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The Day I Learned I Was A Moderate

I really had no intention of commenting on the recent tragic shooting in Arizona, because, quite frankly, all the anger surrounding political discussions in our country has me burnt out. I no longer care to engage anyone in discussions about politics, because in general, I think everyone is wrong. I blame everyone, from partisan politicians on both sides, to journalists and pundits that encourage the dissension because it keeps them in business, to the American people, who are so frustrated with the lack of answers that they’ve taken to the same hatred, name-calling, and blaming of people on “the other side” that once made ideas like the KKK and McCarthy hearings so popular.

There is no “other side”. There are different ways of looking at the world, but that’s healthy. The divisive way in which Americans are approaching the political system, the “us against them” mentality that was largely brought about by the media, and the existence of programs specifically designed to stir up hate and anger against “them”—well, none of this is healthy. We’re all on the same side. We may not agree, but that’s what compromise is for. The guy you so adamantly disagree with who exemplifies the basic philosophy of “them”, he may be way off base in his thinking about what’s wrong with our country, and how to fix our society. Then again, so might you be. But when you discuss ideas in a reasonable and mature way, you often learn you have more common ground than expected, and you share many of the same goals. This builds a foundation for discourse and compromise, ideas that have played a huge role in making our country a successful one, one that promotes personal freedom, democracy, equality, and prosperity.

Economically, socially, and in terms of what I perceive as the world I’d most like to be a part of, I’m the most liberal person out there. According to a recent political compass quiz I took, I’m slightly to the left of folks like the Dalai Lama and Gandhi. However, when it comes to how I view politics, and the role of the political system in a democratic country, I’m the most moderate voice I’ve heard in a long time…well, at least since the Rally To Restore Sanity.

It is OK to disagree with ideas that don’t align with yours. But, before you disagree, you must understand where the other person is coming from, discuss the idea intelligently, and debate the pros and cons of it. Simply shutting the idea out and calling the other person a Nazi, a Socialist, Ma-Obama, or Hitler doesn’t accomplish anything. Hate is always born out of anger, and usually stems from a combination of frustration, ignorance, and the need to blame someone. It’s convenient when your problems are because of the Jews, the blacks, the Muslims, the Communists, the President, the political party you don’t agree with and everyone that follows them. But the true answers to life’s problems are never the convenient ones, and hate is just a smoke screen that obscures both the real issues, and the possibility for solution.

When can we get back to rational, intelligent discourse about the problems we face, and the potential solutions? When can we stop making it about journalists, TV networks, and pundits on both sides, or politicians that are more interested in becoming celebrities and stirring up emotions, meant to detract from a more solution-oriented way of thinking? I think it can only happen when the American people decide they’re too intelligent to hate, and not naive enough to be distracted by the outside noise of the media, popular culture, and the undercurrent of anger and frustration running through our country.

Here’s what I posted on Facebook today, which kind of sums up my view on the whole deal:

“People don’t shoot people because they are conservative, liberal, or anarchist. They don’t shoot people because of irresponsible politicians who publish maps with target markings, or inflammatory pundits and journalists who see a tragedy as a way to boost ratings, or even because they were tired of hearing America blame one another for everything that sucks. Sometimes, people shoot other people just because they are unhappy, crazy, or disturbed. All the arguing, name-calling, accusations, and viciousness I see on FB regarding discussions of the AZ shooting and politics make me all of those thin…gs. (though I’m not going to shoot anyone because of it.) This is why so many Americans are apathetic and don’t want to participate in the political system. Call me when it’s time to stop blaming and name-calling, and time to actually start doing something to make the world a better place to be. ”

Something’s wrong with a world where I, one of the most overly emotional, impulsive people around, stand for the voice of reason. ;)

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