Friday, June 23, 2006

Vision For America

This speech by Barack Obama engages the reasons why I participate so passionately in politics. I only hope that I can become half as principled, eloquent, and bold as Obama. You can accept or reject his "progressive" stance on the issues, but surely you can respect his honest passion to bring positive change to America. Here is an excerpt:

" She believed that we don't have to settle for equality for some or opportunity for the lucky or freedom for the few. And she knew that during those moments in history where it looked like we might give up hope or settle for less, there have always been Americans who refused. Who said we're going to keep on dreaming, and we're going to keep on building, and we're going to keep on marching, and we're going to keep on working because that's who we are. Because we've always fought to bring all of our people under the blanket of the American Dream. "

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Inconsistency, Hypocrisy, and the Mis-informed

Nothing bothers me in this world more than people who commit the following faux pas - Inconsistency, Hypocrisy, and acting on Mis-information (or none at all). This is especially maddening when it is policymakers, people in great power, or radical policy-pushers who commit these egregious errors.

First, consistency is a must in applying values, ideas, and dedicating yourself to a cause. Now, consistency is not the same thing as mechanical, habitual, or just plain monotonous. Nor does consistency mean you can't change your mind occasionally when you have gathered new information or you have found that applying information in a new way gains a new conclusion. What consistency does mean, especially in the idealistic sense (as in the application of ideas), is that one uses definitions to mean the same thing every time they use them, it means that one applies their values equally without picking and choosing when it applies, and it means that one has a system of beliefs that are reconcilable. Consistency is not always possible in all situations, and people are not perfect at application, but many, especially when it comes to policy and politics, pick and choose ideas, values, morals, belief systems, facts, assumptions, logic, etc as it meets the needs of the situation, without any real consistency. This type of inconsistency truly drives me crazy!!!

Secondly, closely related to inconsistency is hypocrisy! Hypocrisy involves action - one holding or talking about beliefs that they hold, but then acting in a manner that is totally contradictory and insolent. You know a real hypocrite when you see/hear one, because she/he will always say things they think that people want to hear and then go out and do whatever the hell they want. I have no problem with one who honestly changes their mind or heart based on new evidence or a new understanding. In fact, I applaud people who are honest enough and secure enough to be able to declare that they were wrong in the past. When one can't admit to past mistakes or admit to new understanding, they become arrogant, proud, and stubborn in the worst way. I have no room for blatant hypocrites. Please if you ever see me being hypocritical please let me know (politely) so I can fix my mistake.

Finally, acting on mis-information or no information at all is the most unnerving faux pas! Sure, it's not possible for most of us to have a complete grasp on most issues, but you at least have to try to understand what you are talking about. You have to have at least some basis for your beliefs. If you're going to write or criticize policy I would hope that you at least have some experience, knowledge, or understanding of the topic or issue. One example that really upsets me is when people say say the following about people with disabilities - "Oh - that is so horrible how he/she suffers like that - I would NEVER want to live like that?" How in the world could they possible know what it is to "live like that???" Why are people so quick to judge what it must be like to live with a disability with absolutely no understanding of the quality of life that people with disabilities enjoy. This also applies when people make the false assumption that it might just be better to abort a baby who will be born with a disability and "suffer" then to let them live. This view is often based on a completely erroneous conception that the only possible life one with a disability one can live is one of pain, inferiority, and diminished quality of life. It is true that many people with disabilities have historically (and still continue) to live sub-human and oppressed lives. Fortunately, many do not, and there is no law that says that it is the way that it has to be. The other group of egregiously mis-informed are the biblethumping Jesus freaks who have absolutely no idea what their religion or beliefs mean. They spew out bible quotes and repeat sermons, but without any clue what the words even mean. When you question or challenge them, they simply quip back, "it's in the bible it must be true." Please don't get me wrong - I have nothing against people who have a deep and affirmed faith or belief system. I just think that one must actually know what it is that they believe. It only makes sense that when one has questioned their ideas, beliefs, and values they will have a deeper and more profound connection to the belief, because now they have had the opportunity to internalize and reason these important ideas.

In the end I don't care what ideas and beliefs you hold as long as you faithfully apply all the above when arriving at your conclusion.