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Literature Your Columns Contest Politics and Other Karma

Politics and Other Karma Hot

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I am a hypocrite.  I've been aware of it for years, but I have suddenly recognized it from a different perspective than I ever saw it before.


As a Democrat, I've spent the last two years wondering how people could possibly say such horrid personal things against Barack Obama.  Political debate can be a healthy means of working out our differences and arriving at the best solutions for our country, but vicious attacks against a man's character -- as though he were the embodiment of evil, the anti-Christ himself -- is another matter altogether.  It should never be tolerated as part of the dialog of governing.  (And yet, it always has been.)


What makes it even more unfair is that those who use it have never even met the man, or spent time with him to learn who he really is or what he really believes.  They never had dinner at his house, or attended church with his family.  It's like writing a review of a movie that you never saw, but only heard about from somebody whose tastes may or may not be the same as yours.


Here is where I am a hypocrite.  From the day George W. Bush was perceived by Democrats to have stolen the Presidential election of 2000, I vented the most horrid personal insults against his character, in letters and emails.  My anger and fear that the wrong man was in office only got worse after 9/11, and I continued to level insults at him for eight long years.  Mr. Bush was not the only target of my calumny; I included Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld --- oh my God, Donald Rumsfeld!  Remember how much we hated his cavalier attitude toward the Iraq war?  (Maybe you don't remember….after all, it was four years ago when he finally resigned.  Who remembers back that far?  We're talking politics, here!)


Meanwhile, the truth was that I never met any of these men personally, nor spent time with them to learn who they really were or what they really believed.  I never had dinner at their houses, nor attended church with their families.  Yet I swallowed, without criticism, the reviews of them by other people whom I had also never met!


The thing is, of course, that I felt perfectly justified.  I believed completely that everything I said about them was nothing more than the simple truth, and that it was my God-given right as an American to express myself.  All my friends felt the same way.  We never even questioned it.  It's what we all do -- your side attacks my guys, my side attacks your guys.  It's the American Way. 


Only, you see, it’s okay when we do it, because we are right!  It’s not okay when you do it, because you don't possess the basic human qualities of fairness and compassion.  Your motives are suspect; ours are pure.


When the Bush daughters were interviewed on TV after their father's presidency was over, they spoke about how it hurt to hear their Dad spoken of in that way, because they knew him from a completely different point of view.  But my friends and I refused to even consider that there might be more to the man.  We thought his wife was a nice gal, but we couldn't understand what she might have seen in him.


We even saw a glimpse of humanity in Dick Cheney, of all people! (if only for a brief moment) when he came to the support of his lesbian daughter.  That took a little of the sting out of his accidentally shooting a friend in the face during a hunt, though it couldn't make us ignore his continual leveraging of his personal influence to keep his company Halliburton from having to adhere to any laws of conduct or disclosure.


More recently, in the same vein, we saw the softer side of Sarah Palin when she appeared in the audience of "Dancing with the Stars" to support her daughter, Bristol.  We're not going to vote for Sarah if she runs for office, but at least we now see her as a real human being -- not just a shrill caricature of a partially-informed political wannabe who couldn't complete a full term in a Mickey-Mouse governor's chair without giving up and resigning.


So, here I am -- asking with a straight face why the other side couldn't behave for two years toward my President, in a different way than I acted for eight years toward theirs!  What's the matter with me?  Am I not a Yoga teacher?  Don’t I understand the first thing about the workings of Karma? 


It would seem that I do not.  It would seem that I feel justified in laying all manner of blame against the other side, while refusing to allow the mirror to be held up to my own face.  I hear myself in the role of Homer Simpson, declaiming loudly, "No come-uppance!  No come-uppance!"


And this is why we find ourselves stuck where we are today.  When we say, "We must all come together and find common ground," we are really saying that your side must wake up and recognize the common ground that you have with us.  We're the reasonable ones; we're just waiting for you to acknowledge that.


The American Republican and Democratic parties are in the exact same stand-off as the Israelis and Palestinians.  Each side says that it would be willing to negotiate with the other -- if only the other would make the first sign of capitulation.  Don't hold your breath.


We need to realize that our judgments must start with us.  It's not the other guys who need to change, it's us! 


Gee, do you suppose that's what Gandhi meant when he said that we must be the change we want to see in the world?  That doesn't seem fair, does it?  Sounds like 'way too much work and sacrifice to me!  Maybe if we just wait a little longer, the other guys will get tired first.

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Politics and Other Karma

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Very interesting piece, great depth, and on target.

The Friendly Republican

"Mean Dean"
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Avatar Reviewed by Mean Dean
November 06, 2010
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