Ah Dad, wouldn’t life be perfect if I turned into the ideal Conservative? Being logical does not mean necessarily being Conservative — that’s offensive, so please stop suggesting it. Second, the above thoughts have much less to do with politics than you suggest. Besides, does EVERYTHING have to be about Liberals and Conservatives? I think that’s what is getting old.
No, I complain about this country because I’m torn between enjoying the bounty and hedonism of living in it, and the fact that I am educated about the rest of the world. I read about the world, obsessively. I interact with people from around the world, and I have experienced just a few corners of it, but it’s enough. Enough to see that there is so much suffering — yet I live here in a way that is so far beyond basic needs. Last night I read a few chapters of “What is the What,” and then I lay awake thinking about why I can sleep in my own bed in a heated house in a safe place when there are children being senslessly murdered in Africa. Sensless. Murder. Is this my responsibility? No. Of course not. But that does not change the fact that it is real, and I know about it.
“Appreciating what you have is so old…” I do appreciate what I have, but I am also ripped apart by it. Not appreciating would be to take it for granted, thoughtlessly spend money on things I don’t need, treating the things I have carelessly. But the best thing we have is information, the problem with that is that the constant media, the international society we live in, the instant reports we can read from anywhere in the world, the knowledge of atrocity and chaos and loss of life, well, that is simply difficult for me to handle.
I used to read these things mindlessly, but I think it’s wrong to live in a country that starts wars (I’m not bashing America here, this is true) and not take time to deeply consider their consequences, to try and envision how one would feel as an innocent resident of one of those enemy countries. All of this has a lot more to do with the remnants of my religious beliefs, far more than it does with politics.
Ten years spent as a devout follower of a man who sacrificed everything, cared nothing for politics, said things like “love your neighbor as yourself,” when you really think about what that means, not the surface interpretation that is most common, messes with your sense of being a patriotic, self-serving American. In fact, it pretty much voids any sense of being an American, or a nationalist of any country, for that matter. I mean, to God, what is America? Many people believe we are a blessed nation, as though God “blesses” America more than China, or the Sudan, or wherever — I think that’s a load of bull, and that’s not me being a liberal, that’s me being a person who believes in the things Jesus said. There is no evidence from Jesus’ mouth that any nation matters more than an individual’s life, liberty, justice.
For me, the combination of having a Christian sense of compassion, although admittedly un-acted upon, and both interest in and access to a whole lot of information about world affairs, leads to a troubling sense of guilt, moral dilemna. This is far larger than liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, it stems from a belief that the best thing in the world would be peace. And I want all my politics to reflect a decision to support peace as best I can. That’s complex, and impossible, but not illogical. I want to live my life in a way that reflects what I believe is good and true in the world. I think that’s perfectly logical, if not pragmatic.
The problem is how to live that way. That’s what keeps me up at night, and reading “What is the What” and then trying to sleep. I would suggest everyone read “What is the What.”