Fear

It would seem that the folks who have hi-jacked the GOP and turned it into a heartless power-mongering machine, have managed to steer this election back towards the territory of the oft commented upon “Culture War” in the United States.

At the end of the DNC, I had hope that we were not going to go down this road…

I don’t want to name the individual who’s selection to run with McCain has been the most polarizing move in this game. I will not use the name because I don’t want to add to the number of times that name is out there. However I will say this:

It is profoundly confusing to me and many of my friends, to find ourselves in a country that has a significant number of people who will enthusiastically get behind this person. Some are reacting by blaming the media, saying that there really aren’t that many people behind her. I think this is wishful thinking. Others are just throwing mud and saying that people are just stupid. I think this is unfair. I think there are a lot of things going on but one of the big things that is going on is that people are scared.

It is hard to argue against the idea that Barack Obama represents change. He is, I think, appealing to the better angels of our nature. For many of us, this is exciting, and downright necessary. I happen to think our lives depend on it. But I also think that we need to come to terms with the extent to which this is scary for a lot of people.

We are in the midst of environmental and economic catastrophe. We are also at war. This is scary.

On top of this I think that many people look at Obama and feel fundamentally uncomfortable. It could be because he’s black, or because he’s educated, or because he’s new. In any case this feeling of ill-ease is scary.

So. I think people are looking for a reason to not support Barack Obama. They NEED a reason to not support him. For example: Many people in the United States have been culturally trained to not express racist sentiment. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have racist sentiments. It just means that those sentiments don’t get aired and don’t sit easily in them. So they will grasp for any other excuse to run from Obama so that they don’t have to say “I don’t like him cause he’s black.”

People who have two or three SUVs in their driveways, are afraid to change things that they see as fundamental to their lifestyle. So they chant “Drill, Baby, Drill!” It’s reassuring.

I don’t think these people are stupid. I think they’re scared. They feel trapped, and they’re looking for a way out.

They’re grasping for this new VP candidate because she seems to offer that way out. On a completely superficial, cultural level, she seems to offer comfort. We need to understand this. To ignore why this is happening is to be out of touch with our fellow citizens. To write it off is bigotry.

We don’t help them by telling them how irrational they’re being. We don’t help them by telling them they’re greedy, racist, idiots. I think we help them by helping them chill out. Calm down. Think about what’s going on. Look around. Listen to what people are actually saying. Pay attention, and take action based on consideration and rational thought.

On the other side, there is so much fear in how we are reacting to this new member of the McCain ticket. Hatred and fear. I don’t disagree with the reasons for these feelings, but I do disagree with the response. Chill out. Calm down. Think about what’s going on. Look around. Listen to what people are actually saying. Pay attention, and take action based on consideration and rational thought.

The result may be the same, but let it come from the better angels of our nature. Not the devils of fear that these power-mongers need to conjure in us all.

That’s what I think today…

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