Sunday, December 09, 2018

A Tale of Two Parties

This restores my faith in liberals, at least for the moment.  We went to a Christmas party two years ago given by a psychiatrist friend, which included a cookie swap and caroling, so it should have been right up our alley. The group was heavy with both mental health providers and UU's, and we had not been in the house more than a few minutes before the hostess was loudly complaining that Trump was in danger of starting a land war in Asia because he had just called the new president (prime minister?) of Taiwan to congratulate him on his victory.  In the midst of the caroling one woman started to describe to us a story she was writing about the Wise Men coming to Trump and telling him to care about the poor or something. Fortunately, the Director of Behavioral Health for the state quietly but authoritatively reminded everyone that we were singing carols at the moment.

Very typical liberal signalling, I thought. Irritating but not huge. And I do love caroling. Yet we didn't go last year or this year.

Last night's party was also thrown by a psychiatrist friend.  I was apprehensive there might be something similar, because this would likely be even more thoroughly peopled by mental health providers. I don't know about UU's.  Probably few or none. I also knew the host was very liberal, and the social workers who were coming were all well-known to me, with a few who had made the occasional...hmm, well, no need to describe the comments, really. They varied in tone and intensity over the years.

I was practicing in my headignoring or deflecting signalling comments. Which is what I usually do*, but sometimes I take the bait and give a little pushback. I try to blink in surprise. I needn't have bothered.  All conversation was wonderful, a little rowdy. The only thing remotely close to a political comment was a reference to "fake news," but it was merely riffing off that phrase as a common cultural concept, with no clear target.

One clear difference was the greater presence of unit and support staff - mental health workers, housekeepers, utilisation review, and most especially psych nurses. Psych nurses in clusters are rather a force of nature, as their candor talking about (ahem) indelicate things with each other pretty much drives out other conversations. If they are political, it tends to be liberal, but not universally so, and they tend even more to be apolitical.  Also, they are largely draw from the aspirational classes rather than the hereditary elites, and their spouses are as well.  Exceptions abound, but those are the trends.

*Yes, really


HMS Defiant said...

Last night we had a dinner party. There was a university prof and his wife plus a toxicologist and his wife, a salesman and his wife, a former grad student friend and us, plus my sister and her university prof other half were invited but failed somehow to cross the 20 feet that separate our houses and

in 3 plus hours of wonderful conversation there wasn't a single mention of politics and Trump.

We live in one of the flyover states and politics aren't neccessarily on our minds 24/7.

It was a very good party and 3 of them brought wonderful desserts that are still waiting for me in the kitchen today.

Sam L. said...

Sounds like you lucked out!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, HMS Defiant's comment is apropos. Not everyone is politics-obsessed, and I probably will be happier if I just stay away from those3 who are - on any side.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

BTW, @ HMS Defiant - your comment notifications often go to my spam folder for some reason. I don't always check that. It doesn't seem to make any practical difference, as your comments appear anyway. If you have been having problems elsewhere, however, it might be a clue. I don't know why it wouldn't like your name, but that might be it.

You will notice the filter doesn't pick up cab companies and natural medicines in Mumbai, however. Weird.

Dan Kurt said...

What are UU's?

Dan Kurt

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Unitarian Universalists. Perhaps they are more common in the NE. They were the smaller division when the Puritans divided, the other being Congregationalists, now mostly United Church of Christ.

The Puritans sought to read God's will in two books, the Bible and what they called The Book of Nature, the signs of Providence around them. Those gradually became more nature-worshipers and eventually all those Transcendentalists and other late 19th-C groups. I used to call the UU's the Save-The-Whales church for that reason.

james said...

UU humor

RichardJohnson said...

I used to call the UU's the Save-The-Whales church for that reason.

As a former officer in Liberal Religious Youth, the former youth branch for UUs, I was going to add some UU jokes, but James beat me to it.

During Obama's initial presidential campaign, there was some scuttlebutt that referred to the Unitarian church his mother and grandparents attended in Mercer Island as the little red church. While I didn't know it when I was in high school, I did later find out that someone living in an adjacent town who occasionally came to our LRY meetings was a red diaper baby. So, the "little red church" had some resonance. Prompted by news of a high school reunion, I recalled another LRY member who irritated me by not having consistent values or ethics- such as being irritated at others behaving just as he did. I Googled him and his family, and found out that his father spent a decade as a CPUSA operative- not just a member. His father quit after the 1956 secret speech. So, there were two red diaper babies in my LRY group- who understandably didn't publicize this when they were in high school.

Texan99 said...

For a short while when I was quite young, maybe five or six, I attended a Unitarian Sunday school. All I can remember is the lessons evolution and the geological history of the Earth. I never regularly attended any traditional Sunday school, though occasionally my sisters and I would go with cousins or something. Once they had us draw Bible scenes on panels of paper, tape them together, and roll them up into a scroll. That was great.

Texan99 said...

This was good:

Gods rest ye, Unitarians, let nothing you dismay;
Remember there's no evidence there was a Christmas Day;
When Christ was born is just not known, no matter what they say,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

Our current Christmas customs come from Persia and from Greece,
From solstice celebrations of the ancient Middle East.
This whole darn Christmas spiel is just another pagan feast,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

There was no star of Bethlehem, there was no angels' song;
There could not have been wise men for the trip would take too long.
The stories in the Bible are historically wrong,
O, Tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact!

RichardJohnson said...

While that song is from a link about UU jokes, it accurately describes the way a lot or most UU people believe.

But some UU people don't appreciate the jokes.Garrison Keillor Is no "Companion" for Unitarian Universalists. As a former vice president of a local LRY chapter, I reserve the right to tell as many UU jokes as I want to.

I guess the author didn't mind Garrison Keillor savaging Dubya or Lake Wobegoners. What probably irritated the author of that piece was that UUs were target of mockery just as Dubya or Lake Wobegoners or deplorables, which implied that UUs deserved just as much scorn as Dubya or Lake Wobegoners or deplorables. IIRC, Keillor stopped broadcasting before Hillary made "deplorables" famous, but I suspect that were he still broadcasting, he would be jabbing at them.

Part of the problem is that social justice people- which would describe many or most UUs- are SO serious about saving the world that they lose their sense of humor.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Richard Johnson - I would agree. Yet I think it is more than seriousness, for seriousness would welcome other possible solutions to problems. I think there is an anger disguised as compassion. Nice people in many ways. Two I can think of are among my all-time favorite, nicest people. Not all are angry, certainly, or not so much that they'd stand out from other groups. Yet some just are, and the others seem not to pick up on it, so you have to wonder. They may be near the center of New England elitist needing to see others as evil. They didn't really split off from the Puritans as the Puritans split into two.

As for Keillor and his mocking them, I had a post about something similar that I will bring forward. Maybe two.

Tom Bridgeland said...

Not just psych nurses. All nurses. We don't talk politics much at work. More interesting subjects always available there.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Tom Bridgeland - I agree in general. However the deeply offending hostess in the first example (she is a constant signaler about sexism and evil conservatives in the workplace too - glad she moved to another hospital) is a psych nurse, and two others are among the greatest offenders I have encountered. The other nurses just let them rant, neither encouraging nor challenging them, which is probably the best strategy.