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.

Monday, November 5, 2012

US Elections 2012: Please Vote!

This is such an important election.  Every vote counts, which is why I am urging you to accept the responsibility of casting your vote on Tuesday.  We need to know how the majority really feels.  Do we want to go backwards or do we want to go forward?  Do we want to return to a time when women's rights were more restricted?  Do we want to continue promoting wars abroad at the expense of the men and women who fight them?  Do we want our health care system to be run like a business instead of like a social service where millions of people are excluded from coverage?  Do we want to reward the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us when so many people are struggling just to get by?  For those who are Christian, do you want to be Christian in name only and not in actions?

Barack Obama is not a demi-god; he is a human being.  And as a human being he has done a pretty good job, considering the economic upheavals within the US and the world these past three years.  To lay blame on him for our poor economy, ignoring those who acted irresponsibly in the previous administration, and ignoring the ensuing economic meltdown which has been compared to the Great Depression of the 1930s, is to ignore too many facts.  Mitt Romney is running his campaign on the pledge to create more jobs, to somehow boost our economy by protecting the wealthy while cutting much needed social services.  My good friend Richard, who I know is voting for Romney, said something the other day about how starting another war would be good for our economy.  I don't understand the logic of this.  Men and women are getting killed and maimed and psychologically scarred, but if it's good for the economy, it okay?  When did the state of our economy become more important than the value we put on human life?

I love Richard.  I know he is a good man by his actions.  He is hard working and loyal and generally very decent to everyone he encounters, but his views on the Christian religion (he is Born Again) and his views on politics leave me disturbed and deeply puzzled.  And I know many people in this country believe at least some of what he believes and will vote for Mitt Romney.  Why?  I think really because Romney is a very rich man and for too many financial success is a measure of self-worth and value to one's family and community.  Rich men are smarter than the rest of us.  They are obviously blessed by God.  The irony is that Jesus did not hang with the wealthy so much, but with the poor, disabled, sick, mentally ill, with the people who desperately needed help.

So there is this growing divide in this country.  Most people are already decided.  Whoever wins tomorrow, there will be many, many disappointed people.  How do we heal the US?  It's not just about money and who can generate jobs; it's about social issues and foreign policy.  This is why the divide is so great.  Obviously, I'm a Democrat, but I live in a mostly Republican area, and I know that the people who live here are good people; they are mostly white, poor to middle class and Christian.  We all live amidst the wide open countryside relying on cars to get us around.  There are not a lot of available jobs and some of the younger people join the military because they just don't have the choices that their wealthier counterparts do have.  So many people around here, in support of members of their community who are putting their lives on the line, also support the military.  They are invested in the nationalistic idea that the US must use its armed forces to defend against its enemies in order to secure freedom at home.  And so, war has become a necessary evil and the sacrifices being made are, in their eyes, for a noble reason.  In terms of foreign policy, I would have to say that the people here believe in preserving a large and strong military machine, believe in being tough and punishing towards any threat to the interests of the US.  This means they are committed to starting wars abroad.

To me, being a pacifist, this is a strange and terrible cycle and yet I can understand the logic behind it. There is also logic in Christians believing that abortion is morally wrong, and yet the desire to legislate making the choice for others is also morally wrong.  What I find in much of the Christian Republican perspective is fear.  Fear of "enemies" be they terrorists in foreign lands or socialists at home or moral degenerates who believe that gay couples should have the legal right to marry.  All this fear, all this not turning the other cheek, all this not loving your enemy, all this scorn towards the peacemakers is so very unChristian.  I can't help but look around me and think that too many Americans are hypocrites.  They talk the talk, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, they don't walk the walk.  But, of course, this is not how they see themselves.  I believe in their minds they see themselves as righteous.  Which leads me to the uncomfortable thought that I'm not the only one who falls into delusional thinking.  The difference for me is that I remain vigilant; I look to spot the flaws in my thinking and feeling.

So here I am encouraging you to do the same.  Delusional thinking can be seductive, can pull you into a world view that seems so real, but is not.  And mass delusional thinking, as I believe we are seeing here in the US, can lead to, in a worst case scenario, a holocaust.  I don't use that word lightly.  I truly believe that much of Christian Republican world view is a symptom of mental illness and that those who are seriously ill should not be in positions of power.  Right wing Republicans try to paint Obama as a flaming liberal, but he is not, as can be seen by the criticism that lefties have laid on the President. Obama moves towards the middle, whereas Romney moves towards the extremists.  I believe this country needs to stay in the middle, which means most definitely caring for the welfare of the middle class and the impoverished, the disabled and the addicted amongst others.  Dismantling the Affordable Care Act, setting women's rights back decades, increasing the military but neglecting veterans, slashing social services and other very important issues are not the way to heal the troubles in the US.

I'm giving a shout out to women, to so-called minorities, to veterans, to the gay community, to the middle class and to the impoverished, to the mentally ill, to the sick, to the old, to Christians who still believe in lovingkindness, inclusiveness and generosity.  Please vote in the election tomorrow.  Stand up and be counted.  Walk the walk.  Let the country as a whole know and the whole world know that we believe in recovery, not just for some, but for everyone.
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