Dearest Rachel –
You know that I try to avoid politics in these letters if I can; we always understood each other and our political positions (although I couldn’t help but be amused as you and Daniel changed position around me during that last year and a half, taking me from being the most conservative to the most liberal in the family, without ever really changing my own stance), and let it go at that. However, it’s hard to avoid these days, as virtually every choice one makes informs of one’s political position. It’s like what professor Henry Higgins once said about the English way of speaking, but paraphrased to reflect our choices in America: “the moment [you] talk, [you] make some other [American] despise [you].”
To their credit, the pastoral staff at our church bends over backwards to try to avoid making any political statements, or at least favoring one position over another. After all, it doesn’t matter in the end what candidate you support or (in most cases) the political position you take – everyone needs Jesus regardless of these stances, and they want to make that clear. There are a few bright lines, but for the most part, there are very few hills on the political landscape worth dying on, from a doctrinal perspective.
That being said, there are people who seem to be unable to help themselves. They are political animals, and that is what their lives center around. They have their causes, and woe be unto you should you not support them.
My immediate reaction to these kind of people is either to avoid them completely – which would undoubtedly be safer – or to take up a contrary position, even if I were to otherwise agree with them philosophically, as a general rule. There’s something about a certain level of stridency that just raises my hackles.
And so it was this morning, when the dating app showed a little red dot, indicating a new message or a new set of matches, that I had to take a look. You probably remember that I don’t like it when any of my apps have that little red dot, indicating there’s something I need to take care of with them – which serves me well with regard to keeping up with my mail, for instance. So I went in to the app, and paged through a handful of potential matches, and came across this profile picture:
Now I’ll give her credit for the cleverly assembled effigy. It was barely two years ago that we found ourselves amused as we wandered the shops of San Antonio’s Riverwalk, and discovered a toilet brush made up of The Donald’s hair. We’d always assumed the Texas was a deep red state. Of course, we learned that cities are cities, no matter where you go in this country. So, nicely done with the image, ma’am.
Beyond that, however, I find myself utterly amazed. You’re really going with that as your profile picture? This is your best look? Seriously?
Let me start off with the non-political issues I have with this photo. Sure, it doesn’t have the problem that a surprising number of selfies seem to have, where the bottom half of the face is cut off, making the girl look like a long-haired version of the meme-before-meme-were-a-thing Kilroy of WWII fame. It never ceases to amaze me how many of the portraits are cut off at the nose; while they aren’t in the majority by any stretch, they shouldn’t happen at all, since you’re given the choice to decide whether to upload or keep a picture. Surely, one sure know better than to upload a picture so unflattering – of one’s skills as a photographer, if nothing else.
This particular photo doesn’t have that problem, though. And, credit where it’s due, it’s more of a full-body photo, which offers certain information on her appearance that a mere headshot would lack. However, as far as the face is concerned, there’s not that much of it. Since it’s outdoors and in the winter (or thereabouts), she’s bundled up, and one can’t see anything more than the eye, nose and mouth; no ears or hair. You’re not getting the full picture, any more than a shot that cuts off at the bottom of the nose will let you see.
So there’s that. On to the heart of the matter – and more to the point, where hers is.
You’d probably heard me tell this story in the past, but there aren’t that many fond memories any of us have of class assignments, so this one sticks out. It’s particularly memorable to me because I used techniques I had just picked up from another class (statistics) in order to analyze results gathered for this class (political science); it’s nice when what you learn actually turns out to be useful outside that particular classroom. It also sticks out that the ultimate results turned out to be quite surprising, at least to me (I’ve since told the story to the girls, and Ellen came up with a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why my findings would be as they were. Still, at the time, I was shocked, and such an explanation never crossed my mind at the time. It didn’t need to, either – I got an ‘A’ for the assignment as I had put it together, without going into the ‘why’ of the matter). Basically, it was a group project, requiring us to poll individuals on campus about certain political points of view. We touched on the hot button issues of the day, as well as certain demographic information, including not so much party affiliation (we were dealing with fellow college students, after all), as to whether they identified as conservative or liberal. But given all the various hot button topics, the one thing that was the surest guarantee of which side the political fence they would fall… was whether they were male or female.
Ellen’s hypothesis, that men benefit from the status quo, and therefore would tend conservative (and vice versa for females) is certainly a fair assessment. It might beg the question about other polarizing demographics, however. But that’s beside the point in these current circumstances.
My point here is that this lady is apparently trying to appeal to guys – who, as I’ve just established, tend to be more conservative than her – by showing off her liberal bona fides. Moreover, she’s doing this on a Christian dating site, which would also tend to contain more conservative individuals, so the deck is multiply stacked against her. The lack of self-awareness, while not yet staggering, would at least cause one to trip.
Understand, she’s not the first such individual I’ve seen on this site proclaiming her liberal biases, by the way; several other profile pics have featured marchers in one or another BLM or George Floyd protest. Again, I understand the desire to find someone who shares your political beliefs, especially if they’re that important to you. I’m just not sure whether this particular app is a place you’re likely to find someone like that – especially not to the extent of going out and marching in protest for such stuff. It may be just me, but that strikes me as a young person’s game. The rest of us are too busy making our way through our own lives to concern ourselves so much with politics.
But the thing that gets me is how out of date this picture is now. Bear in mind, this profile was just brought to my attention this morning, so I’ll wager it’s a fairly recent addition. The dude she’s protesting about has been out of power for more than a year now: which suggests that this photo is out of date as well – yet another red flag. But the real kicker, to me, is the fact that there are currently over 130,000 Russians on the border of Ukraine, poised, supposedly, to invade any moment now. To quote George Lazenby:
And do you want me asking under who’s watch the Crimea was annexed? Yeah, that didn’t happen under ‘the other fellow,’ either. That was the current guy’s old boss.
So… who, exactly, is Putin’s puppet, again?
Aside from the fact that this is woefully bad timing to put up a picture like this, I’ve already mentioned my contrarian instincts; I’m actually half tempted to strike up a conversation with her, simply in order to channel my inner Petruchio, and ask her what she was thinking. But I probably wouldn’t get any answers, and it would just start up a fight.
At the end of the day, it’s probably just as well to let sleeping dogs lie, as the saying goes – take it however you will. Still, now you can see what I’m up against – both those I come across, and my own reaction to them.
So keep your eye on me, honey, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it, as always.