I hope this doesn’t come out too preachy. It’s been on my mind for a while now.
Against my wishes, I hear a certain amount of the on-going political campaign, which may be summarized, as usual, thus: “It’s us against them, and this year they’re better financed than ever. We need your help to save the republic from ____ [fill in the blank depending on which party or ideology you identify with]. Do you want [demons du jour] running the country, making the laws, subverting the constitution? If not, you have to be with US!”
The lyrics vary from time to time, but not the tune.
Interestingly, people don’t much act like that in their real lives, only in the soap operas they are encouraged to confuse with reality. It’s all smoke and mirrors, and I’ll tell you why. Democrat v. Republican, Liberal v. Conservative – those are the familiar battle flags, but those are not the real divisions between the armies.
The real division is between Love and Fear. Love is known by its inclusiveness and – need it be said outright? – by its lack of fear. Fear is known by its exclusiveness and its lack of love.
How hard is that? Not hard at all, considered in a vacuum. But try applying it to the political scene and see how far it gets you.
In the Catholic school I was taught as a boy, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Political practice is very near the reverse. If you want to raise funds, you’d better have a good hate-target.
This is not life, but anti-life, and it isn’t even realistic. Who is innocent of the growth of the super-state that oppresses us?
Liberals? They’ve been advocating the state as ultimate solution forever.
Conservatives? When was the last time you heard a conservative denounce the voracious appetite of the military related industries and the war budget that do more to foster the super-sizing of the state than liberals could dream of.
The two parties don’t see things very differently, because how could they? To be elected requires money, and lots of it. The people who can provide the money get representatives who will be responsive to them. That isn’t muck-raking, just common sense. It is true that various groups with money differ; but where they are alike is that they want their own way and they have the money with which to try to purchase it. The result? Continuity in government aligned with those interests.
(The cold war, remember, that lasted from 1947 to 1989, was fought by Democrats and Republicans alike. Democratic presidents from 1947-53, 1961-69, 1977-81; Republican presidents from 1953-61, 1969-77, 1981-89. Democratic congresses, both houses, from 1949-1981, split congresses otherwise. The cold war may have been necessary, may have been somewhat trumped-up, may have been both – but in any case, both parties participated all the way through, regardless the current political mythology.)
In order to persuade people that their votes matter, it’s necessary to whip up issues that will persuade them to fear something. Hence, political campaigns.
I’m tired of fear and fear-mongering. The American people are becoming ever more paranoid under the pressure of all this continual appeal to fear and hatred.
As long as such appeals work, they will continue. So the only way to bring them to a halt, or at least to dampen their intensity, is to do what you can to see that they don’t work – and that can only start with you.
Give up hatred as a political or ideological stance.
“Just say no” to hatred.
The present maladministration brought me closer to hatred than I like to remember. It was a huge effort to pull myself back from that insanity. I haven’t slackened in my opposition to all the assaults on our freedoms, but neither do I think that all the blame goes on one set of shoulders. Love the sinners (and who said it would be easy?); hate the sin.
I don’t care to be a member of the Hatred party: That way lies death.
I ask you friends, to consider: Which commands your allegience, Love or Fear? Without changing one of your political or ideological convictions, you can move over, this moment, right now, from the party of Fear and Hatred to the party of Love. And you can encourage your friends to do likewise. You don’t have to cease to be Democrat or Republican, don’t have to cease to see things from the liberal or conservative point of view. All you need do is resist appeals to fear and hatred, whether they come from “your” side or “the other” side.
What more we can do than change ourselves, I cannot imagine, but we can do that, and I can’t see anything else we can do that is not pretense, or hypocrisy, or worse.