I spent the first half of my life as a strident hater of liberals. Then, upon losing a risky bid for Congress, my marriage, business and political reputation disintegrated. After struggling with and for political power for almost a decade, fueled by an undercurrent of anger and righteousness, I left Republican politics. Exhausted and disillusioned, I retreated to a mountain cabin in rural Virginia.
No longer feeling so sure of myself or my world view, and having been humbled to the point of living well below the poverty line, life delivered an unlikely set of teachers. The small town I had chosen was a haven for 1960’s and 70’s back-to-the-landers. For someone whose nickname in the military had been “starch,” this community of hippies was not my first choice for neighbors.
Slowly, I began to understand that the underlying values motivating their behavior – sharing, interdependence, equality, compassion for the weak, a strong sense of justice, freedom, creative self-expression, and a reverence for nature – were the heart that had been missing from my politics.