Surrounded by progressives, my strong female voice and feminine perspective is welcome. With conservatives (even when I was one), I feel constricted & silenced. Why?
It’s about conformity. Progressives tend to expect differing opinions and perspectives, and work for comprehensive policies to include a diverse society. Some dissonance is respected. It’s not a blanket acceptance – especially if opinions vary from staunch liberal political ideology, but dialogue – even heated dialogue – is welcome. It brings refinement.
In conservative environments, conformity is necessary. Tightness grips my chest for fear I’ll say something ‘wrong’ and be severely criticized – not based upon my ability to articulate my opinions or nuanced arguments, but because ‘wrong’ to conservatives is morally wrong in their opinions and subculture. Dissenting means I’m not Christian enough, or American enough, even if I am capable of giving every reason why faith instructs my views and the same soldiers died for MY freedoms as theirs.
It’s disrespectful to silence anyone, and it’s fundamentally Un-American. The Bible says to “question every spirit,” and my parents told me to listen to my heart and research the Bible if I felt even a respected preacher’s sermon was biblically off-base.
The more knee-jerk, abrasive, judgmental, uncomfortable pushback I receive – from *anyone* – conservative or liberal, the more I’m inwardly reaffirmed that questioning, dialogue, exploring grey-area arguments is absolutely necessary. It’s painful, I recognize their motives are rooted in fear or past hurt of their own, but after a lifetime of being falsely judged I’m more willing than ever to wade into the churning waters of discomfort. I’ll continually strive to be respectful, but I won’t be silenced by attempts of others to control my inward self or outward expression.
I only hope that by setting an example, it paves the way for others who aren’t as willing to outwardly express what they inwardly feel.