Describe an Experience that Defines Your Family

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In my house, politics is a touchy subject. How could it not be when you’re a bleeding heart, commie-loving liberal and your father is a rabid, greedy, Fox-watching capitalist? I remember one night during the election of 2008, my family gathered around the TV to watch a presidential debate. My dad, though, had not come downstairs yet, and the debate was about to start. Sarah Palin, Public Enemy Number One for the House Democrats (my mom and me), had just experienced a disastrous fall from grace following the infamous Katie Couric interview. For my father, Sarah Palin was a national treasure: a strong woman and a Republican who didn’t want to raise his taxes. My mother and I were still unsure how he was handling the realization that she was also a little less than experienced. We expected him to trudge down the stairs dejected, ego bruised, the fire of his convictions snuffed out by the fall of his “dear leader.” Instead, he trotted down the stairs like Rocky. My mother and I looked at him in horror as he presented a white cotton shirt with the words “I’m not Balin’ on Palin” scribbled on the front in bright sharpie marker. Two can play at this game, I said to myself. I skipped up the stairs, found an old white t-shirt and sharpies, and wrote “Obama-Rama” on the front in rainbow colors. We spent the rest of the night cheering for and heckling our candidates, watching with as much excitement as most families watch the Super Bowl.
Presidential debates get us so riled up because, in my family, it is important to stand for something. To my dad, it doesn’t matter that I’m voting for “Comrade Obama” (as he has nicknamed our President) in 2012, it only matters that I am voting. I am guided by a set of core beliefs, and that’s what makes him proud of me. For this reason, passion defines our family. Passion, to me, means being awake to the world, living with eyes wide open and being motivated by something deeper than a slot in a wallet. This passion extends beyond the world of politics, though. Every member of my family has something that shapes his or her worldview. For my father, it’s hard work, his main source of pride, and his family, his main source of joy. For my mom, it’s the environment and the will to save it through the sustainability group she founded. For me, well, it’s hard to choose just one driving influence in my belief system. I have had the opportunity to travel, so I know how important it is to be curious about and respectful of other cultures. I’ve also learned to consider the environment precious, since it is so hard to come by in the suburbs. Horseback riding has taught me that women are equal to men, and that heels were invented not for strutting down the catwalk but for keeping you in the stirrups. Furthermore, people have been kind to me all my life, so I want to return the favor. That is why I always try to be generous and stand up for social justice wherever there is a deficiency of it. These values make me who I am and guide my actions and decisions; they’re the reason why a rainbow Obama shirt is hanging in my closet.
So why do presidential debates get my family so worked up? My mom, dad, and I share a fundamental a desire to be lit up by the issues. We argue, debate, and vote so that our voices are heard. We stand up in the current, rather than idly drift along. The way I see it, a core belief system is something to keep hold on to. Without it, I would be quickly swept away.





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