Friday, September 10, 2010

The Diatribe

Dear Friends,

This is my diatribe. This is my post that will spew out all of the things I have been dealing with for the past few weeks. I will admit-- I have loved the debates and the sparks that this past election season has stirred up. I find it exciting and a learning experience, as well as a chance to take part in something so great as our country's democratic system. I am amazed by the concept of voting, the idea that every single person, no matter their opinion, every single person who cares enough to say something is heard. Democrat, Republican, Independent, Socialist, Libertarian... everyone is heard. The minority shouts out to be heard, and the will of the people comes to pass.

However, in a debate as spirited as has just passed us (a debate that some of us have grown addicted to and seek to hold on to-- I'm looking at you, Sarah Palin), open-mindedness and generosity towards one another is absolutely of the most dire importance in order to preserve our unity.

I voted for Barack Obama, along with over 66,000,000 of my fellow Americans. I voted for him because I believe in a more "liberal" philosophy-- I believe that laws should be built on rights, and not morals (though the two frequently intersect), I believe in the right to free will (God given, that one is), I believe in the right to marriage between two consenting adults regardless of religious doctrine. I believe in human rights, in using our position as a "superpower" to step up and show everyone else that the time of corruption, oppression, environmental irresponsibility, and selfishness has come to an end-- that the world has grown far too globalized to think that so long as I have a home and food, then all is well.

I believe that we were all made to care for one another-- not that we should only tend to our own.

I believe that the Republican ticket this year grew to be one of the most divisive forces in American culture, citing Sarah Palin's "Real America" as a prime example. According to her, "Real America" is white, southern, suburban or rural, conservative, and "Christian." This is not the country that I am a part of. The country that I live in is diverse-- racially, ethnically, religiously. We live in apartments and ranch houses, mansions and farms. We are lawyers, business owners, factory workers, writers, IT workers, doctors, researchers, teachers, farmers, truck drivers, hedge fund managers, artists, mothers, fathers, foster parents, social workers, bus drivers, secretaries, managers, and the list goes on and on and on. We speak different languages, we eat different foods, we attend different churches, worship on different days of the week.

THIS is the country that I am so proud to be a part of-- a place that is full of color and spice and diversity. Not the hegemonic, non-existent Mayberry that is held up as the "Real" America.

I also just don't understand the religious appeal of the Republican platform. Yes, I understand the "right to life" and "traditional marriage" opinions, but perhaps I just can't agree with them. What right do we as Christians have to enforce our morality on anyone else? What right do we have to take away the "free will" that God has blessed us with, a will that we are free to use for both our own benefit and downfall? This is what I mean by laws being made in the name of rights, and not morality. Why are we not allowed to murder? Because it infringes upon another's right to life. Why are we not allowed to steal? Because it takes away from another's right to pursue happiness (ie, property). I will admit, when it comes to the abortion issue, this is a significant gray area, and I don't envy those who are left to the task of deciding the difference between what is a person and what isn't. But how, then, do we take away a woman's right to choose what she considers best for her own body and family? Or rather, how do we take away her right to safely make that decision? And never mind the fact that a "right to life" stance is only applicable to those in utero according to the Republican platform. It does not apply to those killed in needless wars or those in prisons.

But I do not want this point to devolve into something solely revolving around women's health issues (or "women's health issues" as McCain put it. Thank you very much, sir, for so clearly presenting your disdain for my body. Please note that while your "men's health issues," ie, your Viagra, is covered by many health insurance providers, those pertaining to my health issues, ie contraception, are not).

Though, while we are on the topic of health, let's talk about health care. And why I think that every American has a right to health care.

I currently don't have health insurance. I am also currently getting a cold. I also have a vascular condition, which I was born with, that severely impacts my well-being due to various factors, including and not limited to the weather and menstruation. Does this count as a pre-existing condition? And if so, why is my well-being, along with those suffering from dwarfism, cystic fibrosis, mental illness, and others with genetic or chronic diseases that they cannot control, worth less or counted as less important than anyone else's?

