Monday, September 10, 2012

Experiencing a Total Sea-change

David Baerwald, Welcome to the Boomtown

My most recent upload to Instagram. I'm onekgguy, meet me there!

David Baerwald is a singer-songwriter whose music has been a very big part of the soundtrack to my life for the last 25 years. His songs resonate with me in ways that only the music of a few other artists can. The melodies behind the words are always strong and satisfying but it's his lyrics that draw me in and beg to paint a picture in my head each time I hear them. His music runs the gamut from soft acoustic offerings such as Hello Mary to hard-edged, anger-fueled tracks like The Got No Shotgun Hydrahead Octopus Blues.

In the early days of my online experience I stumbled onto a website dedicated to David. The site was put together by a fan and came complete with a message board where others could join in and offer their view on whatever topic was being kicked around. More often than not the subjects were political in nature. Those were the days when I was lost in a world of ill-conceived and not too well thought out republican ideals. I'd argue my points along with a smattering of other conservative voices against a much larger crowd of left-leaning personalities. David was no stranger to the forum and would often chime in with his opinions that were nearly always 180 degrees different from my own. It seemed the only thing I liked about the guy was his music but no matter how much heat I'd take from him and others because of my beliefs I kept returning, fully intent on steadily chipping away at their (to me) flawed veneers, so sure that I'd eventually reach their cores where I could appeal to that inner-self that had to know I was right.

I'm quite sure I was a total failure in that regard.

What did happen for me though on that forum was that for the first time in my life I was exposed to another worldview in an in-depth way. It was no glancing blow with progressives that I experienced there as we would analyze and defend our sides in each argument. I was exposed to a perspective that caused me to have to push back from my computer on many occasions and reconsider what it was I was professing. I was pro-life (still am) and likely inserted that into too many threads where it stood little chance of helping the cause. I had my core beliefs that Limbaugh was only too helpful in validating for me on his radio program in addition to enhancing them in seductively acceptable ways, ways that now seem so void of any critical thinking. In Limbaugh's world, there's never talk of a symbiotic relationship between CEO/business owner and his/her laborers. Laborers should shut-up and be thankful for the opportunity to work. Limbaugh would never mention how there would be no business to own if it weren't for the workers who made it possible. I didn't fully grasp the importance of a robust middle-class nor could I really empathize with those who were struggling because I was doing fine. Our arguments were sport and we used each other to hone our game.

Somewhere along the way, I grew tired of my associations there and my postings became less and less frequent to the point where I stopped visiting the site altogether. Little did I know then that my political views were on the verge of a total sea-change that would cause me to question everything I was so sure of.

Changing one's views the way I did doesn't happen overnight if it happens at all. The Baerwald board surely softened me and no doubt made it possible for me to in some way identify with the views I'd only recently argued against. Had it not been for the hundreds of conversations I'd had over the years on that little website dedicated to David and his music I'm not sure I'd have been able to make that leap. But I did and it's where I remain today.

I began to think about this transformation of mine only because of a debate I recently had with a co-worker on Facebook. This friend allows no room for questioning his understanding of the intricacies of our society because he's already got it all figured out. It's an act of futility to try and have an exchange of ideas with him or so it seems. But that too was me 8 years ago, afraid to rearrange the box in which I'd so neatly tucked away all of my beliefs and understandings.

But there's hope for him. I'm living proof.

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