September 28, 2008

Creed Outworn

Politics is a dirty business. It is divisive, base, and often destructive. It is an aspect of our lives where people get emotional and often react instinctualy and illogically. We are so entrenched in our own viewpoints that it takes too much effort to look to the other side of the political landscape and find similarities, especially when the other side seems to be the polar opposite of our worldview. A moose hunting, God-fearing, hockey mom is about as different of a person from me as I can imagine. I have a hard time relating to anyone that doesn’t think of her as a total joke.

See there I go again. I was trying to find some common ground, find some peace, and I almost went on another rant. I have often said that my mother, an ardent Zen practitioner, is the barometer of my compassion and understanding. Her longstanding mantra is, “how are your words helping the people who read them.” She gets upset when I get angry and lash out textually. I try to explain to her that my rage in prose is a way I work out my ideas, and while they may be hurtful for some, I try to come back with a more reflective piece later. Anybody who reads this blog regularly will see that my ideas and political journey are just that a journey, sometimes I am understanding and sometimes I am just the opposite.

I often lose sight of her simple advice when I am, say, ranting about Sarah Palin, or the coming apocalypse. The line, The world is too much with us came to mind, as I thought about how I absorb the world. I often feel that I take on too much. I looked up to see who wrote it, William Wordsworth, and I was caught by the beauty of the poem in its entirety:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
I am not sure where this poem or post were meant to take you my reader, but I felt that I have been falling victim to the dark side of politics. Caught in its grips, I have let emotion and anger cloud my world.
I find myself sitting quietly in this dark room with gentle music washing over me, trying to regroup and reenter the fray. It is important to sometimes vent and release steam and aggression, but it is equally as important to sit back and reflect on where that anger comes from.

My anger derives form the fact that I am so often shocked by how people can so actively work against their own best interests. The Republican base, and lets face it this makes up most of America, have consistently allowed a small group of shysters and thieves, not only steal their money and political power, but they have allowed their party to actively work to worsen their day to day lives. Rather than stand up and fight for what is theirs, they are repeatedly duped by the same story: the myth of the salt of the earth politician who only does favors for big business. Did Dan Qualye teach us nothing? How is someone like Palin even allowed to get this far?

It is easy to say that these people are stupid or ignorant. I often find myself saying that Americans in the Red states get what they deserve for not being open to possibilities, but really a group of people under the spell of jingoistic politics, religion and mass media has little power to escape what they are told. Propaganda is a very powerful tool when presented as freedom. How can we expect people to be educated to the possibilities beyond the GOP when they are seldom offered alternatives?

I have worked in inner city schools, schools in Africa, and schools overseas, but the constant thread that runs through the educational narrative is ignorance. Perhaps what the left needs in the US is not overt name calling and politics as usual, but a more subtle educational program designed to insert teachers, union leaders, activists and artist in the red state bible belt. Imagine a Ken Kesey style road trip crisscrossing the USA, trying to wake people up, and educate them to the reality of the world beyond their churches, their television screens, and what they have been taught in outdated schools.

I am sure I will be accused of left wing elitism. People will say that I am somehow putting myself above the people. That may be the case, but as a teacher that is my job- to try and awaken, enlighten, and inspire people to seek out knowledge and information.

How long can we live in nation where politics have become nothing more than the latest reality TV show? If we want our country to change we must wake up and look for alternatives. Name-calling can be fun and easy, but the circus leaves town every four years and we are back to business as usual. The rich steal from the poor and tell them it is in their best interests. The poor listen and pray, wave a few flags, and go on their dreary way. The story is as old as time.

In an effort to expand my network and share more freely with other people on the web, I have decided to use Creative Commons as a way to use other peoples' photos and art into my blog posts. Please see the caption to see more of foto43's work.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes it is just too much. There are too many issues in the periphery, externally inundating us in our daily lives, that we lose sight of even the most basic internal insight. It is vital to be informed of the world, to participate, but its equally, if not more, vital to participate in your internal dialogue, to observe, and see where all this stimuli is really getting you.