Monday, October 22, 2007

Progressives: Wake up and Lead!

This one's aimed squarely in the mirror...

I gotta vent a bit for the sake of the world and one group of people who can play a large part in world-changing.

Progressives: Get your house in order. I used to think it was just the "Democrats", and then just the "liberals" who needed a kick in the ass, but now it's my own tribe of progressives that need a wake-up call.

In fact, I might as well lump us all into the same group for this exercise, because it seems a great many of us think we've got it all together when clearly we don't. Yes, it's a generalization, and sure there are people who are truly progressive without flaw, but most of us have a long way to go.

So, here's what we have GOT to do if we're going to lead:

1. Stop dissing religious people out of hand. Stop saying that all Christians are one thing or another. Stop saying that all religions are inherently violent. Stop saying that all religious men are misogynist. You may certainly condemn misogyny and bigotry, but you gotta quit with the broad over generalization crap.

2. Start spending more money on helping the planet rather than on telling other people to help the planet. I know we all want to get the word out, but the best way to do that is to simply do the things we think need to be done. Less bumper stickers, more scholarships. Less latex GWB masks, more solar panels. Just get back to work.

3. Stop contradicting yourself regarding violence. If you think you are a progressive, then you simply cannot condone violence. You must resist it in all its forms and quit trying to placate people who think otherwise. Capital Punishment in all cases is verboten. The answer to "what if you could kill one person to save the whole of humanity?" is not to kill that person because the question is ridiculous. We can solve these problems we face without violence. In fact, we cannot solve violence with violence, ever. I mean, duh!

4. Walk your environmental talk. This is essential. It must be done within reason, and you are not required to be perfect all the time, but you must give it your best effort all the time. Drive the greenest car you can afford, insulate your house before you resubscribe to cable. Recycle at work and start a recycling program (and keep it honest) if you don't already have one. Don't shy away from looking like an obsessive compulsive in this regard. It's shameful how many hip coffee houses don't recycle everything and compost what all they can.

5. Stop watching so much TV. You know who you are. I'm not saying you can't look at any screen ever again, but you don't have to watch 3 hours every night. My wife and I watch movies every so often, and sometimes an HBO series on DVD, but we try to keep it sane. It's not a crime to watch 24, but it shouldn't be watched 24/7, you know?

6. Be more responsible with your money. It's an overarching line item here. Spend your money more wisely. If that means drinking one less beer at dinner, so be it. If that means not buying a new iPod, fine. If you must buy a new iPod, find a way to balance that consumption back out... Whether the balancing includes carbon offsets or avoiding buying entire albums when only one song is cool, okay. Just realize that your money is a great tool in the fight for world peace and saving the planet. When you waste it on escapism with a pound of pot instead of an ounce, you do your tribe and the planet a disservice. I'm not kidding about the pot. Having wasted a lot of time wasting, I can tell you that I wish I had spent a bit more money on art supplies or trips to the countryside.

7. Care about children, and all the children in your life. It's really your only responsibility. All these other line items are really about showing future (and current) generations what to do if you want to be a loving and productive citizen. You are modeling progressive behavior to the kids that are watching you. Especially, your own children and the children in your immediate community/family. Show them love, give them tools to navigate in this wacky world. Our culture must shift this way or perish.

8. Get your mental health straight. If you've got a mental health issue or a deep relationship problem, take care of that right freakin now. I have met a lot of true progressives that frankly give us all a bad name when they lose their shit. Obviously, there are medical issues that need to be accounted for, but please, if you can, get your mind together before you show up at the next rally. Shouting "Governor Gregoire is a fascist!" while she's trying to get the biofuels bill pushed through Congress is totally counter-productive. I was at a forum discussing the Downing Street Memo where some guy in the 4th row stood up and yelled at Jay Inslee (a real progressive) to prosecute Maria Cantwell as a war criminal. Stay on topic, progressives! Seriously, I know we all mean well, but the message is being muddied.

There are clearly more line items to add to this list. Please add your own in a comment, I know you've got something to add here....

