Monday, May 09, 2005

a few paragraphs on my political soapbox

It’s after 11p, we have over an hour till we arrive in Boston, then a short drive home. Jenn is crashed-out in the seat next to me, gathering strength for what will be a long day tomorrow. My thoughts are wandering and I'm not weary though the hour is late. Our visit with my sister was great. I got some spinning and much needed rest in, but training isn't what's on my mind right now...

Since 9/11 (and the onset of Bush's war on terror) I’ve spent much time contemplating the state of affairs in this country. Politically speaking, I consider myself an Independent, but that is an unrealistic affiliation in a two-party system... Our current administration's policies are so in reverse of my own (regarding the environment, pre-emptive warfare, religion in gov't, same-sex marriage, abortion, stem-cell research, continued borrowing from social security and the lobbying for private retirement accounts, rising health insurance costs and the lack of affordable health insurance for millions of americans, lack of focus or concern on global well-being, current tax-cut policies, and that is to name just a few), that I find myself aligned with the Democrats. Robert Shetterly helps sum-up some of my own feelings on our country's foreign policy in this passage he penned in 2003:

"The second strong feeling --- the first being horror --- I had on September 11 was hope, hope that the United States would use the shock of this tragedy to reassess our economic, environmental, and military strategies in relation to the other countries and peoples of the world. Many people hoped for the same thing --- not to validate terrorism, but to admit that the arrogance and appetite of the U.S., all of us, have created so much bad feeling in many parts of the world that terrorism is inevitable. I no longer feel hopeful. If one looks closely at U.S. foreign policy, the common denominator is energy, oil in particular. The world is running out of oil. Political leadership that had respect for the future of the Earth and a decent concern for the lives of American and non-American people would be leading us away from conflict toward conservation and economic justice, toward alternative energy, toward a plan for the survival of the world that benefits everyone. We see hegemony and greed thinly veiled behind patriotism and security. We get pre-emptive war instead of pre-emptive planning for a sustainable future. The greatness of our country is being tested and will be measured not by its military might but by its restraint, compassion, and wisdom. De Toqueville said, “America is great because it is good. When it ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.” A democracy, whose leaders and media do not try to tell the people the truth, is a democracy in name only. If the consent of voters is gained through fear and lies, America is neither good nor great. Nor is it America."

-Robert Shetterly

While this passage does not completely encompass my own stance and slightly exaggerates other aspects, I do agree with Shetterly’s opinion on energy and the ties it has to our foreign policy objectives. In addition, various news sources have been manipulated and man-handled to the point that we are not getting objective news coverage – it is subjective and sensationalized.

I have flown and driven across this country a couple-few times now. I've been to every major region at least once and encountered people of such a different mindset that it is hard to believe we share the same flag – yet that is what makes this country so great – our diversity – our ability to harness so many different peoples into one conducive whole. Yet, I also believe we have become too materialistic, too intent on out-doing our fathers and our neighbors. Happiness has ceased to be found in the heart and is too reliant on the wallet. Myself included. My guilt runs deep on many levels and I have only just begun to understand my repsonsibility to our fellow human beings. Someone recently asked me what I’d do if I discovered I had only a short time to live. It was an odd question, but someone in her family had recently passed-away quite suddenly. I replied that I’d like to travel – not for pleasure, but to see how the rest of the world lived, not in places that mimicked our own, but in the developing world – and to maybe, just maybe, offer aid and assistance where possible. So many souls suffer, while we bask in our trinkets and honor ourselves... only by seeing something can you be moved to action... as I am not moved to action on these fronts, but more so on domestic issues... and furthermore, if I could understand the whole of humanity by seeing it's many sides, maybe I could move into the next existance better prepared.

Traveling always gets me thinking - and gives me time to get some of those thoughts down on "paper." It's easy to sit here and write what's in my heart, the challenge is taking action on something other than ourselves. While it is unrealistic to "save the world," it isn't unrealistic to take small actions everyday which help us work towards a better future... that's all i expect of myself... and by tomorrow my thoughts will be focused on my job, my training and jennifer. All we can do is be conscientious while living the good life - as it sure is sweet.


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