Thoughts of Peace, Love, and Politics

As we near another “most important election in our lifetime” cycle in the U.S., I’m left wondering where we are heading as a country. So much vitriol, anger, and fear. I refuse to believe that we are as divided as a country as so many pundits and politicians make us out to be. I base this on my own personal experience.

I’m non-partisan and have lived long enough to be disappointed by both major parties and even some of the non-majors (i.e., Libertarians, Greens). I’m suspicious of people who seek power and the cults of personality that arise all too often in national politics.

To be blunt, I’m not a fan of Trump and I’m equally leery of the majority of the Republican party that is following his lead. But that does not make me a Democrat or Biden fan. And therein lies my point: I try very hard not to view things (politics or otherwise) through an either/or, dualistic lens. Life is more nuanced than that. I believe most people, deep down, think this as well. There is just so much bullshit from the halls of power and the media that fosters division and some people tend to follow the bullshit without thinking critically. But my own experience, having travelled millions of miles around the world and meeting people from all over, tells me that people have way more in common than not. And whatever differences are largely superficial.

I have some friends that are staunch Republicans and have views on politics that I don’t agree with. But they remain my friends because what bonds us is more substantial. There is love and respect that has been fostered over time. The same holds true with me and my radically liberal friends. I don’t necessarily agree with them on many matters but not so much as to disqualify them as friends because of our commonality. This may sound like I’m a “centrist” (i.e. wishy washy or luke warm). I am not. If I’m to label myself, I’m a “non-dualist”. I choose to try to look at the whole of life, not the convenient “compartments” we get placed in, I believe this is what Jesus was getting at when he suggested “love your neighbor”.

Current Affairs….and what I’m NOT doing….

Back in February, my wife and I decided to discontinue our TV service which was a typical deal where we had several hundred channels of content but only a dozen that we would watch sparingly. As is typical of the demographic I represent, a few of those channels were news stations. I must say that of all the stations I thought I would miss, the cable news stations were the ones I’d miss the most….or so I thought….

Now a few months sans TV (albeit we are streaming movies and such), I must say I don’t miss cable news a bit. I’m not going to go on a political rant about the bias and ills of corporate news media (for the record, I avoid FOX News like the plague but am always suspicious of CNN and MSNBC). That said, I do believe its good to stay informed but I have found it not so good to become obsessed with news stories that the networks hype up to keep an audience transfixed for hours and hours.

I say all this to share that I’ve felt a bit more level headed when it comes to keeping up with current affairs. I subscribe to a national news paper and a local one. I avoid social media news feeds and, as I’ve always done, treat all information with a level of discernment. I don’t believe in an unbiased news outlet. Any human endeavor will have some bias. I try to think critically and, most importantly, keep the emotions in check, living by the principles found in The Serenity Prayer (i.e. know what I can and can’t control and don’t confuse the two). If I can’t control matters, why get worked up? Now, if I’m watching cable news with their endless parade of talking heads and opinions, how could I NOT get worked up? But, having removed that element from my life, I’m required to be more proactive in getting my information and more discerning about how I respond to that information.