "cultivate nonattachment." We have to put up with the fact that we disagree fundamentally, maybe even desperately when it comes to politics or religion or promotion, and yet once the crisis is past, we all still have to work together. We change spouses, houses, churches, friends, parties, just about anything, because of irreconcilable differences, but we generally make ourselves get along at work.

In a couple of weeks, I'll get up at the crack of dawn to vote in the primary, and even so, I'll get to work a little late. I'll swap stories about the wait with the woman in the next cubicle, whose vote always cancels mine out, who always votes the way her husband tells her to, because he listens to the radio more than she does. And if my back hurts from standing so long in line, she'll bring me coffee when she goes to get her own.

Graphics Credits

  • Holding Hands Across the World, courtesy of Julia Freeman-Woolpert.
  • barb wire silhouette, courtesy of Leo Valen.

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MatriFocus Cross-Quarterly
is a seasonal web journal (zine) for Goddess Women and others interested in Goddess Lore and Scholarship, Goddess Religion (ancient and contemporary), Feminist Spirituality, Women's Mysteries, Paganism and Neopaganism, Earth-based Religions, Witchcraft, Dianic Wicca and other Wiccan Traditions, the Priestess Path, Goddess Art, Women's Culture, Women's Health, Natural Healing, Mythology, Female Shamanism, Consciousness, Community, Cosmology, and Women's Creativity.

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