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.