Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dancing with the Elephant...

I went to the DMV yesterday. (No, this will not be a DMV rant.) I don’t particularly care for trips to the DMV, but, all things considered, yesterday’s wasn’t too bad.

I had to take the written test for renewals. I knew of this test. I chose not to study. I am, after all, simply a native Californian returning home from the front lines of theological conflict. I failed the first time.

I missed two questions that I hesitated on and chose against my original instinct. (I know, I know. The original instinct is usually the one to go with. Unless you’re George Costanza, in which case every instinct you’ve ever had is wrong, and, therefore, you should do the opposite.) You can take the test up to three times without paying again. I passed the second one.

But it isn’t the test or anything else about the DMV experience itself that causes me to write about it. Rather, the paperwork I filled out previous to my appointment is sticking in my mind.

While filling out the paperwork, I made two decisions that caused me a little deliberation (three if you count the question: “Weight?”). The first was whether I wished to register as an organ donor. Ever since Mickey Mantle campaigned for people to become organ donors in the wake of his life-threatening issues in the mid-90s, I had always contemplated it. Yet, there is something totally different about officially designating it on my driver’s license. Facing that blank box, I wrestled with some significant questions. A little glimpse at my fragile psyche as I weighed my options:

What if I die and other people get all my pieces? Will they all have to give my parts back to me at the resurrection? If so, will they get stuck with their defective parts again? Could I really do that to someone? (These are the actual concerns that crossed my mind. I couldn’t make this stuff up.)

In the end, I concluded that everyone will be okay once they get their glorified body, so I might as well make someone’s life better prior to all that. I checked the “Yes! I want to be an organ donor box” and felt like that was the “pro-life” thing to do.

The second question was not as easily resolved. In fact, I’m still thinking about my decision. As I registered to vote, one section asked if I wished to claim affiliation with a political party, and, if I did, which would be my party of choice.

Understand, that at almost any other time in my 29 years previous to this moment, I would never have hesitated on this question. Yet, recently, my affiliation with the elephant has caused me a little concern, a little embarrassment, and not a little head shaking.

For the first time in my life, I thought seriously about turning my back on the Republicans and checking the “I do not wish to claim affiliation with any political party” box. That would teach them a lesson, right? When the long-time faithful begin turning away, they notice, right? They stop doing stupid and embarrassing stuff, right? As I debated, I envisioned me leaving the party, followed within hours by a pleading, if nearly unintelligible phone call from Governor Schwarzenegger begging me to return. I also envisioned a congratulatory phone call from Michael Moore, a rather chilling thought, to be honest.

The choice was tough: does the situation call for me to behave like Luther and break all ties, or like Wesley and seek to be a catalyst for change from within?

In the end, I decided I was more Wesley than Luther: I checked the “Republican” box. I concluded four things—See? Luther would have had 95!—that helped me make my decision:

1. Nobody in the GOP would notice if I left.
2. Since my convictions aren’t determined by party affiliation and I choose to vote my convictions rather than the party line, I wasn’t selling out by staying with the party.
3. Remaining in the party, seeking to change it from within, seemed the more honorable thing to do. This party—like Gotham City—is not beyond saving.
4. If I switched, what uncomfortable topic could come up at dinner parties that could possibly parallel the tension introduced whenever the divided political affiliations in my home are mentioned?

I decided to dance with the one that brought me, no matter how ugly her behavior after we arrived at the dance. Maybe someday I’ll want a different dance partner, but for now I’m content to straighten my bow tie and head back out to the floor. Hopefully soon, she’ll learn a new dance step or two. Maybe I can help.

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