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As I age, some things get grayer and less-defined.

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WritersBlock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 06:23 AM
Original message
As I age, some things get grayer and less-defined.

And no, not just the far-too-obvious physical things, although there are plenty of those, too.

I'm talking about my reactions to, and opinions of, things going on in the world. I used to have very comfortable, well-defined black & white views of what was "right" about a situation, and what was "wrong" about it. But things aren't always so simple anymore.

Maybe I'm just getting old and hard of thinking, but there are things I just can't make up my mind about anymore. I find it hard to draw the line and stand firmly on one side or the other.

Not about everything, mind you. There are things I can state with no hesitation. BushCo's war is an illegal war of aggression based on lies. I demand that my country shall not torture or "disappear" prisoners. I am adamantly against the erosion of our civil rights. I dearly want Cheney & Bush impeached for their crimes against this nation, then brought before the World Court to answer for their war crimes, along with Wolfowitz, Rice, and the rest of the cabal who lied us into attacking a country that posed no threat to us or anybody else. (Yeah, I know we don't recognize it; I can still want it.) I am furious about many things -- the appalling Katrina response; the depletion of our treasury for the benefit of war profiteers. The deaths of over 3000 soldiers (let's not forget Britain and the rest of the "Coalition") and uncounted thousands of Iraqi citizens.

Yes, I am firmly convinced of many things. But there are other things that aren't quite so cut & dried for me. For example, the death of Gerald Ford. I don't know how I feel about him. I may never decide. I remember feeling betrayed when he pardoned Nixon. Then I remember the bumbling, clumsy, affable man who made great fodder for Chevy Chase. Now I learn about him and Kissinger and East Timor; I didn't know about that before - yeah, I was horribly uninformed for many years - and it's hard to get my head around it. Then I look at the picture of Clinton & Ford, and see the expression on that old man's face and ask myself, "How do I consolidate that image with the man who pardoned Nixon and tacitly approved an invasion?" And I have no answer. I simply don't know how I feel about Gerald Ford. I have sympathy for his family, and I must have liked him a little bit, or at least tolerated him, because I didn't have the feeling of "good riddance" that I had when Reagan died. But I am unable to feel strongly about him either way.

And then there's Saddam Hussein. Butcher, dictator, murderer. Yes. All of that, and more. But who created him? Who's the Frankenstein to this monster? We are. I feel the man should have answered for his crimes, but I also feel that he was aided and abetted, then made a scapegoat by his political creators. And now he will become a martyr, because of the way he died - having been held in a US prison, tried in a US-sponsored kangaroo court, and executed following a warrant signed by a US-installed puppet. And quite frankly, I thought he displayed a dignity in his final moments that I certainly could not have displayed in similar circumstances. That's enough to make a martyr-in-waiting right there. And all of this has now been seen across the world, and the perception is the reality. I fear that all of this will only put our troops more firmly in harm's way, and will only strengthen hatred against America. So what has this execution accomplished? I keep thinking about the statement made by an Aljazeera reporter yesterday, after the videos of the heckling were released: "Now they see a Sunni president executed by a Shia government." How many more will die because of this - more troops; more civilians? Am I glad he's dead? Was it worth it? How do I answer those questions?

(And no, I'm not comparing Ford to Hussein. I am merely speaking of my reaction to two very publicized deaths that happened within days of each other.)

I know that I'm taking a real risk of being flamed by posting this, given that so many lately have posted about the way they feel on various subjects, only to be jumped on, denounced, and ridiculed by those who disagree. I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes there is more than one way to feel about something. Not always, but sometimes. And being a member of this online community doesn't necessarily mean that we all have to feel the same way about all the same things. Do I oppose the death penalty? Yes. Do I oppose abortion? Well, I couldn't bring myself to have one, but due to circumstances I've experienced, I can see why some women might choose to do so.

But I couldn't do it personally; I just couldn't. So does that, along with my ambivalence toward the death of Gerald Ford and the execution of Saddam Hussein, exile me completely from the progressive community?

