“Can we make legislation with enough teeth in them for conservatives and compassion for liberals?”
I heard the above phrase, or at least something close to it, from a news commentator recently. I wish I could cite the source but I really don’t remember who it was. But the phrase struck me as maybe a primary difference between these two groups.
Conservatives seem to be much more concerned about “law and order” than about being altruistic. They want to make sure that no one gets anything that they haven’t worked for or at least earned in one way or another. Liberals on the other hand are willing to give people the benefit of doubt and just don’t assume that everyone needing help is just gaming the system.
Nothing makes a man broad-minded like adversity - Will Rogers
I can certainly understand this quote from Will. The adversity in my life, although coming more frequently than I would like, has certainly made me more broad-minded. Coming from humble beginning has made me sensitive to the daily plight of the homeless and financially challenged around me. Going deaf in mid-life has made me more aware of the challenges others face with handicaps every day. Being asked to leave a church because I didn’t have the “right” beliefs has made me aware of all those who are gun-shy about anything spiritual. More…
Is the Republican Party insuring its own demise by it continuing to focus on a narrower and narrower core group. I want to believe this is the case as the alternative is that we as a country are now dominated by exclusion. Being against things, particularly different groups of people, is what has been driving the Republican primaries lately. It has pushed their final candidate over to the extreme right of the political spectrum. Can the Republicans maintain a party that far off the center of American Politics?
It seems like everyday the Republican party members alienate yet another group of voters.
- They are for rounding up all the people in this country without the proper papers and shipping them out of the country. They seem to have no compassion for those who are just trying to provide for their families. This is alienating most Spanish-speaking voters.
- They are against birth control. This is alienating many women voters.
- They are against continuing to fund Medicare. They want to turn it over to the private insurance companies. This is alienating many senior citizen voters (and they are the most active voters around)
- They are against providing medical care via Medicaid to the poorest of the poor. Even though this group is not a strong voting block there are those who do vote and have compassion for this group.
- They are against religious diversity. They say this is a “Christian” nation. By this they are alienating Muslims, Hindi, Buddhists, and other non-Christian religious groups.
- They are against Social Security. They want to make each person entirely on their own during their senior years. This is a double whammy for us seniors.
The Republicans seem to be against so much and for so little how can they maintain a Republican base? It seems that one of the only groups they are not alienating are white evangelical Christians , particularly those ironically who lack compassion for their fellow-man. Someday this group might even take to heart the commands of Jesus, their founder, and at least some a minimal amount of compassion for the “least of these”.
Another group who they are not presently alienating are those that see governments only role in society is to provide for our war machine. Everything else to this particular group is deemed unconstitutional. We have a female who is running for congress in my district who proudly announces that she is home schooled on the constitution. She basically says after her self study she has determined that the federal government’s only role is to provide for defense. Everything else, according to her, is unconstitutional!
The last and maybe the biggest group of supporters to the current Republican party are those that just want the government out of their pocket books. Today they are known as the “Tea Party” but have had many other names through the years. They don’t see ”providing for the general welfare”, as a necessary role for their government to be involved in. They seem to care little about anyone but themselves.
Where will future Republicans come from? If they end up having no core support can they even exist?
Let me bring up the same Lincoln quote that I used yesterday but this time for another purpose:
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
I can say that more often than not this quote is applicable to people especially politicians. But one case where it is not true is with President Obama. When he was campaigning in 2008 his speeches gave me such a reason for hope that I regularly supported him in seeking the presidency. When he opened his mouth he inspired me. I dreamed that he would be a strong and forceful president who shared many of my ideals. Unfortunately his actions have not began to live up to his words.
Yes, he did get a fragment of his universal healthcare through congress but what passed is so watered down it hardly resembles anything but a mandate to buy private insurance. For that reason I will not be surprised if it is eventually deemed unconstitutional by our radical right Supreme Court. President Obama is just long on words but seemingly short on action. He did start out drawing some compassionate lines in the sand but he then very quickly rubbed out that line backed up several steps and drew another line. This process repeated itself until his opponents eventually get what they wanted. Yes, I understand that the almost totally vitriol atmosphere in Washington these days stymied his attempts but I would like to have seen him not cave in under the pressure so much. Sometimes it is better to take a stand and lose rather than give up your principles. Maybe I am being unduly harsh of the president but that is only because I expected so much from him that I hold him to a higher standard.
These experiences have almost totally turned me off to politics. I no longer even watch the daily news. I am now a believer in the old saying “No news is good news”. I just want to live the remainder of my life with as little politics as possible. I will likely give a tepid support for our president in the next election but that is mainly because whoever will be running against him will likely be the opposite of what I would want in the leader of the free world. I want a president who is compassionate and actually acts on that compassion by doing whatever it takes. Too bad the Obama of 2008 can’t run against the Obama of 2011.
The only thing I could get enthusiastic about in the political arena is if we as a people can send a very clear message, I mean a crystal clear one, that we are utterly tired of what they have been doing the last few years. It seems the only way we can get that message across is to vote ALL of the current crop of politicians out of office. Anything short of that would probably not get their attention. But, since we are so divided as a citizenry, maybe this is a chicken/egg type thing, I doubt we could ever come together with even that message.
But what do I know…
This is going to be one of my “deep” posts so hang in there. You won’t find much humor in it but hopefully you will find something to think about.
