Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Reflection On Winners and Losers

From Despair, Inc. (http://www.despair.com/)
Used without Permission*  
I am not a competitive person.  Even when I’ve been a spectator, I’ve never completely understood the concept of “winners” and “losers” and I always empathized more with the “losers”, partly because of their defeat, but mostly because they deluded themselves into thinking that the game they just played was more important than it really was.
From Despair, Inc. (http://www.despair.com/)
Used without Permission*
From Despair, Inc. (http://www.despair.com/)
Used without Permission*
Games are one thing.  

Our US Government and the Election of its Officials is quite another.  The problem with political “winners” and “losers” is that outcomes of our political battles don’t just affect the candidates - they really are much more important than a game because they can affect all of us for years to come.

But my purpose here is not to expound on the merits or faults of one political philosophy or party or another.  I am pondering the question of why our country is so divided.  And why that division has become increasingly more pronounced over the past decades.  And why believers on both sides are becoming more and more entrenched in their positions and more willing or more desperate to close their ears, their eyes and their minds to “the other side”. 

I was thinking of how I might feel should the Republican Presidential candidate win this election and the first thing that came to mind was that I would feel angry.  First, angry that there might be people who know me who voted against my hard won rights, against my well-being and against my safety and security – against my “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”.  Like “How could they?”

Then, angry that “we” were not able to reason with “them” and offer convincing, logical arguments that anybody could see were right and correct.  Angry that somehow “we” let this get away from “us”.  Angry that “they” somehow got more people pulling on “their” end of the rope.

Thinking about that anger – I find that beneath the anger really is fear.  Fear that not only my life and liberty, but everything I believe in would be threatened – my values, my freedoms, my independence, my rights.

And when I realized this, I thought, “That is probably how the other side is feeling about us.  Everything we stand for probably seems like a threat to their worldview, their beliefs, their very identities.

While I believe there is a qualitative, essential, phenomenological difference between the two worldviews, I don’t want to offer an analysis here – that would only serve to sidetrack the point I am trying to make.  

That point is, with two more or less equal groups feeling threatened by the other, how, oh, how, can this nation expect to survive? 

How can two groups whose distrust and suspicion for one another ever work together for the common good?

Is there a way for each side to suspend the threat that instills fear on the other side?

Is there a way for each side to chip away at the Berlin Wall that separates them?

I’m thinking that we all had better find a way to do so, sometime soon, or we will be in an ideological war, perhaps a war with real weapons, perhaps a war with real bloodshed and with no spectators and no winners.
From Despair, Inc. (http://www.despair.com/)
Used without Permission*
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Stan said...

Great post. I've often had the same thoughts but the one thing that I've always believed that distinguishes us liberals is you do not have a small mind and are more open to more thoughts and ideas. These right wing nut neoconservatives that now dominate the Republican Party are nothing but closed minded in their beliefs and I don't think can ever change their way of thinking.

Russ Manley said...

Right on, Stan. The ultraconservative religious freaks have wound themselves up into such a ball of madness that they are just out of touch with reality. I'm sure you guys are aware of how all the rightwingers are freaking out - Karl Rove did it on camera - over Romney's loss. They just are out of touch with the reality of America in 2012. I don't know how you fix that, any more than fixing the Muslim fanatics who do suicide bombings, etc. When an infallible belief system is more important than the human being standing in front of you, there's no reasoning with someone like that.

On the other hand, it is some comfort to realize that the very same issues have been argued and re-argued and fought over, time and again since this country was founded. Civil rights, feminism, immigrants, "family values," the whole ball of wax - look back in your history books and you'll see the more things change, the more they stay the same. Just the names are different, but it's the same old debates, warmed over and refried, in every generation.

Somehow, though, we've made it this far - maybe we will make it another couple of centuries. I hope.


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