Monday, September 14, 2009

My Better Angels

I'm struggling to listen to my better angels.

Listening as I foolishly do on Sunday mornings to the talking heads spout inane foolishness, I get cranky. Reading Huffington Post and articles in my email about people who spread lies about President Obama wanting to euthanize Grandma, people who rage in fear of socialism and Muslim take-overs, people carrying pictures of Hitler, my head starts to spin. I want to scream. I hear and read the hate and ugliness and flat-out lies that Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh spew with such malicious glee, and I feel hurt and anger. Hurt that there is such ugliness in the world, anger that people make a lavish living telling lies and frightening the ignorant and gullible. I get incensed by it all.

Yesterday morning - I'm not sure quite what sparked it - I took a step back and thought maybe I should find a way to practice what I preach, which is that love has more power than hate. But how do I find a place of love for someone like Dick Cheney, a man who proudly asserts that torture is not only justifiable but righteous behavior. From my perspective this makes him the same as the people he hates so much. They too believe that anything they do can be justified because they think their cause is righteous. When is it ever righteous to torture people? When is it ever righteous to imprison people because they might be guilty of something? Not because the are guilty, but because we think they could be. (And what's with our absurd fear of these people as some sort of super human monsters who can't be held by our prisons? When did we become such ninnies? Levenworth couldn't hold a maybe or actual terrorist? What will he do burn through the walls with his x-ray vision? If he could do that, wouldn't he have escaped already?)

But back to what I wanted to talk about. If I were to live my values, I'd find a place of compassion for the Cheneys, Becks, Limbaughs and Bushes of this world, for the insurance executives who think their $53 million salaries are a fair trade for the health and well-being of human lives. I'd find a place of compassion for Sarah Palin & Chuck Grassley and others who have been spreading nonsense about death panels for the elderly, about socialist take-overs. I can almost feel sorry for Cheney, who is in some ways the most evil of them, because I think he may be truly fear driven. Sarah Palin may be a mix of crazy and stupid. I don't know about Limbaugh. I think he's just a mean, hate-filled person. But how sad is that when you get right down to it. How sad is it to spend your life spewing hate about other people, living to diminish them?

I really want to find that place in myself where I stop being so reactive to them, in part because I think it's a better way to be, but also because I think my reactivity gives them power. If I could smile and shake my head lovingly at their unfortunate ignorance and lack of information, if I could pray for them - not to fix them - just for their well being, I wonder if it wouldn't have more power than all the polarizing anger I feel at the mere mention of their names. I always say that we become the thing we hate and there's truth in that even here, or maybe especially here. What if instead of meeting Ann Coulter's inane venom with anger and irritation, I met it with laughter and tender pity for someone so filled with pain that all she can do is try to demean others? When I hate Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and others like them, aren't I becoming just like them?

I do wish we had a better, more discriminating media. I think all our pundits, left and right could happily be retired to a farm somewhere where they can yell nonsense and evasion at each other all day long. Those on the left are as bad in their way as the right. I saw a conversation yesterday where the question was raised that when President Obama said in his speech that unnamed people saying there were death panels were telling lies, wasn't that the same as Joe Wilson calling him a liar? Wasn't he calling Gassley and Palin liars? The democratic pundit kept evading the question which was intended, of course, to be a trap. The answer is pretty simple, though. The president said that unnamed people had told lies. He didn't name names and he allowed us to infer for ourselves that they were liars. What really got me, though, was the questioner then asked, "Is Sarah Palin a liar?" The pundit refused to respond, although Sarah Palin clearly IS a liar. She herself at one time supported similar legislation, so she clearly knows that end of life planning is not euthanasia preparation. There are two possibilities. She's either being intentionally dishonest or she's ignorant. That's the answer to the question. Why not say it? Democrats are so pathetically politically correct that they are ultimately politically incorrect. An honest answer isn't the same as hate speech. Calling out untruth in a speech is not the same as yelling "You lie," at the President of our nation.

