Like many of you, I’m suffering from “election fatigue.” I know that elections are important and I don’t take democracy lightly, but I’m tired of being hit over the head with it on a daily basis. Social media has become a barrage of insults, Willy Wonka pictures, and endless political articles, almost always from websites with a known bias (either left or right), and today I reached my breaking point.
I was accused of hate this evening for pointing out that it’s easy to dedicate 28 years of your life to community service* when you are worth 250 million dollars. (I have to assume that if you post a political picture you are asking people to comment on it. If that’s not the case then why would you post it?) That’s not a dig on wealth, just an observation. I’m sure there are millions of Americans who would love to donate 28 years of their life to various political and social causes, but the majority of us can’t do that because even one month of unpaid volunteerism might result in the loss of job, house, food, children, etc.
Regardless of politics, Romney’s commitment to public service and his religion should be commended, but I don’t think his doing those things makes him some sort of super-man. “That’s the kind of man he is” in honesty he’s the kind of man who can do those things because he can afford those opportunities. I’m not convinced that being a venture capitalist is somehow better than being a teacher (though it obviously pays a lot more).
Pointing out the problem I had with the picture, even while adding “Romney’s record of public service is admirable, but it’s not fair to compare him to an average person” still resulted in someone saying that only the following could be “gleaned” from my observation: “Charity is not charitable if you can afford it. Wow, what a desperate grasp to try and deny the good someone does.” Of course I never said that. I never denied that he gave to charity, or that charity from the super-rich doesn’t somehow count as charity. It most certainly does, I have a lot of respect for groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and people like Warren Buffet who are using their vast sums of money to improve the lives of others.
Rich people often do great things with their money. None of those groups are perfect of course, and I’m sure someone is going to pile on to my rotten evening by pointing out that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation did something many of us would disagree with in the name of charity . I accept that no person or group will ever be perfect. There has only ever been one perfect person, and Jim Morrison has been dead for several decades now.**
While there’s a definite progressive streak running through Modern Paganism we aren’t a political monolith. I know a few Republican Pagans, even more Libertarian minded Pagans, and also some Green Party-type Pagans who have forsaken the two party system (I like them, they keep me honest), but the majority of us are probably Democrats, or at least will suck it up and vote that way. I’m one of those “suck it up and vote that way” types. I would prefer not to be a Democrat. I often find myself agreeing with Libertarians about a whole host of issues, and European-Style Socialists on a whole different set. Most Americans don’t fit into easy boxes and in my lifetime I’ve voted for Democratic, Republican, and Green Party candidates for President. While my obvious pro-Obama tendencies are showing tonight, I do my best to respect various views. I sometimes fail, but I at least try.
“Hate” is a strong word and is one I reserve only for special occasions. Being called a hater this evening has had me both fuming and near tears for the last few hours. I take my hate seriously, it’s a powerful emotion and not to be trifled with. I don’t agree with the current incarnation of Mitt Romney on nearly anything, but I don’t hate the guy. I never liked George W. Bush but I bet he would be interesting to talk to. “Hate” is an emotion reserved for terrorists and other murderers, politicians do stupid and hurtful things sometimes, but I don’t hate them for it. I chalk it up to ignorance and the corrupting influence of money in the system. Politics in America have become so divisive that instead of trying to improve things some simply wear the anger as a badge of honor.
One of my colleagues here over in the Catholic Channel recently wrote the following words about Obama:
Look, I loathe Obama as much as the next guy. I think he’s a baby hating, Kenya born, secret Muslim who holds our country in contempt. Oh, and Michelle is his “beard”. Every dispicable opinion you can have of the man I hold. I’ve compared him to Hilter and Herod and if he invited me to dinner I would decline for fear of how I’d react if I got within arm’s reach. No, I would never do grievous bodily harm to another human being but some smug mugs are just begging for a good slap. No sin in that.
On a daily basis I pray to Pan that I don’t become that. I’d rather hump the tree in my backyard than hold onto that much anger and hatred everyday. That kind of anger might fuel a person to a point, but eventually it just eats you up. I think I would be an intolerable ass if I lived with that much rage inside of me all the time. I just can’t fathom it.
If I have one wish this political season, it’s not for my candidate to win, but for civility to somehow reign over what’s left of the process. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean that they “hate.” A lot of people prefer “The Big Bang Theory” over “Community,” I don’t hate them for it. It’s disappointing for sure, but it doesn’t make them bad people. I have friends from different sides of the aisle and of various religious and political stripes and I disagree with a lot of them, but I don’t think their views necessarily make them stupid, Un-American, or evil. If we all agreed on everything there might be more harmony in the world, but it wouldn’t be as interesting.
Sorry for the intrusion of politics . . . .
*If you actually break the whole thing down, it’s a ridiculous statement. I don’t actually think he took 28 years of his life off and stopped earning a paycheck and working behind the scenes.
**Truthfully, Jim was kind of a jerk.