#34 In Roads-Lee

Friends are gathered around a picnic table catching up with each other’s lives when the subject turns to politics. Mostly there are head nods as convictions and opinions are boisterously expressed by the more passionate among us. I’m a Texas gal who was raised with the warning to avoid religion and politics as a topic for polite public debate. The huge family brawls that broke out when that rule was ignored are permanently etched in my memory, so I opt out of such discussions. I assume the gentleman in the chair next to me shares my perspective since he is also seated beyond the crowd, so I introduce myself.

Lee is a soft-spoken, married 59-year old who is retired from the local gas company. He rides his bike to places like Sturgis as well as smaller runs closer to his Santa Rosa, California home. He smiles easily as we chat about being on the road before we arrive at our own political conversation.

“You know, the older I get the more involved I get in politics,” he tells me. “I never used to be at all but now days I do tend to enjoy these exchanges, even if I don’t participate. I’ve discovered I tend to learn a lot from others during these types of get-togethers. Even if I don’t agree with them all, I at least walk away with a different perspective than my own.” I agree and tell him I think it’s the natural way, to become more socially conscious as we age. The righteous indignation of the youth that feels they are owed civil liberties phases into the socially conscious elder who comes to believe they have earned their freedoms and deserve to have their rights respected. I’d like to think, however, that those of us with the quiet voices are no less opinioned or passionate about our rights, and equally willing to defend them. We each fall silent and return to listening. And nodding.


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