Saturday, November 8, 2008

“Will Obama really mean the end of America”

As printed November 6, 2008
in the
Four Corners Free Press
Cortez, Colorado
(900 words)

It’s starting to look as though Barack Obama just might have won the election by the time this article gets to print. That would be a great triumph for progressive thinking people. Unfortunately, listening to my Republican friends, it would mean the end of America, if not the world for them.

They are convinced Obama: will take away their guns; turn our US government over to the United Nations; shut down our military & roll over for the enemy; open our national borders to all aliens; take all the money from the rich and give it to the lazy and the uninvited aliens; bring terrorist into the government; and worst of all turn America’s White House into the Colored House.

Why do these emotion ~ rather than fact ~ driven beliefs have such a deep hold? Subsurface racism probably has more to do with it than most care to admit. It’s only human. Our core tribal instincts remain in place no matter how small the world becomes. These tribal roots to our feeling/thinking aren’t such a bad thing ~ if we manage to retain some humility and humor about it. The poison comes in when our inner tribal instinct gets intoxicated with supremacist fervor.

Unfortunately, our country has been under the corrosive spell of that sort of fervor. Masterminded by Carl Rove and his Neocon compatriots the new Republican politics - which actually has nothing to do with true honorable conservatism - has sold too many Americans a false myth based on a self-centered presumption that God supports their own materialistic dreams above and beyond the shared dreams of all humanity.

They have attacked civil public discourse with such passion and success, that today millions of totally decent Americans believe that the only good progressive (or god-forbid liberal), is a dead one. And, they take themselves seriously! We hear Senator McCain screaming: “We will never give up against Obama: fight, fight, fight, fight!” If I had one question to ask McCain, it would have been: “Are your presidential dreams worth tearing our country apart?”

Look into history - it’s plain that though our Founding Fathers were all men of diverse passionately held and defensible beliefs. Each one knew they needed the knowledge and experiences of their ideological opponents. They allowed themselves the luxury of respecting their opponents and they appreciated that there was something to be learned from most everyone. They had the humility to understand that no one of them held absolute judgment. And, possessed the integrity to be able to alter perspectives when new information justified it.

To these American heros Free Speech wasn’t about talking. Free Speech was about dialoging. This form of speech requires an attuned receiver(s). The listener(s) suspend judgment long enough to absorb what is actually being said before returning to evaluation mode & judgment calls. The benefit is that it allows us to better understand why we should disagree - or, it might open up unexpected knowledge & potentials.

In dialogue once a speaker finishes, he/she reverts back to listening and thinking mode. It's an expression of respect... acknowledging our mutual humanity. Anything wrong with that? Why has that approach been demolished by the corporate media?

How can progressives (and god-forbid liberals), reach across to our right wing brothers & sisters, coworkers & acquaintances? How are we going to diffuse the right-wing rage that threatens to drag our country down an ugly slope of homegrown violence? Wouldn’t talking With each other, rather than At each other, be a good start?

What if the folks who think and worry about our world through the perspective of science and rationalism, actually tried to engage our right-wing brethren. A grass roots dialogue. To explain and listen. After all, it isn’t as though all sides don’t have many mistakes to account for ~ and much learning to do with an eye to the rapidly changing global reality our kids will be inheriting.

Our future isn’t all doom and gloom. Though, you can bet it will be extremely challenging ~ but challenges that can be met ~ if people commit to focusing on the actual problems. What spooks me is how many remain fully obsessed on their tribalism, while the truly important issues are ignored and festering. Why the willful ignorance?

Why the total commitment to a blind adherence to dogma considered “God given” - when in fact an examination of the history of religions clearly show that they are people made documents. Inspired by God, no doubt - but just as surely tainted by human power politics. As for morality and decency - it’s not owned by religions - it’s a humanity wide thing, when allowed to flourish.

If reading this Barack Obama is President-elect, it’ll be thanks to the efforts of a million citizen volunteers. I hope they realize this is just the first step - now the real struggle begins. That struggle being a quiet revolution of persuasion, one grass root at a time.

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