Friday, July 30, 2004

The Oblivious Fringe

I've been reading many of the blogs out there, including some of the more out-there blogs, and I have to wonder out loud just what some of these people are thinking?

Given the present political climate, given what the present administration has done and wishes to do in the future, I just don't understand what exactly these people find so compelling?

Andrew Sullivan, for example, says that he cannot support George W. Bush because of his position on Gay Marriage and his blurring of the boundaries between Religion and Government. The second issue leads directly to the first, and why is he suddenly surprised by Bush's blurring of the distinction? Bush is a Born-Again Christian in that way that only the religiously fanatical can be! He believes that only the righteous, as defined by the Born-Again Christian community he belongs to, will achieve Heaven and that they are the only ones who "know" what is right for all of us. Which, of course, has led to the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fanatics are battling the fanatics. There are other, more prozaic issues involved here as well, but this is the one that is talked about least. The Bush Administration has populated the highest levels of Governemnt with individuals who make Cotton Mather and Torquemada look like agonists. So why is Andrew Sullivan surprised?

But what really gets me is that there are people who have excoriated him for his position! Not only do they believe that he is misguided, they attack him for being a traitor to the cause. Not all of his readers, but a good segment seem to believe that if you have misgivings about Bush, you are insane.

Now, let's be clear: Andrew Sullivan is a homosexual. He is for homosexuals having the same civil rights as white men in the US. So for him, the Gay Marriage Amendment is a big issue. Therefore, if he decides Bush does not represent his position on this issue, why shouldn't he change who he votes for?

But that's only part of the problem. If you're a libertarian, believing that the Government has no right to be in your bedroom or making choices about what you read and say, how can you then argue that Bush and Co. are the best choice for the country? We already know that the Administration wants more access to your private information; We already know that the Patriot Act allows for secret trials and being held without being charged; We already know that John Ashcroft wishes not only to make the Patriot Act permanent but to actually strengthen rules that would further encroach on our liberties; yet there are people who call themselves libertarians and conservatives who support an Administration whose every position pushes the very boundaries of restricting our liberties and would push them even further. And we're not talking about the "so-called" liberal causes here; We're talking about what books you decide to check out of the library or who you decide to sleep with. We're talking about what you do in your own home when it doesn't impact on anyone but yourself. We're talking about giving up what makes America America because of the moral beliefs of a bunch of religous fanatics. Something like The Taliban or Iran.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

One Nation...Indivisible

I've been thinking a great deal about the Pledge of Allegiance lately. Particularly the part which talks about one nation...indivisible. It's a beautiful sentiment, stirring in its way about an America which is a whole. Too bad, it's not true.

We are greatly divided as a nation.  All you have to do is look at your neighbors in many cases to see just how divided we are.  We are divided over religion, over marriage, over what is considered appropriate bedroom behavior, over The War in Iraq, the Economy, Education, and on and on.  But the thing is, we don't have to be.

It's not like we're divided because we believe fundamentally different things; we don't.  I'm making an assumption here, but I would suspect that most of us want for our children to have a good education and a good life, that most of us want the same for ourselves, that we want to feel safe, that we want to be free to lead productive lives, that we want to be healthy, wealthy and wise, and that we don't want interference in our lives.  I would think that that is true all along the spectrum, whether you consider yourself a liberal or a conservative, a democrat or a republican or an independent.

So why are we so divided?  What makes me believe that there is such a huge division?  I'll tell you right now, I consider myself to be a pretty liberal individual - and by liberal I mean one in the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition of one - I think that we should help each other, I think that we are responsible to and for each other, and I think that we can do good to and for each other.  The thing is, I don't think that all conservatives disagree with me.  So I have to ask again: Why are we so divided?

I think part of the problem may be summed up in one word: Hypocrisy.  Whole groups of people profess to have your best interests at heart - parents, teachers, ministers, politicians, businessmen, you name it - but what it comes down to is that most don't believe you can run your life as well as they can.  And they're being pretty hypocritical when they put that premise forward.  Ministers screw up; teachers screw up; politicians screw up (really, really screw up!), business people screw up (Really, really, really screw up!), but somehow all these people seem to know what's best for us!  And of course, I don't mean all of them.  Many of these people try hard to be understanding, tolerant, humble, and thoughtful.  The problem is that the small majority that aren't, generally are the loudest and do the most damage.

Somehow, the intolerant blowhard whose an ex-alcoholic and ex-drug abuser and couldn't hold down a job without his Daddy's help for years is the one calling the shots.  He's self-righteous as all get-out about what needs to be done and who needs to do it, even when he has no clue and wouldn't do it when he could.

And their weapon is fear and division.  To make you hate and dispise the other, whatever that other may be, so that they can get a firmer hold on your life, so that they can better control your thoughts, your being, your very family.  All because they're a bunch of hypocrits who don't care one iota about you and me.

The last two paragraphs are about the Bush Administration.  That's who they are.  The "We know better than you" people.  But the Bush Administration couldn't have gotten to where it is now without all the other "We know better than you" people: the religious leaders who tell you to keep it tucked in even while their sneeking around on the sly; the government types who attack like rabid dogs while their doing the same thing they are condemning others for doing; the pundits on TV who lie about where they came from, what they've done, and then distort the facts to fit their limited world-view, the organizations who use the word truth when what they really mean is their version of the "truth."

If we want to be a nation easily divided, all we have to do is listen to the crap, listen to the noise, and learn to hate just like they want us to.

Don't listen.  Think for yourself.  Ask your neighbor what s/he wants out of life.  Be who you are.