I don't think so, or at least I hope not. The message board rules say that "Members are expected to be generally supportive of progressive ideals, and to support Democratic candidates for political office." Okay, check, got that; says "generally," so I'm pretty sure I qualify. And it doesn't say which Democratic candidates I should support, so I'm okay there, too, I think.

And the rules also say, "Do not post messages that are inflammatory, extreme, divisive, incoherent, or otherwise inappropriate." (Oh dear; I think I may have dropped the ball on the incoherent bit here.) .... "Do not engage in anti-social, disruptive, or trolling behavior." I am not writing this post with that intention; I hope it's not construed as such.

And finally, this one - "Do not post broad-brush, bigoted statements. The moderators and administrators work very hard to enforce some minimal standards regarding what content is appropriate. But please remember that this is a large and diverse community that includes a broad range of opinion."

I think that's rather the point I'm trying to make with this post. There is a broad range of opinion on this board. We are a diverse community. But judging by the responses made to some posts lately, I'm beginning to wonder exactly where the definition of "progressive" is defined, and just what stone it's chiseled into. It seems as if a few people demand that we all think in lock-step with one another on every single thing, and woe unto those who dare display differing opinions on some issues.

And all I'm trying to say is that sometimes the line might be a little fuzzy.

Thanks for reading. I'll go don that asbestos suit now.





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magellan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 06:46 AM
Response to Original message
1. Acknowledging the fuzzy line is part of maturity
And I think it's what makes the best progressives. It doesn't mean dithering or being weak on an issue. It's simply recognizing that what might be black and white for you isn't for others, and vice versa, and making room for both where appropriate.

Know your mind, but be open to change. That's where the fuzzy line meets the path to peace.
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ashling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 06:52 AM
Response to Original message
2. No writer's block there - LOL
Edited on Mon Jan-01-07 06:53 AM by ashling
and I'm thanful for it ... for your post, that is. Very well put, ideed.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:02 AM
Response to Original message
3. Things aren't as clear cut as you age,
Your increased wisdom, aided by increased perspective, insures that this generally happens. I'm at that stage myself. However I still can't bring myself to forgive Ford for his acts of justice subversion, both on the Warren Commission and the Nixon pardon. Yes, he was our lovable everyman of a President, falling down stairs and buttering his English muffins. Yet and still, his very actions confirmed the cynics view that certain people with enough power, enough money are above the law in the US. I find that sort of reasoning repugnant, and for that reason, I can never forgive Ford. Is he better than Reagan, Bush I or II, and Nixon? Sure, but in the end is that really saying all that much? No. Ford will forever have a legacy tainted by his subversion of justice, no matter how much the RW in this country try to paint it as "healing the country"

As for as Hussein goes, I find the effort to take him down to be despicable. In our effort to bring the man to "justice" we have destroyed more of Iraq, killed more Iraqis, and wasted more money than Hussein ever had. All for two things, to get at Iraqi oil, and to payback Hussein for the snubs he inflicted on Bushboy and his family. Yes, Hussein was an evil, sick brutal man. But sadly it seems as though we have become that which we were going after, evil, sick and brutal. All to get this man and inflict "justice" upon him.

Yes, somethings become greyer, but others come much more into focus. The benefits of age and wisdom.
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Skidmore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:24 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. And sometimes, it may be that as you age, you have less patience
with the BS. I know I do. I just want to cut to the chase and, as a result, I have lost a great deal of tolerance for the political dance we all do. If there is a wrong, right it. If there is injustice, correct it. If there is suffering, do something about it. Get out of the boardrooms, conference rooms, socials, tea parties, bridge clubs, shishypoopoo parties, and start acting with clarity. That is where I am in life now. You are only given so much time to do well by your fellow man, and Americans squander so much of it on foolishness.
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WritersBlock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #5
14. Good point.

