Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First entry. The new year

I've never been one to make and keep New Year's resolutions. It's not that I don't think I have room for self-improvement—sure I do. But like many people, I think there is something fresh and significant about the dawn of a new year. For one thing, spring is on the way, which is more than symbolic renewal. It's earthy and organic and real. And so I look forward to the warmer days, the greening of the lawns, the budding of the trees, the scents of the new blossoms. So maybe, instead of resolutions, I want to bud out, to throw off the coats of the old year, throw open the windows and let in that first light's chilly air.

And to my way of thinking, too. I consider myself a thinking man, which means that I don't hitch my emotions and feelings to some particular group or political party. I don't have a preset bunch of buttons that can be pushed to make me react automatically (even though I do have those buttons and I do react automatically to some things).

I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. Although I keep up with the news and vote, I'm just as likely to split my vote, sometimes even voting for independents, who usually don't stand much of a chance of winning. But I don't get involved enough to lobby for a third party. I'm not sure the multi-party systems of some countries, as in Northern Ireland for example, is any better than our two-party system—or should I say what evolved into our two-party "system." The tension between the two parties is always there, like the north and south poles of a magnet; and we seem to have this back and forth and incessant tension between those who want less government (who really don't want less government; they just want our government to have big defense budgets and small or non-existent social budgets) and those who want more government (who really don't want more government; they just want our government to have big social programs and small, lean military budgets).

I really didn't like George Bush, the second one. He was unwise going into Iraq, when he could have gone full-tilt boogie after Osama bin Laden. And I really don't care for Obama. He seems almost catatonic. ¿Sí se puede? And just when is this supposed to occur? Ok...I know, "yes we can" as soon as the Democratically controlled congress gets some backbone to really pass that health care overhaul, rather than being enthrall to the medical lobby, the insurance lobby.

And I really don't like the "conservative" radio talk show hosts. I listen to Rush Limbaugh say things like the "four corners of deceit" in which he includes SCIENCE!  He knows he has a flock of sheep (duh, duh, ditto Rush!), and he knows the best way to control the actions of sheep is to get them to voluntarily lobotomize their thinking capabilities and to react automatically, to have buttons that can be pushed at will by the leaders. Ever noticed the talking points that these talk show hosts seem to have agreed upon for each broadcast day? They have the same take on each issue, and they pound away at the same talking points. But I'm not letting the "liberal" talk show hosts off the hook, either. Same scenario, same tactics.

Ciscero said that you should know your enemies better than they know themselves, which means I have to listen to both sides "conservative" and "liberal" and when an issue comes up that I'm interested in, I know the arguments of both sides and then I can look at my own thoughts and decide. That is if I have to decide. What these talk show hosts want—both ends of the pole—is for their listeners not to think, not to listen to the other side, to react in a programmed way.

Bam! You had a gut reaction.

Gay Marriage.
Another gut reaction.

Illegal Drugs.

Do you know that there are people who can label Obama as both a Communist and a Nazi at the same time? That makes my head hurt. First you have to know what communism is all about; then you have to know what Naziism is all about, and then you have to realize that "socialism" is not another word for communist. At least I'm old enough to know that Joseph McCarthy, the communist hunter, was not good, and hence we got very close to being a police state in the 1950s. This after we fought a war that saved the Jews from extinction, and after we invited Joseph Stalin into the peace process, to carve up Germany, this after we carved up parts of the Middle East and helped birth the state of Israel. This after we carved up Korea, this after we installed dictators in several countries.

We're seeing a return to the divisiveness that allowed Joseph McCarthy to ruin the lives and careers of hundreds if not thousands of people. We're beginning to see "socialists" under every bush, around every corner.

What I don't like and am sad to see is not that there are conservatives and liberals, but that there are few thinking conservatives and few thinking liberals. We're carving up our own country into opposing camps. We leave no room for moderation, for compromise, for thinking. I don't know, maybe we've always been mean and nasty to those with whom we disagree. Maybe there have always been people who are willing to assassinate abortion doctors, who feel an overriding need to bash gays, who absolutely must go to the polls and vote away some group's constitutional rights.

Ah ah ah! You see me leaning to the "left," don't you? Then how about this: I believe that we should choose the victim over the criminal. But I also believe the punishment should fit the crime.

I believe that we should put the education of our children on the fast track, and that the budget for education should be bigger than the budget for war. I believe that all children should have the same quality of education, that getting an education should be our children's jobs.

I believe that we should pay as much attention to what happens to a child that is brought into this world, as we do to the issue of abortion. Nope, I'm not saying that abortion is a good thing. It's really awful. It says a great deal about a country that allows convenience abortions. But abortions should not be outlawed, sending women back to the coat-hanger, either. But look at what parents are doing to their newborns, their children, once they've been born. How easily can you stomach all the abuse that children suffer? Although the religious right has declared war on women who abort their fetuses, they pay mere lip service to the children that are born into poverty, born to single mothers, and pay hardly any attention to orphans. Oh, yes, there's the Christian Children's fund. But they advertise for donations for children in other countries. How much do they concentrate on America's children? Someone, please educate me on this issue.

Meanwhile...here comes spring, renewal, the burgeoning of sunlight and warmth.

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