Thursday, November 3, 2011

In a past life I was a politician

Here's a bit of a jump from the ordinary blogging topics but I'll tie it in, I promise. Politics. I'm not going to go into the numerous topics of the day, don't worry. And you're probably thinking, who has time as a parent to keep up on anything? Good point. I'd say it's difficult, at best. Try listening to a radio show in the car with an almost-three-year-old. I can catch enough to know that the topic is interesting but miss most of the good points or facts. Not to mention that my brain seems to be able to hold onto said facts for an average of three days before they're muddled in the various other oddities floating around my mind. 

Okay. Still, I do believe it's important to be aware and to exercise our brains in this direction occasionally. If I had the right group of people to experiment with, I'd host regular gatherings called Dinner, Drinks and Debate. And by "right" group, I don't mean only people who hold the same opinions. I mean a group of people who are intelligent, paying attention and willing to openly and honestly discuss different aspects of a topic while not letting disagreements taint the relationships between us. As you can see, this group appears almost mythical in its description which is one reason why I haven't started it yet. That and the idea just came to me in the last few weeks.

I've been reading a book by Juan Williams entitled Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate. I would encourage everyone to get or borrow a copy and read it. Honestly, it doesn't matter what way you lean politically. The premise of it is that the true debate of issues that our country was founded on has been lost due, in large part, to the harsh media atmosphere and the constant election-state in which our representatives find themselves. So many people on both sides shout so viciously, loudly and dishonestly that nobody can even hear the quieter people trying to find compromise. When someone does say something helpful, if it's not to the advantage of his type-casted role as Democrat or Republican he gets ridiculed, beaten into submissing to his party or not even re-elected. What has happened through all this is we can no longer even talk about some of these very serious issues in our society. That is sad and could be devastating to us as a nation.

It's hard, I think, to feel like "we the people" matter much in the political world. I did a short stint in D.C. after college as a congressional intern and certainly lost some of my ambition to change things. Yet we all are the people. We are the majority. We do have power in that number. At this point, it probably will take some drastic actions. I have a lot of respect for the people out there who are taking steps to try and affect change. But we must pay attention, we must demand more because if we don't, nobody else is going to. There is no other country looking out for our civil liberties. Capitalism doesn't give a hoot whether you live or die or have freedoms or pensions or health care. It is up to us, the people. 

Let's start by talking. Talking to each other. Talking about hard issues. Talking without insults and hyperboles and fear. Let's stop being afraid that we might have a difference of opinion with someone else. Of course we will! That's one of the things that makes this world such an interesting and capable place. We can't let it be our downfall. I want to model for my child that you can disagree with someone and still love and respect that person. I want to model courage to put uncomfortable things on the table. I want to model having an open mind and seeing the grey areas of issues. These things make a difference. These things can change the world. 

So when people start talking, let's listen. We have more in common than we think.

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