And as I said, I'm fairly outspoken about many things. I have no problem with picking up the phone & calling my Congressman and Senators, demanding the impeachment of this so-called pResident (even though two of them are declared Republicans and the other should put "R-Lite" after her name rather than a "D.") Or writing letters to the editor, or making phone calls to total strangers in support of candidates I believe in. And I feel as if there is so much more I should be doing, too.

But I find lately that on some issues, I wouldn't know what to say or write, because I can't even formulate in my own mind how I feel about them. And I didn't used to be that way.



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zanne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:16 AM
Response to Original message
4. A fine post.
Thank you for that. I recognize what you are saying. My goal is to grow up and think the way you do.
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OffWithTheirHeads Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:26 AM
Response to Original message
6. eloquently stated!
Unfortunately, the mods here believe in serious censorship if you do not follow the "party line". As such, my opinion is irrelevant.
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MonkeyFunk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:30 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. No
they don't.

I haven't seen any "party line" here whatsoever. Every faction is equally hated.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:28 AM
Response to Original message
7. Great post!
Borrowed Time
John Lennon


When I was younger
Living confusion and deep dispair
When I was younger ah hah
Living illusion of freedom and power

When I was younger
Full of ideas and broken dreams (my friend)
When I was younger ah hah
Everything simple but not so clear

Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow
Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow

Now I am older
The more that I see the less that I know for sure
Now I am older ah hah
The future is brighter and now is the hour

Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow
Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow

Good to be older
Would not exchange a single day or a year
Good to be older ah hah
Less complications everything clear

Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow
Living on borrowed time
Without a thought for tomorrow

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izzie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:43 AM
Response to Original message
9. I guess it has always been as you say.
I have been into the time of the world war and their is a time to cause a pain in the heart. Even reading about how the last Czar and how he and his family were put to death but one has to fit it in with Lenin's brother being put to death by the Czar and about 20 million others dying because of what this nice family man did. It gives one pause belief me. It is hard to put it all in place and ever get a firm footing on it. I am sure bring peace and one man one vote seems good to Bush but at what cost? That is the problem. At what cost? I my self can not get it all into my mind that any of this killing is good yet my own family fought in our revolution, Civil war and I do like the result for my self on both.
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poiuytsister Donating Member (591 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 08:11 AM
Response to Original message
10. This concept is known as wisdom and maturity
Traits Bush obviously does not possess.
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sarge43 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 08:32 AM
Response to Original message
11. Who said
"the beginning of wisdom are the words 'I don't know'"?
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fasttense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 09:31 AM
Response to Original message
12. I must give a contrary view
It is just my nature.

I have never seen black and white issues. There has always been a vast gray area where most opinions collide. I have been like this since I've been a child (my parents and teachers found this very irritating). It just gets worse as I get older. I have always thought of this as a flaw.

Now you say it is a sign of maturity? I'm not so sure.

But there are two things I have learned from life that are true and constant.

They are:

Everything changes
Anything taken to extreme is destructive

So, perhaps there are some black and white issues but I'm sure that will change.
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WritersBlock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 11:16 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Maturity? Hmmm....
Edited on Mon Jan-01-07 11:17 AM by WritersBlock

I dunno about it being a sign of maturity, especially in my case. I'm squinting at 50 not that far down the road, and still wondering when I'm supposed to start feeling like a grownup.

It's just that my outlook's changed as I got older. In a way, I suppose maybe that's the same thing. Maybe it is maturity finally setting in for me, and maybe I just had a few extra things to learn when I started out in life - and still do. Who's to know?

Either way, your words are wise - everything changes, and anything taken to extreme is destructive.

Here's hoping you never lose that "flaw" of yours :toast:




edit for clarity
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #12
17. I think I have spent most of my life in your camp. It is difficult to mostly see
the shades of grey while those around you are so attuned to the black and white of things.
Lately, of course, there are more things that seem to appear black and white, thanks to so many things being take to the extreme.