But again, I wonder why we give this moron so much press time? He's a rude jerk. He embarrassed himself and his party and if we had left it at that he wouldn't be getting all the undeserved attention he's getting now. We've made a hero out of a nobody because of our reaction. Energy flows where attention goes. We give power to what we pay attention to. Time to start ignoring the Wilsons and the Coulters. Let them spew nonsense. Reply to their lies and foolishness when necessary, but without the hysteria about it that we are prone to.

What passes for news (on most stations including CNN) in this country is glorified gossip. Nonsense like death panel stuff gets repeated and countered by partisans, but not explored with any depth. The true issues of health care aren't being discussed, the true economic ramifications of doing nothing aren't being explored, the true potential for savings in the long run aren't being studied. We just have polarized rants by and large (with moments of depth) on CNN, pretty good coverage on PBS, god-knows-what on Fox and... dribble on the mainline channels.

I've rambled off track again, haven't I?

I don't know how to shift my own polarization, but I want to try. I want to meet hate with peace if not love. I don't know if I can, but I'm going to try to check my instinct for reactivity with something else. I think our President knows how to do this. He seems to let the ugliness bounce off him without rancor. I admire that.


On other fronts, the contractor is running late. Plumber is here to install the sink but the faucet hasn't arrived so he's doing loud drilly things to the back of my house which is making me very nervous. As for the sink, it seems to be very tall, like it's made for giants. This has me a bit freaked out. The plumber suggested that that may be because it's ADA compliant but that doesn't make sense to me. Even if you wanted to get a wheelchair under it, a sitting person would have to be able to USE it. Hopefully when Fred gets here everything will make sense. Meanwhile, I'm anxious about what's going on. Sigh.

I took some pictures of the shower the other night but lost them somehow and I think I'll just wait until it's all done and post pictures then. Hopefully later today. We'll see.

That's it for now. Not going to reread what I wrote. Hope it makes sense.


SouthLakesMom said...

Raven, negative stress is bad for your body and soul. When the people on the radio and TV make you crazy you can choose to a) laugh at them/pray for them (as you so wisely deduced) or b) just turn it off. Just as much as those you dislike count on liberal reactions, so the media and liberal reactors count on you as well. IT MAKES MONEY! So, just turn it off.

My mama taught me a long time ago that when someone is driving me crazy I should "nice 'em to death.' It drives them crazy and gives you back your power over the situation. Since you can't personally nice these people you're upset with, praying for them will, as you said, take away their power over you!

Unfortunately, mama also said that prayin' for bad things to happen to them don't count!

Raven said...

SouthLakesMom - It's really true. I've been making a conscious effort to watch less news and my disposition has improved considerably.

You're mamma was right on both counts. I never pray for harm to anyone, even Cheney. I would like to see that man go to jail, but I don't know if that's wishing him harm or just wishing him justice.

Carletta said...

Raven, I hardly ever watch the news. John Stewart keeps me a little up-to-date on things transpiring :) and I check out some headlines on the MSN page when I'm on the computer. That's it. I watch the birds, the turkey, and the deer and I'm trying to find only peace in these autumn days of my life.

Janie B said...

Too true, too true! You always tell is clearly and succinctly. But don't let it eat you alive. I've been watching less news lately for that very reason. I get so frustrated.

CJ said...

You and I think so much alike.
I have pretty-much turned off the news. Last year, I was listening to Air America via computer a lot. But about a month before the election I suddenly couldn't stand it anymore, not because of the opinions of the hosts, but because they were telling me all the mean, cruel things the opposition was saying and it was driving me nuts.

I, too have a difficult time being charitable toward the likes of Cheney. (Jesse Ventura suggested giving him a waterboard, Cheney, and one hour, and he'd have Dick confessing to the Sharon Tate murders.)

What gets me is that most of the people who are so nasty profess to belong to a religion that preaches "love thine enemy." What hypodrites.

Do you remember Lee Atwater, the man who developed the nasty Willie Horton ads for Bush #1 and cost Michael Dukakis the election? A month before he died in 1991 he said:

"My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The '80s were about acquiring — acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn't I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn't I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don't know who will lead us through the '90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul."

I wonder what Atwater would have to say about the past two decades?