Lessons from Mom and Dr. Zhivago

“It’s only in mediocre books that people are divided into two camps and have nothing to do with each other.” From Dr Zhivago

My mother and I used to have horrific arguments about politics and religion. She blamed the problems of the world on the evil left. I, in turn, would blame those same problems on the evil right. Despite mom’s valiant efforts to raise me as a good, conservative christian boy, I had chosen to follow my own path. I had become a good, liberal, atheist man. She knew that she had helped me to achieve the “good” part but the remaining “liberal” and “atheist” parts were a constant source of bewilderment for her. In her mind one could not be both good and liberal at the same time. And yet here I was openly defying that belief. She survived this dichotomy with a mixture of denial, prayer, and hope.

The arguments between mom and I escalated once I moved to Europe and began to see the world in a much broader light than I had before. Despite her frustration with me mom always found a way to show her unconditional love. That love would come in the form of a “care package” arriving on my door-step on a monthly basis. The package would always contain food items not available in Europe. I’d open the package rabidly in search of Oreo cookies, Twizzlers, Dorito’s and, my favorite, Heinz 57 sauce. I would always find nestled among these culinary delights the latest literary offering from the likes of Goldwater, Kirk, Limbaugh, or some other conservative writer. I would respond in turn by sending mom Cadbury’s chocolate, Hobnob cookies and salt and vinegar potato chips, accompanied by books from my favorite liberals including Chomsky, Zinn, or Wolf.

We would both read our gifted books and then argue over our findings. Usually the only thing we could agree upon was the love between us. In the end our politics and religion could not divide us. This taught me that salvation would not come from either the left or from the right. It will come only from those of us who are willing to meet in the middle. 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Lessons from Mom and Dr. Zhivago

  1. that’s a great little story. It’s good to know that people can still connect with each other in something that’s universal. If only there was a political party of “Love”. They’d get my vote every time. Where in Europe are you living? I’ve lived all over the world, and there’s no place finer, in my mind, that my very own United States.

  2. fivereflections

    Hello – nice to meet you
    David in Maine USA

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