What does it take for a person to become compassionate? It seems that due to the hard economic times we have been in for the last ten years or more that we are becoming a nation of primarily looking out for ourselves. I am just a simple guy but I can understand some of this.
Many times a person who had a stable middle class job is now struggling with two minimum wage jobs. They see the worlds looking backwards instead of forward. For them the best is NOT yet to come. They are extremely bitter, and who can blame them. They don’t see that they will ever have it as well as they once did. That bitterness bleeds off any compassion they might have had.
But even for those who have managed to cling to that middle class job they have not seen any real raise in almost twenty year. At the same time they see the CEO of their company have his salary doubled on a regular basis by shipping jobs out of the country. They see those around them getting laid off and they who remain must pick up the work of those let go. They see their turn to lose their job just around the corner.
Who can have compassion at time like these? But even those who have stories similar to the above must realize that there are those who have it much worse than they do. There are those who, for one reason or another, have trouble even putting food on their families’ table. Some of this may be due to the fact that they are drowning in medical bills. Some may be because the primary bread-winner died unexpectedly. Whatever the reason they are struggling at a much more basic level than even those who have lost their middle class status in society.
Compassion is sometimes a very hard to maintain a hold on. It is easy to fall into the self-pity mode where you concentrate only on your personal problems or conditions. But one of the main things that separate human from all the other species is our ability to have compassion; that is to think outside of ourselves.
So, in some way being compassionate is complicated like brain surgery. Man’s sinful nature wants to go in another direction than what compassion dictates. Most of the world’s religions, including obviously Christianity, has as one of its foundation loving your neighbor. Even outside of religion it has a name. It is called the golden rule.
This is the final post on looking for the U.S. number one export. Maybe I am just an idealistic dreamer but I am hoping that this one is our actual number one export.
Is there a commodity that the U.S. exports much more of than any other country?
Could our number one export be Compassion?
We are by far the most affluent nation on earth. Maybe a big part of that is our borrowing power but that is another post. I don’t know exactly where we stand as far as our supporting emergency relief efforts around the world but I hope we are close to the top.
- Compassion, at least by some of us,during others times of emergency is indeed noble. Whenever there is an earthquake almost anywhere in the world there are American teams there with their dogs to help find the people trapped in the collapsed building.
- And then there is the shipments of grain to starving countries. To watch those massive ships being loaded with thousands of bags of food makes me proud.
- Although “Doctors without Borders” was originated in France in the 1970s, today it has a very strong U.S. presence. Here is what Wiki says about it
In 2007 over 26,000, mostly local, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, logistical experts, water and sanitation engineers and administrators provided medical aid in over 60 countries. Private donors provide about 80% of the organization’s funding, while governmental and corporate donations provide the rest, giving MSF an annual budget of approximately US$400 million.
Yes, I realize that the above could be accomplished by less than one percent of the country’s population but sometimes just a small percentage can affect how a much larger population is viewed. As an example of that just look at how Bin Ladin caused all Muslims to be viewed in a negative light by many.
There are those around today who insist that in order to meet our budgets these types of government-funded things must be eliminated, or at least severely curtailed. I hope that doesn’t happen. There are a lot of other areas that should be the focus of attention for budget cuts.
So, here I am the naive person that I am hoping, or maybe just dreaming, that much of the rest of the world view our number one export our compassion for others.
But what do I know.
I have been trying to study up on this new political group who call themselves the Tea Party. They seem to be against almost everything. But one thing they are obviously not against is “Me”. They talk about themselves an awfully lot. Almost every sentence that comes out of their mouths seems to start with “I want” or “I demand” or “my money”. They seem to be a very self-centered group. Maybe they are trying to put a new definition in the dictionary for the word narcissism. More…
OK, first let me start out by completing the title message. Personal adversity makes us stronger or breaks us. As I mentioned a few posts ago I went deaf about twenty years ago and have consequently faced my share of adversity since then. In the coming months I will share specific stories about this but I want to keep it on a higher level for this post. When Helen Keller, who was both deaf and blind at a very early age, was asked what she would choose if she could get one of her senses restored. She without hesitation said it would be her hearing as being deaf keeps you separated from people and being blind only separates you from things. I certainly can understand her logic but I am not sure I would make the same choice.
Being deaf does definitely separate me from people and that makes me sometimes very lonely indeed. I often say that I am the loneliest when I am in a room full of people. At least sometimes when I am in a one-on-one situation with a hearing person they will go out of their way to communicate via notes or whatever works best. But once another hearing person comes into the room I most often become invisible as it is just easier for them to talk to each other than to me. I have come to accept this situation, even among my friends. That is just the way it is for most people. I thank heavens for the internet and email as that does level the playing field at least some of the time.
Ok, let’s get back to the theme of this post. If a person goes through life with little or no adversity they certainly take for granted what they have. When you lose something you then tend to realize just how important it was to you. Adversity also causes humility and to me that is one of the most important human traits. The other is compassion. That is where the second part of this post title comes in. Some people just can’t handle the adversity at that particular time in their lives and it breaks them. For some it means drugs or alcohol. for others it is deep depression or something else. We should all realize that “but there for the grace of God go I” and have compassion for those broken by their personal adversity.
Humility and compassion makes us the type of person that the Lord intends us to be.
And the journey goes on….