A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Democrats In The Running

A couple of weeks ago there was a debate between the Democrats running for president. Today my brother gave me a DVD of it since I missed it. First of all, it wasn't really a debate but more of a question and short answer set-up, a kind of introduction to the candidates. So far there are eight candidates. The front runners are Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. The rest are Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. I thought they all came across fairly strongly and there was no fighting amongst them, but then, for the most part they agree on the major issues: withdrawal from Iraq, Universal healthcare, pro-choice for women, gun control (except Richardson). That's all I remember right now. Oh yeah, civil unions (as opposed to marriage) for gay couples. I agree with these positions too (though I think gay people should have the right to get married if they so choose).

I come from a family of dedicated Democrats (my brother would say he's also a bit of a libertarian) but it's only recently that I've become interested in politics. I always voted Democratic and I was pleased when Clinton won but I didn't engage in discussions about it. But as I get older and after experiencing the younger Bush as president I find myself more interested in the world at large, especially because of the horror of the Iraq war. Not only am I a democrat but I'm a pacifist. This is a recent realization. It's as if I'm finally starting to define myself in my middle years. I know full well that a true pacifist would never be elected in this country, not yet anyhow and not when there is all this concern over terrorists attacking us. And if a Democrat is to be elected he (or she) must be tough. For me right now, that's the most important thing, that a Democrat be elected president, preferably for the next two terms, to try to undo all the trouble that Bush and his administration has caused with their hard-line/rich folk, quasi-religious politics. Also, this will mean that the troops can finally come home (though hopefully before the elections) and we can return to fortifying our own defenses instead of wasting our resources (and lives and limbs!) in a country that doesn't even want us to be there in the first place.

I was listening to Madeleine Albright (former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton) read from her book The Mighty and The Almighty. She said many Muslims in the Middle East went from having a positive view of Americans to a very negative view of Americans after the U.S. invaded Iraq. They worry that the Americans will want to kill Muslims and control their territories. This is not such a far fetched assumption on their part though I pray that our leaders will, after Bush leaves office, correct this horrible idea. Bush and his fundamentalist allies desire to distance the U.S. from the United Nations and in many ways they have succeeded in doing just that. Foolish! In order to fight the insidiousness of fundamentalist terrorists we need to all work together. Alienating ourselves from the wise counsel and support of other nations is a recipe for disaster. What is the sense in that? Not only is it pig headed, it is arrogant. We are not the center of the world. And I still don't understand why it's okay for us to stockpile nuclear weapons while we tell other countries that they can't without serious reprisals. We are a country with high crime rates, people living in poverty, no universal health care, high addiction rates, packed prisons and the gap between the have and the have nots is growing. To many Muslims we are immoral to boot. We are certainly not the worst country in the world but we're also not the best and yet some of us act as if we are, ignoring the myriad of problems we face each day. What's wrong with a healthy dose of modesty and a respect for other countries and cultures?

I'm not saying that Democrats are perfect (no one is perfect) but at least they stand for the common man over the wealthy man and at least they follow a practice of diplomacy when dealing with the rest of the world. These are two things sorely needed, one at home and the other abroad. If we are ever to steer muslims away from violent fundamentalism we have to set an example of intelligence mixed with tolerance and we have to stop pretending we are the be all and end all of things.

End of rant.
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