Science AND Religion 2

I think it's ridiculous to think that one group of people are inherently not as worthy as another. With all the bickering and name calling, we're not going to work our stuff out. Seriously. If you believe that Jesus is Love, that's cool. If you believe that Far Side comics are the new Bible, that's cool. Just leave each other alone, and quit spending so much money, time, effort and carbon to prove your points to me.

There's no "side" to take in this fake argument of Science vs Religion...but there's certainly a third way here. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is still a pretty good idea. Certainly not the only one, but it's a good basic concept no matter whose sacred text is comes from. Treat everyone with as much respect as you possibly can. At our cores, we're all worthy of love. I don't care who you are, you are worthy of love.

That last line can really piss people off, so I encourage comments on it. I know a lot of cynical contrarian types who hear that "worthy of love" stuff and immediately bring up Pol Pot or Hitler or whoever they think is clearly unworthy of any kind of love due to their murderous behavior. Those people are themselves worthy of love, and a heap of understanding... Which brings me again to George Bush...

My fellow progressives will someday recognize the creeping violence in their discussion of what they would like to do if they could have a moment alone with George Bush or Dick Cheney. It churns my stomach to say so, but I have myself had those same dark thoughts. "Think of how many lives would be saved!", the same arguments used in the silly hypothetical "what if you saw Hitler on the streets of Seattle, unarmed?" I have thought those violent thoughts and I have also double-checked them with what I would *actually* do in that situation.

I would not kill anyone. I wouldn't have killed Hitler. I would not punch Bush or Cheney in the nose. I would swell up with anger, certainly, but I would not act that anger out violently. It sounds weird to have to blog this confessional mixed in with my peace-and-love-for-all rhetoric, but it's just what's going on in my head.

I do truly think that we'd be better off without this current administration, but there's no way that violence against them will come to anything good or true in the end. I wish I didn't have to even write this stuff, but I hear that kind of thing all the time from my supposed progressive/liberal/democrat pals. This is why I feel like an outsider even in my own world... it sickens me, frankly. I sickened me when I did it, and it feels the same again when others do it.

Tragically, their (my) arguments about Science and Religion usually come up around that same time. The same people who espouse peace and love can be the same people who say they would like to ship off all the NeoConservatives to an island without food. It's not funny anymore, I think that's what I'm trying to say. It's tragic and fruitless.

Science AND Religion

Greetings Citizens,
I've just been reading (gasp!) a book called "Ishmael", and although I think it's a bit hard to get into the rhetorical style, it's triggered some thoughts I'll share witchoo.

Okay, it's pretty much just one thought. For us humans to work our stuff out, we've got to quit the false premise of Science vs Religion. In particular, they are so different in terms of what each is at their cores that it creates this crazy non-existant dichotomy.

More specific still, I think the Science-Only folks have got to spend more energy working their own stuff out. There's a new resurgence of atheism, but it has to be tempered with sensitivity and wisdom.

By way of analogy, I have a co-worker that is a hard worker, but he spends all kinds of time and energy telling me how this other co-worker or that administrator sucks. It sours me against him, sours the co-workers against him, and makes no lick of difference in his quality of work life.

Science people might very well have a few things worked out about humanity and its need to get right with the laws of nature, but they have got to quit the petty bickering. All the damn bumper stickers! The $2.50 (each) spent on sticky vinyl advertisements for their pet witty put-downs would be better spent on a fund to add more science to school curriculum in their local elementary, no?

More specifically still, whose hearts and minds will you be winning with a bumper sticker saying "come the rapture, can I have your car?" ? Very few, methinks. It's witty, but it only serves to make fun of the very people who you'd like to convince that living for today here on earth is a good idea. What it really does is say to rapture-believers is that you think you're better than they are.

We've just got to get together and work this all out. We have to see each other as humans on a fragile planet full of other animals that need our help to survive. Science people (for lack of a better term) are complex, just like Religious people. We've all got our shit to work out, and it's going to take all hands on deck.

Science people: I implore you, be nicer and focus on making the world a better place rather than telling people to beware of Jesus and his followers.