This post is in response to GreatWhiteBear's challenge:
"We all pretty much know what we believe. But ever ask yourself why you believe what you do? Did you have an epiphany? Ever think about who might have influenced your thought process? Do you believe the things you do simply because it's what your parents believed? My challenge to you.... Tell me who you are, what you believe, why. Who influenced you, who you admire. Post it on your blog or in my comments (let me know if you blog it)."
My post of 6/1, pretty much covers my views on religion. My Robert H. Heinlein quote of 6/3 gives you insight on how I live my life. NOW I need to look inside myself and discover WHY I live the way I do. Tough assignment GWB!
I guess my life boils down to the old nature vs. nurture debate.
Genetically, I come from a 100% Norwegian mother and a 50% German, 50% English, Scotch-Irish father. OH BOY, a LOT of stubborn, hard-headed genes here!
I'm almost 100%, 3rd generation American. Most of my family came here in the 1850s, although 1 branch of my mother's family has been here since the 1820s. This branch stayed out east for a generation before heading west. The rest of my ancestors headed west to Minnesota and Wisconsin immediately upon arriving in America.
My Dad's family was 100% live off the land, self-educated, do-it-yourself farmers. We pioneered southern Minnesota! Unlike GWB, we never fed George Washington. However, Frank James tried to buy horses from my great-grandfather, after the Northfield Raid. My great-grandpa's best friends, as a child, were the Native Americans in a nearby village. My Dad's family was never rich, but they lived a joyful life, filled with the love of nature and children. To this day, our family reunions are conducted outdoors, with kid-friendly activities. We're a noisy bunch, with all our 4th and 5th generation kids and dogs running around. We survive on potlucks and the "my house is your house" credo. If one of the kids scrapes a knee, we think nothing of going through each other's medicine cabinets. We all have a great sense of humor and tease each other unmercifully.
My Mom's family is more educated, and snobby. Here, I come from a long line of bankers, teachers, Lutheran ministers and administrators. We also have a famous Norwegian artist, Andreas Askvold, on this side of the family. There were also a lot of farmers, but they've been pretty well forgotten, as the lower side of the family. Family reunions, on my Mom's side of the family, are quiet, civilized, and totally BORING!! It would be UNTHINKABLE to enter one of their homes or refridgerators without express permission. Z and L have refused to attend another one of these events. My Mom's side of the family is extremely proud of their lineage and can trace it back to a barbarian Queen of Norway, Queen Sigrid the Beautiful. I've never been able to find ANYTHING about this woman, so I'm starting to think she's a "delusion of grandeur".
Now for the nurture side of my personality.
I'm an only child, so all my parents' hopes and dreams were wrapped up in me. My parents are ultra-conservative. EVERYTHING is black and white to them. Shades of gray don't exist! I was raised in a very strict, loving environment. My parents encouraged me to think for myself and not follow the crowd (that one came back and bit them BIG TIME). I was taught to respect the property and rights of others. My Dad taught me to respect the balance of nature and to "leave it as you found it". My childhood was filled with tent trips into wilderness areas that have since been civilized. I take pride in the ability to light a fire, ANYWHERE, with only 1 match. My Dad learned carpentry and cabinet making from his uncle and I was Dad's apprentice. Dad taught me to raise a puppy to become a member of the family. His family loves, respects and understands animals and I have never feared ANY animal. This trait has passed on to my children. My parents instilled a strong work ethic and tremendous sense of self-esteem in me. This has seen me through a lot of hard times.
Now for the epiphany part of my life. This is the hardest part for me. I've never really thought of any "light bulb moments" in my life that have changed everything. There HAD to be something as I'm a LOT different, politically, from my parents.
Graduating in 1974, I'm a product of the hippie generation. Having been raised surrounded by nature, I found the back-to-nature movement a natural progression in my life. I recycle and compost religiously. I avoid all man-made fertilizers and herbicides. Out of necessity, I have been forced to sparingly use commercial ant-killer. Birds, bats, and dragonflies help keep the mosquito population down in our yard. Prescription medications are kept to a minimum in our lives, although Prozac saved our daughter's life when she was a teen. I'm currently successfully treating my perimenopause and my husband's restless leg syndrome with vitamins and herbal remedies.
Free love wasn't much of an issue in my life, as I'm a totally monogamous individual. However, I DON'T believe that marriage is a piece of paper, it's a lifestyle! Committed couples, living together, are just as married as those who have the piece of paper, in my eyes. I also don't believe that homosexuality is a CHOICE! I think I've FINALLY convinced my parents of this; one of my major life accomplishments!
I think the biggest hippie influence in my life has been the anti-establishment movement. Ever since my teen years I've ALWAYS questioned authority. I'm extremely suspicious of big business and the two-party system. My parents came close to disowning me for not voting for "Saint Bush" in the last election.
The next, and perhaps greatest, influence in my life, has been my husband. I was raised to be a "good girl" and lived my life trying to please EVERYBODY. My husband taught me to unashamedly revel in my wild side. He taught me to be accountable to myself first, followed by our accountability to each other and our children. What a freeing idea!! My parents have NEVER forgiven him for this.
I guess this about covers my life up to the present. I like to think that I'm constantly evolving as a person. Some would say that I'm "stuck in a rut", but I really enjoy the rut we have created for ourselves. We live a relatively peaceful, loving life. What more could I possibly ask?
To my readers: Feel free to take up GWB's challenge. Let me know if you write a post on this topic.