All in all, your two basic tenets are true:

Everything changes
Anything taken to extreme is destructive.


We should always keep our minds open so as to let in new ideas.


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smirkymonkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 06:38 PM
Response to Original message
15. I've notice the same thing - I think it's a sign of maturity.
Something we could use in our next president.

You put it very well - thank you! It would be interesting to see the ages of posters next to every post, it might give some perspective.

K&R!
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 06:41 PM
Response to Original message
16. Relax, pal. .
No flames for you. You sound like a regular sort.
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Morgana LaFey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:31 PM
Response to Original message
18. I have only one comment
Edited on Mon Jan-01-07 07:32 PM by Morgana LaFey
and it's about how deeply offended *I* am by this:

Do I oppose abortion? Well, I couldn't bring myself to have one, but due to circumstances I've experienced, I can see why some women might choose to do so.

But I couldn't do it personally; I just couldn't. So does that, along with my ambivalence toward the death of Gerald Ford and the execution of Saddam Hussein, exile me completely from the progressive community?


So in your mind "progressive on abortion" means having no feeligs about it? You buy into some Rush Limbaughesque idea of who the pro-Choice people are? In your mind we are all running out, eager to find an opportunity to abort some untold number of fetuses??? Or something. What a grotesque caricature.

And pardon me if, under the circumstances, I feel a little patronized here:

I can see why some women might choose to do so.

Might choose? As in have a whim one sunny day? Wake up one fine morning and say, "Oh, I'm in the mood to see an abortionist today"?

For MOST women, it's spelled D-E-S-P-E-R-A-T-I-O-N. In the bad old days (pre Roe v. Wade), many women were desperate enough to literally risk their lives in an illegal procedure under the most adverse medical conditions. Women didn't do that on a whim, or casually back then. Nor do they now, either.

And EVEN IF none of this is what you meant, I challenge you as a writer to be a LOT more careful with your writing and your choice of words. You above all other people know the importance of choosing your words carefully, and nuances in meaning. If you don't INTEND sexist framing for your comment, then don't choose words that set that up.

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MichiganVote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 08:02 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. I don't get it. When I read the post it seemed to me the poster
was merely referring to the choices women make. I didn't read condescension or "whim" in the statement.
Nor did I read anything sexist in the comment or otherwise feel patronized.

"I can see why some women might choose to do so."

Like I said, I read this over a few times and still can't take in your point of view.
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WritersBlock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-02-07 01:16 AM
Response to Reply #18
23. I'm sorry you were offended by my choice of words.
Edited on Tue Jan-02-07 01:34 AM by WritersBlock

I asked the question about being "exiled" because I've seen so many posts where someone states an opinion about abortion and is immediately cut down for it.

And no, "progressive on abortion" does not, to me, mean to have no opinion on it or to parrot any right-wing talkshow nonsense. Quite the contrary, actually.

It means that I can understand why some women would choose to have an abortion. That's all it means. No hidden meanings, no condescension intended.

Because I know a little about some of that desperation.

It comes from having watched a baby die of a genetic disease. My baby. From a disease passed along through my genes.

It comes from wondering if, had I known about it during the pregnancy, I would have been able to make the decision to have an abortion. And the answer to that, for me, was no. But I could understand why another woman might make a different choice.

I really hadn't wanted to go into details, which was why I tried to be careful with my writing and choice of words, even though I'm not, despite the username, a writer.



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SmokingJacket Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:39 PM
Response to Original message
19. It IS all fuzzy.
I think that's what being a liberal means. It means remembering that even a president is a flawed human being (some more flawed than others ;) ), and that even a convenience store-robbing thug might care about his children.

