Why she became a socialist

Recently I visited a friend’s house and saw a photo of a little girl with those super-short bangs that were popular when I was young. I asked my friend Liz (I’ll change the names) if it was her, and she said no, it was her sister Mary. “It’s because of Mary that I’m a socialist,” she said, and went on to say that Mary had died when she was 10 years old and Liz was 16.

“From the time Mary was two weeks old everyone knew she was going to die,” Liz said. She had a heart condition. “Everyone was always so nice to her, and because of that she was really, really nice herself.” She remembered a rare instance when the girls’ mother had lost patience and yelled at Mary, and then felt guilty and apologized. So that her mother wouldn’t feel bad, Mary brushed it off: “Don’t worry, Mom, it wasn’t a big deal.”

Liz decided she wanted everyone to be treated like Mary was so that everyone would have the chance to be like Mary was. She thought the only way to get that was socialism.

Often, when you ask people how or why they became socialists, anger is a big part of it. Righteous anger, of course—a burning sense of injustice. I would have thought Liz would be one of those; she’s a passionate person. I was struck by the idea that a desire for socialism could come from seeing the fruits of love.