My cousin Norman and I often have political diatribes on facebook … Well, not only Norman; I have these conversations regularly with quite a few of my relatives (on all sides of the family) and friends … I feel it’s kind of my duty to represent the other side. And then we get caught up in polarized thinking, the “you’re with us or against us” kind of thinking which is dividng us into camps instead of uniting us in common mission. I usually … At least I try to remain calm and rational in my comments, to avoid demeaning the one or two or group that has another opinion, and to back up my opinions with facts, my faith, and a glimpse into my world view. Today, I was baited again by this re-post of Norman’s … a Republican meme:
I commented that in “those days” I, too, may have been a Republican … I’m not against the party or the people but I cant get behind the platform. His response prompted me to write this blogpost … Since answering in a Facebook comment would be woefully insufficient. He wrote:
I have to wonder what it is you cant get behind. Are you aganist the idea that people should be self reliant, that you help the ones that need help but its NOT a cradle to grave entitlement. Are you against keeping the country safe. Are you against affordable energy. Are you against the Consitution and the idea of limited Govnt. Are you against the idea that we should NOT have reckless spending and should have our elected officials held responsible. Doing what you do for a living I know your not against religous freedom and I have to believe your way too smart to actually believe Obama and the Dem rhetoric about Republicans wanting dirty air and water, and they want to push Grandma off a cliff. Can you really believe that Obama had NOTHING to do with the IRS scandal? That he has held a transparent administration. Really, are the rose colored glasses that strong?
I admit, I do have rose colored glasses … I like them … I consciously choose to err on the side of grace, of trust, of generosity, of optimism. I also, no doubt, never fully grew out of a certain childlike naïveté or adolescent idealism. I have been more than blessed by people and opportunity in my life. I’ve had almost all the benefits of the privileged class. My greatest problems are definitely “first world” problems. So I do my best to approach my political principles from the perspective of the other … the poor, the shunned, the ill, and all those who are non-white, non-Christian, and of non-European decent. I don’t claim to succeed, but I try … Just as I try to understand the other side.
So, Norman, it’s more important for me to be “on the side” of the marginalized than those who have the power and privilege. I will continually fight for help for the poor … Especially those caught in the generational cycles of poverty, those who suffer food insecurity, those who are mentally and physically ill. There is a way out of poverty, but it is not self-reliance; it is we reliance. Only the recognition of the interdependency of us all, will make a dent in fighting poverty. We have all “made it” only because others have helped us along the way. Education, I believe, is another major force here. Not just knowledge, but the ability to reason, to think outside the box, to be exposed to others and new ideas, to form mentor relationships with teachers and older peers … these are the keys to moving out of what you call “cradle to grave entitlement.”
So, yes, I am pro-effective-government … I believe it’s the only institution with the wherewithal to actually fight poverty and uphold the rights of all the people. I honor the Constitution, but just like scripture I realize its interpretation is not as cut and dry as it appears. And it changes as times change. I am disgusted by the corruption, by the idiocy of so many of our bureaucratic policies and procedures, and by the incredible incompetence of both Republicans and Democrats. We need reform, but the reform doesn’t need to shrink the scope of government, just to make it more efficient and effective.
I believe we should hold people … all people … responsible for their actions … Elected, appointed, hired or volunteer. But our government is not separate from every one of us. It is OUR responsibility to deal with the brokenness of our politics, our laws, our systems. Democracy is good … IF voters think more deeply than sound bites or Facebook memes, if every voter is well educated, and if every voter seeks to elect women and men who understand that public service is not about exploiting power for the benefit of contributors, rather its about serving the common good of ALL people.
I am passionate about freedom of religion (or non-religion), and I believe in the separation of church and state … which leads me to advocate for those who’s faith (or lack of it) is ostracized … Muslims, Hindi, Atheists, New Agers, etc. Therefore, I don’t fight for prayer in school or the teaching of creationism. And I don’t believe the state has the right to debate the “sanctity” of marriage … that is a discussion for faith communities; the legality of recognizing family in legal and civil matters is the realm of government.
I do think we are raping the earth in our consumption of fossil fuels. We are not considering the impact we have for generations to come. I am an advocate for alternative and renewable sources of energy … I don’t think that Republicans all want dirty air and water, but I am convinced that our energy policies are more about the bottom line of big oil in the short term than in leading us to a place of sustainability in the long term.
All in all, I would characterize myself as leaning more pro big government and anti big business. I trust the ideology of democracy a whole lot more than capitalism. I am suspect of a system that values economic advantages for stockholders over the quality of life for poor and working classes. Every worker deserves a livable wage, and our minimum wage doesn’t cut it. And those who cannot find work, need counseling, education, apprenticeships, etc. to learn new skills in a highly dynamic market.
I value the safety of all people. I am a self-avowed pacifist … there is never a justifiable use of violence or war. While I understand the reasons for some physical resistance and defense, harming another is always an act of our own corporate brokenness. I think the way we treat “the stranger” in this country is at times diabolical. To deport young people who were raised in the USA to countries which they cannot even remember to break up families who love and depend on each other because one hadn’t filed the right papers or paid the right price is cruel and unusual punishment. We need to understand the Hondurans, Guatemalans, Mexicans and more who risk everything to sneak into our nation are the entrepreneurial (ambitious and motivated) men and women this nation was founded on.
I will support our president … Even when I don’t agree with his tactics. I don’t know if Obama had a hand in the IRS debacle. As an executive leader of the church, I know that those with more responsibility can only work efficiently through delegation of tasks and responsibilities … And when we do that right, we often are not in the loop until the media questions us … That his supporters were aware of it, I’m sure, that Obama, himself, was calling the shots, I doubt it.
The concept of transparency in leadership is a goal, but we cannot ever achieve it … Because we also believe in privacy and upholding confidentiality, there are many time when the line between transparency and over sharing is a fine line to see … Sometimes we only see it after we’ve made the step over and tripped up.
I love this country, I’m an American, and a Christian ( of the Presbyterian variety), I am a libertarian in some things, an activist in others, I’m a socialist in the areas of health care, public utilities, roads (and rest areas) and other infrastructure, transportation, and education.
My rose colored glasses do color the way I see the world. But I can see, and I can challenge and question, and state other opinion and ideas. I know I can only see dimly, but I’m watching and praying, and doing my part. It is later that we see without our rose glasses, without our blinders, with our new glasses ready to see the kingdom. Hindsight may be 20/20, but as long as we’re moving forward, we see only in the shadow of what’s yet to be.