The fact that it's all fuzzy just means you have to think about it all, a lot, and read, and stay informed. And be ready to change your mind if you had it wrong --
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MichiganVote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 07:49 PM
Response to Original message
20. To me, the execution of SH, as viewed, plainly exposed
the degree of divisiveness, hostility, hatred, and bitterness that GWB has walked our country right into in Iraq. A veritable hornet's nest in the Middle East that the neocon's were certain, beyond the reasonable doubts we all had, to conquer. To say that the execution was a sordid affair is an understatement. However, on this planet there are those who would settle for nothing less than no death for SH and those who could not be content without more death. Saddam's life was ugly, so was his death. All that can be learned from that is that when you play with the big boys......

The problem that I see in the juxtoposition of feelings or perceptions about Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein is that people appear to expect closure on events in the past that will simply have to run their course. The death of either of these men will not end political strife regardless of how anyone feels about them and their actions here on earth. Some differences are obvious; whereas the death of SH will clearly cause unrest and increased violence in some areas, the death of Gerald Ford is not shown to do so. Nor may I add, did the actions of Gerald Ford in his lifetime cause Americans to resort to violence or continue the unrest that had already beset our country. Sure people were unhappy, but they were not violently involved in the insurrection of our nation or in a civil war that kills scores of citizens in more than one country.

I believe it is unreasonable to denote Saddam Hussein as a martyr but that will not stop other's from viewing him as such. I believe he was a bad man who made bad decisions with or without the support of other bad men in our culture. Saddam Hussein risked much, took much, and lost much. Yet, he made a clear choice to live his life as he did. If not him, another would have stood in his place and likely done the same thing.

Gerald Ford also risked much, in the mind's of many he took much, and he lost much. Power does that. It enforces its rules indiscriminately. Gerald Ford could have shirked the vice-presidency, thrown off the pardon for Nixon, released our government from its actions in East Timor or changed his mind in regard to the Warren Commission. But he didn't. And even if he had done one or another of these things, someone else would have stood in his place.

So, it comes down to intent and intent is always a gray area. Did SH intend to kill the people he killed to become a horrific dictator later to be killed himself? Did Gerald Ford pardon Nixon hoping to be pardoned himself?

Who among us cannot pardon another, arrest injustice, provide mercy, or even manipulate other's to take risks to benefit our own life experience?

It seems we all can.

Whatever can be said about either of these men, their time on earth is over. All the speeches denouncing their imperialism, real or imagined, cannot change the fact that caught in the crossfires of Hell exist our armed forces and an entire civilian population in Iraq.

Washington and our corporations have been pushing us further and further into a global market. Fine. What we need to realize is the tremendous power that gives us. What we need to see is that so long as we are piddling around with the details of this death or that death, we ignore the opportunity we have to affect the global politics of this world. We, an entire and powerful American population, changed the outcome of the last US election. We're entitled to do so much more than we have done.

Why shouldn't we consider ourselves full partners with the US government and our corporations in regard to global relations and expect and demand proper respect? If this were a business model, we would talk about expanding our market share.

What if our "market share" consisted of human rights for all?
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GeorgeGist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-01-07 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
22. Unfortunately...
liberals and progressives don't have as much in common as liberals and conservatives. All left turns, or all right turns, just keeps them going in opposite circles. Tends to make one dizzy watching them.
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misanthrope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-02-07 03:01 AM
Response to Original message
24. Zimmerman said it best...
Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin' high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
"We'll meet on edges, soon," said I
Proud 'neath heated brow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
"Rip down all hate," I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Girls' faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

A self-ordained professor's tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
"Equality," I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

-Bob Dylan
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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-02-07 05:50 AM
Response to Reply #24
26. Exactly what I was thinking, particularly

the refrain:

"Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now."

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OneBlueSky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-02-07 05:37 AM
Response to Original message
25. I'm 60, and the older I get, the more I understand how little I know . . . n/t
.
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BoneDaddy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-02-07 07:55 AM
Response to Original message
27. I hear ya
ONe area where my view has changed is the death penalty. I used to be a strict anti-death penalty person. Now, especially since I have had children, I realize I would rip someone limb from limb if they hurt my child.
Child molesters? Serial killers? Rapists? I could care less about them, they have abdicated their humanity.
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