Friday, July 13, 2012

A Prayer for Politics

A Sculpture at Shidoni Foundry in Santa Fe, NM
Dear God (or the Universe or the Holy Spirit or Buddha or Allah or whomever) please spare me the upcoming ugly battle on TV (and Facebook etc.) for the next presidential election. American democracy is a wonderful thing and we are fortunate to live in the U.S.. We can have our opinions and hopefully learn to be respectful of others viewpoints. But during an election year does it have to be so downright nasty and mean-spirited when they are expressed? I cannot bear witness to the upcoming fight and the good vs. evil propaganda.

It is like a high school football game with the “we are better than they are” attitudes. It is a win/lose scenario of “let’s get nasty and injure” our opponents. I have seen some awful behaviors from both parties—along with examples of truly humanitarian behaviors—trust me neither one is better they are, just different. Can we wrap ourselves around differences or is fear and loathing going to abide?

People seem to blindly borrow their political party affiliations from their parents (or spouses or church) instead of doing real research -- reading up on both sides and investigating the different platforms. Do you really know what each party stands for in the political arena? Do you really understand economics, deficits, foreign policy, or the banking and monetary system? Do you know the reason there was a financial crisis and an Occupy Wall Street movement? Do you understand what the wars cost? Do you know why the employment rate has continued to drop over the last 6 years? These are some tough subjects to absorb and they require much time and energy. Would you be willing to read several books and views from unbiased information sources? There appears to be a filter in the mind which blocks any meaningful knowledge from entering the brain if that information comes from the opposing party or team.  Speaking of high school again, do you remember the high school debate team? Debates were democracy in action and they had an educated presentation unlike the mud-slinging of political commercials. We actually listened to both sides of our classmates’ arguments and thought it through. Well some of us did.

History tells us that a politician, Joe McCarthy, damaged hundreds of people because they supported social  programs and he feared communism would take over America. Likewise, Americans adored President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (he was elected to office four times) when he assisted the country with his social programs during the depression. The difference may be in historical timing and intention or striking a meaningful balance for the needs of the people. And to borrow a quote from the book Dreamers of the Day by author Mary Doria Russell: “When it comes down to it, I don't have much in the way of advice to offer you, but here it is: Read to children.Vote. And never buy anything from a man selling fear."

In the 1960s, I saw many people injured and killed in the fight for civil rights trying to end discrimination against African Americans. Five decades later, I am utterly proud of this country for electing an African-American as President of the United States. We have come a long way since Thomas Jefferson penned these words in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

I believe a great democratic country needs a sprinkling of social programs and social consciousness, a support system for productive and environmentally-respectful industries that do no harm, a respectful space between government control and an individual’s rights, a good legal system with trial by jury, a balance of power in the government, a lack of greed, a publicly owned television/media network, a plan to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves for whatever reason, and good old-fashioned understanding, kindness and acceptance for all the differences in our vast human population (both at home and abroad). We the people of the United States of American have come so close. Perhaps it is the last few that are too idealistic and, so I turn to you.

Please God make us all kinder in our politics and able to work together for a better world.



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