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.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Hillary, Iran and Iraq

I didn’t start out picking Hillary Clinton over the other democratic candidates for president. In fact I felt ambivalent about her. But lately I’ve been turning more in her direction. I found out this week that she is the frontrunner and likely to get the nomination. This surprised me somewhat. Frankly, I didn’t have confidence in the American public to support a female candidate. I want to support a candidate who has a strong chance to win against a republican candidate. And whoever does get the nomination is the one I will support. I just watched a recent democratic debate with all seven candidates and I thought Ms. Clinton held her own fairly well. I’m willing to give her a chance in the next couple of months by paying closer attention to her. Does it matter to me that she’s a woman? Yes, it does. I think it’s long overdue. I think more qualified women should represent the population considering that about half the population is female. Hillary Clinton is in a unique position of having been the first lady of a popular (obviously not by all) president. She is thoroughly familiar with life in the White House and life in the Senate. Her husband is a very bright and capable man who could be an invaluable support to her as the first female president in U.S. history. I’m not saying she’s perfect but if she’s got a chance to defeat a republican administration, she’s got my vote. And I’m not saying that democrats are perfect but compared to Bush and his associates they are quite a few steps in the right direction. And the hard fact is that the U.S. is a two party system (independents don’t cut it yet), so there isn’t a lot of choice. Sometimes it’s a question of going with the lesser of two evils. Other times it’s just common sense.

All this speculation about the Bush administration pushing for yet another war, this time with Iran, is very disturbing to me. We are already overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan and under protected at home. Hillary and several other candidates stressed the need for diplomacy which I think is essential whenever interacting with another country, especially a potentially hostile one. Get to know the opposition, especially the cultural orientation, be respectful but firm and learn to compromise if it’s necessary. Iran says it wants uranium to create nuclear energy for their country and not to have a nuclear bomb. Many Americans are highly suspicious of this. The fear is that Iran, an anti-Western country, will become a nuclear power and will supply muslim terrorists with nuclear weapons, especially terrorists in Iraq. The facts are that Iran is supporting the insurgents in Iraq and I can see why people are nervous over the association but the utmost caution is needed for this very delicate situation, not threats of war.

Iran is a very ancient country, 5,000 years old. It’s not surprising that it should be a conservative culture considering its long history. In comparison the United States is a newcomer, powerful, foreign and intrusive but lacking in historical credentials. I think Iran deserves a certain respect. It has a rich past and a vital present but I do not believe in the current regimes religious and cultural repression of its people, especially women and young people. But it is not my country or my culture. As a pacifist I don’t believe that they should be supporting the Iraqi insurgents but neither do I think that the U.S. should be in Iraq aiding and fighting in foreign civil wars. Both sides are irresponsible in resorting to and supporting violence. When the irresponsible rule wars and repression and civil rights abuses are planted in fertile ground. And violence rains down openly and covertly.

My family are democrats but they are not pacifists. They still believe that war is sometimes necessary. Even my brother states plainly that while beginning a war in Iraq was a big mistake that we have to stay until the area stabilizes which might not be for a long time. I don’t voice my opinion on this to him because he would become derisive and argumentative but I think we should leave. We stirred up a hornets nest and now the Iraqis are fighting each other and us and it’s a horrible mess. I can see how some Muslims could look at the U.S. government and army as being presumptuous, intrusive and arrogant. I hate thinking of the American soldiers over there getting killed or being maimed because of a misguided patriotism. They shouldn’t be there. It’s not their country or their culture (and I’m afraid too many of them are still ignorant about the people, customs, religion, language). I want them to come home. They have not succeeded in eliminating terrorists, quite the opposite they have given terrorist sympathizers a focus to fight with and a place to organize. And it is the Iraqi men (for they are the ones doing the fighting) who are perpetuating civil war in their country to the point where the only viable solution seems to be to cut the country into pieces. I’m horrified by the death and destruction but I’m also disappointed in the human spirit that makes killing and maiming a legitimate approach to conflict, still.

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