So we're one month in to 2012 and it's been kind of rough. The election mudslinging has started early. Long term relationships between non-profit organizations are threatened by political machinations. Major companies pretend to support one lifestyle, cave when threatened by a PAC, then switch again when public opinion cows them. It's going to be a long year. I can see lots of unpopular ideas being promulgated and lots of "facts" being tossed around to prove one side or the other as right/wrong - good/bad. And so I thought I'd make my position known and just refer anyone who wants to drag me into their battle to this post for the next several months.
Like Martin Luther King Jr., "I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up." I was raised to believe that all people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. That unless I am willing to walk in another person's shoes, I have no business telling them what they should or shouldn't do, be or shouldn't be, have or shouldn't have. I was taught that education and culture are key to building dignity, equality and freedom. I was taught to vote with my heart AND my mind, to listen to others argument and position when it is done with respect and honor and willingness to listen to mine. I was taught to be willing to compromise when the good of all was more important that what was good for me. I was taught to build up others, to believe of them what they may not believe of themselves. And to show what is possible when people are willing to let go of the past, let go of the pain and look toward a better tomorrow.
And so, let me clear about this. I will not take part in any movement or campaign that has at its core the stripping of rights from ANYONE, the tearing down of ANYONE, the vanity and self centered nature of ANYONE. I will not vote for someone because he or she is the lesser of two evils. I will commit to looking beyond the sound bites, the advertising, the PACs, the money being thrown at me to convince me of a position that I know in my soul to be self serving, petty minded, ignorant and designed to tear down the very heart of a country and a people I know can do better. I know can be better. I know ARE better.
I will not listen to arguments that young people are lazy, apathetic and self seeking. I know many, many young people and every one of them is committed to their education, their future, their family, their country. In spite of the difficulty they are facing in finding work, finding homes, finding comfort, they believe in their ability to change things for the better.
I will not listen to arguments that retirees are bleeding the country dry because they failed to plan for old age and long term medical care. I watched my mother go from a house that she owned out-right, to apartment after apartment, to assisted living, finally to foster care - at one point having to give away every last dime she had in order to qualify for Medicare to pay for her care. There has to be a way to allow our citizenry to age with dignity and grace and give back to us from their years of living and wisdom - not to be discarded and forgotten.
I will not listen to arguments that say someone is not entitled to love another, to marry another, to raise a family because they are gay, straight, poor, rich, native or immigrant. I will not listen to any argument that places one human being above another. This is a deeply held core belief for me and I will not allow it to be violated. All beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Love one another is the core belief of every faith. And I can love you even if I don't understand why you are where you are on the path. All I ask is that you grant me the same - love me even if you don't understand my path. Until you walk it - you cannot know it.
Our system is broken. Our country is broken. Out of our brokenness can come so much good - but only if we are willing to work together. We must stop yelling at each other and begin to listen. With our hearts and with our heads. Love. Just love. Love One Another.