Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Us Versus Them: An Intellectual and Moral Logjam

Photograph by Lynda Lehmann

I'm on a steady diet of unwanted emails from some friends and family with an agenda.  The same people who "don't want to talk about it" feel entitled to bombard me with what I perceive to be biased misinformation.  In our legal system, we are sworn to uphold "the truth and nothing but the truth." But we have no such rules nor even a vague promise, to try to recognize and communicate truth in our everyday dealings. 

The truth is that there is no "truth," if we are talking in black and white.  The truth is always relative.  It's complex.  And it can't be communicated in sound bites.  Yet it's easily distorted.  

Politicians are masters of manipulating the truth by withholding, rather than revealing, information.  Every statement knowingly made out of context or without qualifiers is intended to subvert what clear and intelligible truth does exist.  It's hard enough to extrapolate shades of truth in a complex world, without direct distortions or intentional omission.

It's clear by the current climate of opposition in Congress and running in deepening veins throughout our society, that many people feel great anguish and anger.  A lot of them play the Blame Game with relish.  For them, blaming is an outlet for their rage and despair.  But blaming never gave birth to solutions.  

My personal answer to the blame laid on our current President's shoulders is to counter that I feel George Bush empowered the greedy corporate giants and set the precedent to legitimize greed. I have never registered with either party, as I don't believe in the arbitrary taking of sides, but rather in addressing particular issues as they arise. But believe me, what I can discern of the right-wing mentality is frightening and so inward-looking as to disavow any common humanity. Yes, we are born with equal status as human beings who are part of a larger human family.  And hopefully we are equal under the law. But the sad fact is that we are NOT created equal: some are born poor, into war or other forms of desolation; some are born with deformities or diseases; some do not have the best genetic inheritance. Do we embrace our differences and common humanity or do we dump those we perceive as disadvantaged in jails and slums? Do we work for a better society and world, or do we pull in our stakes so we can spend more time counting our personal spoils? Do we embrace or do we label and reject? Do we hate or do we love? Those who profess to be "religious" and moral people, ought to take a good hard look at their rhetoric and their actions.

How does a person define himself as "right-to-life" while voting to cut benefits to the sick and needy?  Or consider cutting Social Security benefits, into which most workers have dutifully paid?  How does one preach morality while teaching his kids to do "anything to get ahead?"  How do you send kids to die in wars that can't institute strong and stable democracies in tribal societies?  

Several people whom I know have expressed a favorable opinion of the Tea Party.  They espouse fiscal conservatism while they, personally, have accrued incredible amounts of credit card debt.  In my opinion, endorsing extreme fiscal policy is not only overcompensation for their own personal misjudgment and weakness, it's outright hypocrisy.  Just as railing against Social Security as a corrupt "entitlement" is absurd for those who willingly collect their own checks every month!

When Bill Clinton was in office, we were not in the red.  Our economy was strong.  When he proposed NAFTA, I was in favor of it because I believed that a global economy would favor the cause of peaceful coexistence among nations.  Now, looking at the job loss crisis in America, I'm not so sure.  But all the blame in the world will change nothing.  Only new IDEAS can change things.  

I believe President Obama is a good and authentic person of vision and high motivation--and that those who want to see him fall are simply acting out of their own insecurity; they don't want justice and they don't want progress. They simply want to protect their status quo/interests.

There!  I've said it.  I have expressed my feelings.  I am so tired of the propaganda being hurled by the right-wing sound machine.  When "factoids" are thrown into the air without any qualifiers or context, we move further and further from the truth as it gets buried deeper in the fray.  Society is complex, and modern life can be complicated.  But we make it more so by our tendency to be reactive and self-serving.  Please do not try to make "liberal" a dirty word by undercutting the facts and throwing epithets.  All that is simply subterfuge.

Society is in some degree of turmoil but still, we function and everyday heroes abound.  People who equate Obama with Hitler, or welfare (for those who truly need it) with Socialism, do themselves a disservice.  Is this the kind of world we want to be complicit in leaving to our children and grandchildren?

One potent thing each of us can do is to listen to our friends and neighbors when they talk.  Invite discussion.  Think critically and exchange points of view.  Do discourse, not "search and destroy."  

Democracy is not built on one act of voting every four years.  Seek the "truth," tell the truth (as you see it) and accept other folk's stories as being THEIR truths.  If you think this requires too much effort, ask yourself this, "What do I want to think of myself the day I discover I'm lying on my deathbed?"  What do you want your children to think?

To myself, to my friends, family, and blogging fellows I say:  Campaign for justice: practice acts of Conscience.  Practice communicating and practice listening.  And stir some empathy into your mind-soup.  You'll be a bigger, better person for it.  And so will I.


Photograph by Lynda Lehmann

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12 comments:

  1. Hi Lynda,

    Glad to see you back :D.

    You are right: truth on earth is relative (and you know how I think of this theme, since I have written about it - Four Seasons of Truth).

    Being born equal doesn't mean that we are equal; it rather means that we have access to the same opportunities (which is truer in America, than in some other countries).
    The problem in America are not the Right Wingers, but radical Right Wingers and backward Right Wingers who have not realised that the world has evolved and so must Conservative Politics.
    The same problem lies in the Left Wing: leftists do not change their way of thinking, speaking and doing things and the result is at sight (around the world).

