Sunday, October 31, 2004

Liberty, mercy and "Motorcycle Diaries" 

A letter to a friend:


Steven, it would be very easy to demonize the "right". There are many directions we could all move in right now. I am still of the persuasion that, as the I Ching teaches, it is best to be forgiving and merciful with the followers of...evil, or ignorance...and punish the leaders. I am counting on their being some indictments after Kerry is in office. If not, and the neocon leaders get off scott-free, then there is the danger it will happen again.

I had a passionate discussion with a man who delivers pastries to the coffeeshop where I work in New Orleans. It was 6am, and he brought up the topic of politics...whew, I couldn't believe how my passions could bubble over so early in the morning like the hot coffee my co-worker was brewing. Long story short, he made fun of Kerry, I defended him. This man, I'll call him Kevin, stated he didn't believe he was capable of understanding the workings of our government, so implied he preferred having a president who was strong and decisive and knew what to do; basically, a man who never questioned himself or the decisions he has made. Funny, but this was the exact same argument made by a friend of mine at a time when this friend was still supporting Bush.

I asked Kevin how he felt about his president lying to him about the decisions to go to war. He rationalized...I suggested that by forfeiting his own participation in this democracy, he had participated in the creation of a dangerous situation in which fanatics had got control of our country. Kevin suggested we must confront and defeat those who express a sentiment against our country. I told him I wanted no part of his war...he was startled at my statement. "My war?" he said. "If you wish war upon those who express a sentiment against us, " I said, "I want no part of it".

The last thing he said to me was, "I'm going to support my president."

Well, I saw him again this morning, exactly one week later, and I do believe he thought about the things I said. "I don't really think much of him, of Bush," he said. He voted early, and he voted for Bush, but now he was beginning to allow some real feeling to come through.

He expressed a lack of confidence in his ability to understand political essays and writings. He also expressed confusion about the vast number of opinions, and why people believe and say the things they say. I encouraged him to explore...a wide variety of views. Kevin actually expressed a good deal of insight while we talked, and I pointed out that he knows more than he realizes. I encouraged him to read, and I specifically recommended Howard Zinn, because Zinn has written much on the history of the working class in this country. "Oh", he said, " you mean like the riots in New York between the Irish gangs?" This is not a stupid man, but this is a man, like many, who have little belief in their own powers of comprehension and understanding, and this is exactly the type of man that a fellow like George Bush preys upon.

I feel as though I have made a new friend, and I am going to encourage my friend to express his views and explore his own beliefs and thoughts.

There are those who reach for power because of greed and fear and a desire to control. And there are those who follow those in power out of a need to belong and feel secure. I advocate that we learn to practice and believe in the basic tenets of this country, that, in my opinion, have yet to be fullfilled:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Were there ever more beautiful words spoken, Steven, in the history of the formation of governments? Certainly, using one's imagination, one can feel a divine inspiration in those words, and religion is never mentioned in that text.

May I also point out, Steven, that our founding fathers said, "All men are created equal", not all American men, or all European men, or all men in that new world. America was meant to be the great wishing well for the dreams of the entire world. Too often, she has become the world's nightmare, because her themes have been usurped over and over again by those who would and are profiting from war and misery.

As I suggested before, stay vigilant. If Kerry is elected to represent us, then we must hold him accountable for his actions and decisions. He is a man. Right now many have idealized him, because the last four years have been so very painful. Kerry is a reasonable and intelligent man, but I do not believe all of his decisions will necessarily be reasonable. We must challenge him, and challenge ourselves, to apply the tenets of this democracy to humanity, to everyone we encounter.

May I suggest, as an antidote to politics right now, and if you are looking for a way to escape and relax, to see the film "Motorcycle Diaries", a film about a young Che Guevara and his travels with a friend through South America on an old, leaky motorcycle. It is one of the most beautiful and moving films I have seen in some time. You may, or may not, agree with the outcome of Che Guevara's life, but I believe this film beautifully captures Guevara's love of humanity.

It is this love that I believe we are all capable of tapping into, and expressing. In fact, it is self-expression, and art that seems to be the antithesis to our present administration, and the antithesis of war. I find myself continually seeking and finding art that moves me to create in my own life. Art, the act of creation, is the antidote...


From Steven (the above letter is my reply):

ScorpioRising: You are correct but I've never seen the actual
numbers [of Iraqi civilians killed in the war, which is upwards of 100,000 and counting] any where and you know those conservative,
they will be in denial. It's for their own good! I
knew it was much higher but didn't have any supportive
facts. By the way, speaking of support, what does
"Support Our Troops" mean. I have real trouble with
that statement. I really don't know what is being
said? Is that like support our troops and the war. If
you don't support the war, you don't support the
troops? Does this have something to do with Bush,
support our troops and G. W. Bush? I've heard this
thing about support our troops who are defending your
freedom! There's some connection between the war and
our troops and I can't figure it out. If I don't
support the war does this mean I don't support our
troops? Strange, I was talking with a friend(?) who
happens to be republican and he said some very strange
things to me. Like why do you and all the other
liberals hate this country. You know I didn't know I
hated this country until he pointed it out. Scorpiorising, I'm
getting a little tired of being demonized by the
right. I think it's time we take some action like was
done to the Dixie Chicks, Michael Moore and so many
more. I think it's about time we start boycotting
businesses like Wal Mart and taking other action. We
need to show ablolute support for those on the left.
The other day Bush was in town and right behind him
was Mike Tice the coach of the Vikings. Who did I see
at the republican nationa convension, Lynn Swan. In my
opinion, it's time we do as they do and demonized the
right and let it be known we don't care for their
actions either. What do you think?