Saturday, January 12, 2008


Why do we constantly marginalize each other?
Politics makes me physically ill. This, I'm sure, is a character flaw on my part, borne of a gentle spirit, schoolyard bullying, the harmony of the modern evangelical church, and the fact that I am even lactose tolerant. I like "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln", where he describes the factors that would rend us asunder, then rises to his feet as only a pneumatic doll could, and brings us all back together before we head back out into the sweltering heat of Main Street, USA. I hate politics, because the discussion begins, in one form or another, with a declarative statement that immediately alienates a portion of those in the room. These days, if you hold a basic set of philisophical/political beliefs, to declare them as such instantly labels you and hangs a whole meat locker of smelly, disgusting issues around your neck by default, whether you're invested in them or not. This odor, now emanating from everyone in the room - because each 'party' (what a ridiculous name!) has plenty of stink to go around - makes everyone unhappy. More to the point, it causes artificial, unnecessary assumptions - let's just call it what it is - prejudice - to cloud, overshadow, dilute, poison the topic at hand. There are those that are very close to me who, I know, assume my positions on several subjects. I also know that they are wrong. One of the things that I think that is as sacred - and necessary - as the First Amendment to the Constitution is the secret ballot, including the right to keep those choices to myself. It's the power of the powerless. No one has the right to know how I voted, unless I tell them. I'm also quite afraid that, if they knew how I really felt on certain topics, our friendship could very well be at risk - a very saddening prospect. There would be no convincing, as well as no acceptance. Very sad, indeed.
This post has been percolating for a day or so. I know now that I'm not alone. Two nights ago(seen by me last night thanks to the miracle of Digital Recording), John Stewart was pointing out to Lou Dobbs that Dobb's own poll showed that 94% of his viewers were sick of the idiotic reporting of campaign and campaigner's minutiae, rather than the facts and the issues. I got a forwarded email, this week, telling me that Senator Obama -- I want to pause, a moment, for emphasis -- Senator Obama, a duly elected member of the second-most elite group of elected officials in this country, which makes him a high-ranking member of one of the two most powerful political parties, subject to their scrutiny, approval, and support -- I get this email that tells me (and I'm paraphrasing some of it here) that Senator Obama won't say the Pledge of Allegiance, went to hezbollah school, and will have us all hiding our McRibs under our burkahs come February. The creation and dissemination of that type of vitriol marginalizes everyone; sender, subject, party, recipient, country - it even slows down the internet, for Pete's sake. This week, I'm told that Ms. Clinton wins a political primary because she shows some emotion. I haven't seen it, don't want to, don't need to. IT"S NOT IMPORTANT. It could actually be true that some people actually changed their vote over this, but I sincerely doubt that this contingent of Americans made the difference. The error is in affording it more importance than it deserves, and by doing so, removing the focus from what is important. I truly do not know why anyone would put themselves under so much pressure and scrutiny in the first place. I don't know why I'd be interested in Britney Spears locking herself in her bathroom, either, but that's just more of the same.My point is simply this: Whether you're angry with the poor sot behind the counter at McSubWenTacoFiesta, or passing through the mid-band of your cable channels with the talking heads of 'news channels', ask yourself, "Why must we 'marginalize' each other?"Can't trust the media; can't trust a photograph - remember 'pictures don't lie'? Can't trust a sound bite. We can't trust our processes, either, unless we're willing to take some personal responsibility for how we treat each other. I do know that there aren't many places where I can enter into a discussion of many issues, these days, without somebody's feelings getting severely hurt. This needs to change, if we're to move in any sort of positive direction. I'm just sick about it.