There was a short story by Ray Bradbury about a man who was a disgusting media whore, and in an attempt to get into the newspapers he goes and assassinates the animatronic Lincoln at the Hall of Presidents in Disneyland. The reporter assigned to the story meets the man, decides (as we, the readers do as well) that the man is disgusting, and then sentences him to the harshest judgment he could dish out. He refuses to write a story about him.
In the 24 hours since my admittedly hasty post on President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, I've heard a lot of the Republican screaming heads mocking the President's receiving of that award. And the catalyst to this post was one screamer in particular we just heard in a Youtube clip, who said something very close to something I said in my post. I was stunned. And I was ashamed.
I still agree with most of what I had to say. Did the President earn that award at that time for what they awarded it to him for? No, clearly not. The Nobel is for achievement, not for plans. BUT, a great honor was bestowed upon the leader of our nation and we probably should be rejoicing with those who rejoice. The leader of America received a great honor. We are Americans. This is a good thing for us and for our relationship with the world (although there's a part of me that thinks it's a bit like when the rich parents buy their daughter a new car and then tell her she needs to break up with her rotten boyfriend. There's a lot of expectation on Obama. I don't envy him his position and that's part of why I'm posting this. The man is in a very difficult position. It seems bad form to come off too harshly over possibly not yet deserved honors.)
As I said before, I like Obama quite a bit, but I'm not entirely sure he can do everything he claims he can. However, the opposition he's facing is overwhelming in every step he takes.
Our political dialogue in this country has taken a very dangerous turn. It is polarized. There are two parties (and several more if you're willing to go fringey). They are not meant to be enemies. They are meant to balance and, ideally, help one another. The whole concept of being of one party and so anyone in the other party is your enemy is dangerous and wickedly prideful. It is dangerous to the health of our country and the state of our souls. And it keeps some possibly very good things for all from happening (public option, people!) One ought never to put obstacles in someone's way and then make fun of them for not being able to get over those obstacles.
I had an experience as a life long Democrat many years ago after 9/11 when I mentioned to a group of my friends that I thought President Bush had handled the immediate aftermath (I'm talking after the event, but before the wars) very well. I thought his speeches were very dignified and compassionate. My friends were livid and threw a fit that I could possibly ever say anything nice about that war mongering so-and-so. And that's a problem. Not only can you not like something the other side does without being accused of being one of the enemy, but you also cannot criticize something on your own side without being accused of being one of the enemy.
I would add that mockery is a horrible low. There is never a proper time to mock. When you mock and hate a political figure, you mock and hate your fellow citizens who voted for that figure. We've become a nation of mockers. The television and the radio told us to do it.
Now, I don't feel like I've mocked or hated anyone on this blog. I'm not actually recanting of anything I've said specifically. It's more of a tone recantation. I think a good deal of the time when I go to post about something, I think "Is this good or bad enough to post on?" When really what I ought to be asking is "Is this good?" "Is this life affirming?" "Is this helpful?"
I don't think it's wrong to be critical over issues that are really important. Another part of the problem is that there is a whole industry of political entertainment made up of people who have to work up, or at the very least work up the appearance of, righteous indignation every day over something. I don't think there's something to be righteously indignant about every single day. I want to build up and not tear down.
I think, also, that one ought to be the change they want to see in the world. I love my country and I have deep respect for our President. One of the things I said on the post about the Nobel to Obama was, "I would like to believe that Obama is going to usher in the Golden Age of America. I truly hope he does. I truly hope he turns out to have been the greatest President in American history." I can stand behind that. I can stand behind the tone and the sentiment of that.
I don't want to be the guy who talks about what's wrong all of the time. Not that I thought I was, but first of all I could see that direction opening up, and second of all, considering the tone of the times and the days in which we live, I think I want to look toward the hopeful. I think I want to direct people to wonderful things - and save my battles for the important things. Like that New York Metropolitan Opera production of Tosca. Sheesh!