    I come to think that the insensible (and often illogical) opposition to President Obama goes beyond politics. People do not have to agree with him and his policies, but the way they express that disagreement should make us think.

    There are abuses in the benefits programs and social security (which happens everywhere) but instead of crying for cuts perhaps one should cry for changes and increased control.
    I personally am against subsidies, because I think it promotes laziness (and I have pretty good examples of this, in my own country); however, there are poor & disabled people who do need assistance and there is where a socially democratic state should intervene (but always controlling).

    Wow, you really let it out of your chest, eh? Good for you, girl :D.

    Don't worry, everything will be fine; you'll see.

    Big hug and cheers

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  2. MAX - You are so right: I should have referred to "radical" or "extremist" right-wingers, been more specific with my complaint. For sure, not ALL right-wing folks behave in the ways I described.

    I'm very happy to see you, my friend, and always value your input. I do agree that in many instances, there is government CONTROL without accountability. Hence we have the APPEARANCE of law, order and control when in reality, not many people are doing their jobs; they are asleep at the helm--and we see the results of their irresponsibility.

    My love to you, dear Max. It's great to see you!

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  3. Yes, complicated. That's creating a challenge to come with solutions. The good thing in these times is that things cannot remain hidden any more ... we cannot avoid facing stuff any more, which brings any possible solution closer ...

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  4. ANNE - That's a good way to look at it. All our technology and the media saturation of events raises all of our consciousness. It's hard these days, to ignore the impact of conflicts and events around the world. The more awareness we have, the sooner we will be motivated to seriously work towards solutions.

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  5. Lynda,

    "You are so right: I should have referred to "radical" or "extremist" right-wingers, been more specific with my complaint. For sure, not ALL right-wing folks behave in the ways I described."

    You did well not to, because that way it sparks debate :).

    "I'm very happy to see you, my friend, and always value your input."

    Me too, darling! Likewise, certainly you know that.

    "I do agree that in many instances, there is government CONTROL without accountability. Hence we have the APPEARANCE of law, order and control when in reality, not many people are doing their jobs; they are asleep at the helm--and we see the results of their irresponsibility."

    True.

    Much love, Lynda and Peace!

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  6. MAX - Much love to you as well, and peace to all of us!

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  7. Lynda, you put your case clearly and cogently and it was a pleasure to read. I find your arguments thoughtful and your thoughts pleasing and full of reason. Would that many many millions more would take such an intelligent approach. Would that our elected officials could see as clearly as you do.

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  8. PacificMelody - If I could see clearly, I'd put down these glasses, lol!!!

    Seriously, I too, wish our elected officials could see clearly but they so often show a complete lack of vision (read: leadership).

    Where will we go from here?

    It's good to see you, Melody! Thank you for your kind words.

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  9. Lynda it is nice to see you blogging, or more so I am glad to see myself here on your blog. I have thought about you many times, and there was always something. May be it met to be so I came here to read this provoking post just in time. You are so right about the truth, and this is deep topic to talk about because I can go on and on. So on the end I believe in myself and I know what is true to me. The issue is that with being busy and getting older I forget, so I tend to distort my own truth, but not in a way that I distort the meaning.

    Lynda I have not given up photography, I still carry my cameras every where (sometimes I forget to charge them too, lol). I do blog but I am more involved in the town blog. We got too many monkeys running the town so sometimes I like to vent on them - just seems like there is no common sense. My theme is always displaying photos from the town.

    On the side note, I cannot believe how time flies. We starting to look for the school for Matthew. It is going to be lonely, because looks like the government implemented full time school for jk and sk this year. Sucks big time for me, because I love having Matthew around and by my side.

    Sorry for going off topic. Hope all is well with you, and glad to talk to you again. Hugs from us. Anna :)

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  10. ANNA - It's so good to see you blogging, too, and I miss our exchanges. But life takes over and we have both been busy with other things. It seems that life is changing very fast and it's hard to keep the balance, more so than ever.

    I even feel a nostalgia for the "old days" when the blogosphere felt more familiar and intimate than it does now. But so many have moved away from their blogs to Facebook or to real life concerns.

    Anyway, I have missed you. I know how you feel about Matthew leaving. It happens fast for all of us. But you have given him a firm foundation and he will always be your "little boy," in your heart.

    I guess the negative and greed-driven politics are endemic, and we all struggle with wanting to see society find rational solutions to at least SOME of our many problems. I'm sure you'll do a good jog with your new blog.

    And of course, you MUST continue taking photos!

    My love to you Anna, and hugs to Matthew too. I know he is out of his "baby shoes" and well on his way, with your love and nurturing behind him.

    Hope you and I will find each other more often in the months to come! xxxooo

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  11. Hi Lynda,
    Sweet serendipity to bump into your blog during my web wanderings... your views are refreshing and articulate. And your photography is gorgeous, I am off to peruse more of your works now. Thank you for suggesting that people think for themselves, instead of simply forwarding other people's internet-hype... we all have friends and family who do that, and I am hoping that I am careful and don't do that to my friends! :-)
    ttfn,
    Eduard

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  12. Drakonis - Thanks for your kind words and for visiting my blog. I'm glad my thoughts resonate with your own. Nice to meet you here on the Blogosphere!

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