Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This argument with my friend has been englightening. We went a few more rounds on politics - he wanted me to define an alternate view of mankind to the two proposed by D'Souza and I told him I thought that there was evil in people, but that people weren't necessarily evil or good by nature - they're human, so they're both. Doesn't mean there aren't rights and wrongs in the world, but that's just my worldview. Anyway, he exposed some of my own assumptions and in the end I felt like I learned a few things (I doubt he learned anything - he's as stubborn as I am and much more self-assured) and it was very nice to at least talk about it with someone willing to get in there and make the effort.
But it did make me wonder - was it really worth it to discuss? Deep down I say YES! Dialogue is always better! But I'm an idealist, and I'm sure most Americans would say I should've just left it alone. But I can't. I really do feel like a lot of the problems in the US are built around a lack of dialogue and thought. And yes, I realize that the vast majority of the population is too busy living life to think about things. But I don't think that's a good excuse. The information is there, and honestly the time is there - its just turning off the latest episode of "What's my tie?" and bothering to take the 5 minutes to do some research. Maybe its because we're not taught to ask questions as kids. Who knows. Anyway, I'm nothing if not persistent... even when it gets me nowhere.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

An Argument in Favor of Abolishing Certain Words Altogether

Frankly, friend, I cannot agree with what D'Souza is calling the difference between "liberals" and "conservatives". From what I can tell in the article, he is simply restating the buzzwords that society is using right now in defining (and widening) the split between the American people and the issues that really matter.

 “…liberalism has become the party of anti-Americanism, economic plunder, and immorality. By contrast, conservative policies are not only more likely to produce the good society, but they are also the best means to achieve liberal goals such as peace, tolerance, and social justice.”  I note here (and throughout the rest of the letter) a focus on division. He has created his own idea of a “liberal” person and in his reality, that is all there is – this straw man who exists in opposition to everything he believes.  Also, I note that I am behind in the times – liberalism is a party now. I had no idea!

Let us pretend, for a moment, that these two words do not exist to annoy the subconscious with vivid images of hippies and tie-wearers. That we are simply American people (though that in itself is a loaded word) trying to make life better for each person living here. What do our issues then become? Food, clothing, shelter for all - I should think these would be the issues of immediate importance. Health care would be a big one. The opportunity to work for a living. These are the life issues at the core of Christ’s message to “love God” and “Love your neighbor.”

I have met "conservatives" and "liberals' who have these values at their core, who make positive decisions for the good of others every day. I am offended by the sweeping generalizations this man makes - for what purpose? How does the statement that "Conservatives know better" help anyone in this world live their life more happily, or even make better decisions at the polls? As far as I can tell, Zach, he seems to be feeding off a large, dead, smelly carcass of assumptions, none of which will make him, or anyone else, a better human being. Note his focus on the "decline" of liberalism - all his statements are against this image which he himself has built up in very prettily worded sentences that don’t end up saying much in the end. I don't hear him make one positive statement throughout the whole narrative which convinces me in any way that he has issues that matter in his heart. I am offended not only for the people he pegs “liberals”, but the “conservatives” too. Does "conservative" automatically mean you support capitalism? Do I need to drive an SUV now if I want to consider myself a conservative? If I think socialized medicine is a good idea but I’m not sure about abortion, do I have to register as a “durn fence-straddler”?

I’m not actually trying to rile anyone up (though I am a bit riled myself) – I’m just trying to show how ridiculous I think it is to focus so much on the difference between two words that ultimately do no one any good. If we really want to make a difference in our country, we obviously have to cast a vote for someone – but it doesn’t have to be about their label on some randomly defined spectrum. If a person’s decisions reflect a desire to benefit humanity, to show love and caring to the poor, sick, hungry, and broken of the world, THAT is who I want to plant my flag under. Sometimes that person will be labeled a conservative, and sometimes that person will be labeled a liberal. But these labels have never, and will never mean as much as the things that really value – the things that do not have anything to do with my “leftness” or “rightness”, but who I show the love of Christ, and how I spend my time. 

So to make this a Christian issue, I think it is our moral imperative as Christians to fight the divisions in society that make it more difficult to fulfill Christ’s desire for the world.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, naked, and you gave me clothing, in prison, and you visited me.” These are the words that Christ uses in his story telling how he plans to judge people. That seems to tell me it’s pretty darn important, and I know you agree. Christ’s life points to a life of uncompromising love – and that definitely didn’t get him much respect from society at the time. “This man associates with sinners”, “This man talks to tax collectors!” Here is a man who offended across the political spectrum with his radical love – neither right nor left, but love.

 I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I think there is a middle ground, and that it is crucial that we strive to be mediators for the good of all. And that means that we may all fall under different labels when society looks at us. But the importance for you and me as Christians is that no matter how society sees us politically, they cannot escape seeing that Christ’s love is glorified in our lives.


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Hoo boy.

So i've been privileged (in the sense that I get to hear a LOT of VERY different perspectives) to have friends from all ends of the political spectrum. Some I agree with. Some I don't. Some I grit my teeth and smile at because in the end it does no good. Buuut.... today I got a little angry. A very dear friend of mine posted in a note on facebook that he had read the following letter and "generally agreed" with the following open letter by Dinesh D'Sousa:


Now I don't know much about this Dinesh guy. But I found him offensive (though admittedly well written (grammatically and stylistically only, i swear)). Perhaps I got even more offended because this type of political-speak has really gotten on my nerves lately. Here is my response. Warning - some Christian-related language will follow, as both he and I are of the same faith, and my main audience is him. Let me know what you think, fellow angry people! Well crap i'm going to have to retype all this. I'll post it all later.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

It's strange to feel like an automaton all day - as though each action makes me a cog in this groaning, creaking machine of a university - an old machine, with outdated parts and bits, but one that continues to crank on nonetheless, molding and mangling the creatures that run through it like small herds of merino sheep - quality wool but sheep all the same. Its like walking through a dream all day - that detachment you sometimes get in dreams. Its a waking plodding that makes me feel like a cow chewing its cud. I'm pretty sure that a job one enjoys doesn't feel like this - doesn't dull the senses or stifle the mind - but I wonder how many people are out there, screaming in silent rebellion. I'm pretty sure that's a quote from something, but I'll claim that I'm stifled from work to keep from entering the five keystrokes it would take to look it up. I guess you have to be careful with this kind of feeling - it'd be an awfully convenient excuse to sidle out of life and into a delirious rotation of work, tv, and food.