Anybody Besides Me Find This Disturbing?

Although John Edwards is one of the biggest asshats on the planet, I wish him and his wife no ill, and sincerely hope her newly-recurrent cancer goes back into remission for a good long time.

In one of the numerous sound bites this morning, explaining why he’s not suspending his Presidential campaign despite his wife’s incurable cancer, Edwards said, and I paraphrase, “We want to change this country we love so much.”

Somebody trying to change someone (or something) they profess to love really pushes my hot button.

One of the last things my first mistake said to me before the divorce was, “I wish you’d change!”

It’s an oft-told tale. You’re allegedly in love with somebody–and all you want to do is change them.

No, you’re not in love with the person–you’re in love with your fantasy idea of the person, and when the real person (or country) is not marching in lockstep with your fantasy, you want to change the real person to become your fantasy. Or something like that.

No, Mr. Edwards, you don’t love your country. You love your fantasy idea of the liberal paradise you think the country should be–which the voters said a resounding “no” to.

UPDATE: I just heard the sound bite again. Here is what he said:

“We’re committed to changing this country that we love so much.”

You love it, but you want to change it.

::sound of teeth grinding::

UPDATE: Chris has posted a very thought-provoking comment, enough that I think it’s worthy of bringing it here, into the light of day. Here it is:

Meh – that’s BS. If you love someone (or something) and they are (it’s) not perfect, then of course you want them to change. That doesn’t mean that you don’t love them. Love is about sticking around even though they’re not perfect.

If you don’t love something, then you ditch it. You only stick around if you care for it at least a smidge.

As for Edwards – I’ve no comment, I just had to say something about the stupidity of your premise.

In your magical world of “I love you – don’t change”, do the wives all say “I LOVE the fact that you leave dirty clothes, dishes and garbage everywhere! Take me big man!” Or do they just call the magical clean-up-and-massage fairies that make their headaches go away?

Reality check: real love sounds like this “I love you, and I put up with your mess long enough – clean it up!”

And here is my response:

Valid points, Chris. There’s certainly something to be said for your premise.

Of COURSE if my man (that would be ex-man, in my case) habitually leaves filth all over the place and expects me to clean it up, I want him to become more considerate (change, if you will) so he’ll clean up his own messes! And of course I try to change myself into a better person, little by little, all the time–but I do it for me, not for anyone else. Perhaps a better term for this process would be “personal growth.”

It’s just that the word “change” really has bad connotations for me, and that was why I jumped all over Edwards’ comment. My first mistake’s wanting me to “change” meant he wanted me to keep supporting him while he sat around on his butt trying to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up–and I was supposed to thank him for the marvelous privilege of doing so. I was supposed to follow him around with a vacuum, a duster and a butt-wiper for all I know, and then jump into the sack and make his day at the snap of his fingers. This was a guy whose mother and older sisters did the first of the above for him until he left home. They did him no favors. This man wanted a mommy he could do the other thing with–the best of all possible worlds. I think he still hasn’t figured this one out because in 19 years he has never remarried. Couldn’t convince a woman what a prize catch he is, I guess.

Now if he had wanted me to “change” in the context of becoming a better person, the word might not push my buttons the way it does. That man wanted me to “change” in ways that would suit him and his perceived needs–not for anything to do with who I am and who I would like to become as I grow. And he was not willing to “change” for me, i.e. grow the hell up and be an equal partner in the marriage, instead of me feeling like I was raising a child who was actually older than me. (Why did I marry him? Beats the hell out of me. I can’t remember.)

If John Edwards had said something more along the lines of “working towards making this country we both love into an even better place” I would not have jumped all over him.

Anyway… thanks for writing. As I say… comments are always welcome, even if they disagree with me, as long as they don’t involve ad hominem attacks or filth. No, calling my premise stupid is not an attack. Calling ME stupid might be… although I’ve called myself worse from time to time. 🙂

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6 Responses to “Anybody Besides Me Find This Disturbing?”

  1. Samantha Says:

    Well said!

  2. Bum Says:

    Brava!

  3. Jeff D Says:

    The Japanese equivalent for “hear, hear, hear!”

  4. Chris Says:

    Meh – that’s BS. If you love someone (or something) and they are (it’s) not perfect, then of course you want them to change. That doesn’t mean that you don’t love them. Love is about sticking around even though they’re not perfect.

    If you don’t love something, then you ditch it. You only stick around if you care for it at least a smidge.

    As for Edwards – I’ve no comment, I just had to say something about the stupidity of your premise.

    In your magical world of “I love you – don’t change”, do the wives all say “I LOVE the fact that you leave dirty clothes, dishes and garbage everywhere! Take me big man!” Or do they just call the magical clean-up-and-massage fairies that make their headaches go away?

    Reality check: real love sounds like this “I love you, and I put up with your mess long enough – clean it up!”

  5. Chris Says:

    “i.e. grow the hell up and be an equal partner in the marriage”

    Yeah, that sucks. I need to grow the hell up too, but my wife is my strongest motivation to do so. Heck, just to win her hand I had to grow up quite a bit. Then marriage happened and I had to grow up, then kids came and I had to grow up more, now the kids are getting older.. The problem is I haven’t quite finished the first round of growing up! 😉

    I typically don’t change for my own sake. I don’t find myself to be worth that much effort anyway. Life is just more satisfying when you can forget about yourself and live for something greater. Sounds like the ex was grounded firmly in himself though. Wouldn’t it be nice if he could have stopped thinking about himself and spent all his time caring about the woman he (supposedly) forsook all others for?

    With your clarification, I do see how the “We’re committed to changing this country we love so much” can sound so bad.

    “Oh honey! I love the White House so much that when you become president let’s change it into the Blue House.” (cue evil laughter)

  6. CheckingIn Says:

    On the subject of “love” and “change”, I once heard:

    Women marry men hoping they’ll change.
    Men marry women hoping they won’t.

    Both are wrong.

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