Rights cost money. Civil Rights cost money-- women's rights cost money. The right to safe food and medicine costs money-- Thank you to the FDA. The right to know that the products we purchase, like cars and toys, are safe costs money. The right to a free and mandatory education costs money. Of course a right to health care is going to cost money. But isn't it worth it so that children can get their vaccines, so that seniors don't have to skip doses of their medication, so that we can grow a nation that is healthy and fit and able to contribute to our economy and culture?

We have turned into a culture that hates spending-- unless it is on ourselves. The Bush Administration seems to have been the only presidential body in the history of this country who thinks that you can go to war (two of them, actually) without having to make any real sacrifice. Rather than call upon us to contribute to keeping ourselves safe from the likes of those who so grievously attacked us (attacks which happened not in "Real America"-- I bet Osama bin Laden is kicking himself over that one), sacrifices which I'm sure we would have been glad to make (until we lost interest), we were told to go shopping. Spend everything! Buy houses and televisions and cars and clothes that you can't afford, because otherwise, the terrorists win!

I suppose some will say that all of this is a result of reading the New York Times and watching CNN. What a horrible Christian I am, turning away from the conservative, religious right and their beacon of "hope," Fox News and Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly! Indeed, some have already insinuated that I must be "brain washed" by the "elitist, liberal media."

Here's a thought. The media, like any other industry, is employing more women and minorities than ever. These groups tend to vote and think with a more liberal slant, because a liberal philosophy is the one that actually gives a damn about the needs of women and minorities.

I'll admit-- the "brain washed" comment was made days ago, and I am still upset about it. Not only because it was implied that I, a college-educated, intelligent, independent woman, have no capacity for thinking for myself, but more so because as soon as I responded back with a deeper explanation of my views, the conversation was abruptly ended. I was "de-friended" on Facebook, which is something akin to a 21st century digital slap in the face.

I appreciate and respect conversation. I welcome debate. But to quote Janet Jackson, "If you tell me I'm wrong, then you'd better prove you're right." Not just run away from what challenges your preconceived and close-minded take on the world. To call someone "brainwashed" and to then have your strongest argument be that a situation presented is "messed up" without giving any further explanation as to why merely gives the impression that you are the one spouting off what you've been told, not thinking for yourself, and therefore becoming a pawn that those in power can play with and rile and mobilize at will. You have lost your God-given free will, traded in such a precious gift for blissful, ineffectual, and far too dangerous ignorance.

Why is it that we have lost the ability to disagree without attacking one another? The person who made the above comments has lost my respect, not because of his philosophy, but because of his childish response delivered as an unprovoked and personal attack on my own sensibilities-- and who then ran and hid instead of contributing to any sort of conversation.

We certainly are comfortable with blind attacks, aren't we? I bring up Facebook again, because it is such a potent and integral part of a young person's experience in this era. I came across a little "flair" button that read the following: "IT'S OKAY!!!! God put Obama in charge because he's the antichrist and we're all going to heaven soon!!!"

I say, as intellectually as possible, WTF?! Oh, and also, please get your head out of your ass.

What hurts me most is that we as Christians seem to have lost our way. One of my professors at school called Christians one of the most hateful groups in America, and I can't say I blame her for that. We are more likely to be associated with denying marriage and choice rights, with self-righteous piety and blatant discrimination than anything else.

The most important things Jesus told us to do were to Love God and Love One Another. Where have we lost sight of that? Where did loving God turn into viciously fighting our neighbors in his name? (And since when has God gotten so weak that he needs people as screwed up and as small as us to defend him?) When did loving each other mean furthering a legislative and cultural agenda that writes hate and discrimination into state constitutions? When did it become attacking those whom we disagree with?

I will never be ashamed of being "liberal": open to new behavior or opinions; favorable to or respectful of individual rights and freedoms; favoring maximum individual liberty in political and social reform (as per the OED).

To close, progress, intellectualism, cultural differences and national unity are good things. And so is Love.