Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I have some political views

Okay, so I realize that this blog has become primarily a food blog.  But when I first started this blog I did it because I wanted to have a place to discuss things that were important to me. Obviously my waistline can tell you that food is definitely one of those things :) However, I also have other interests like child rearing, religion, politics, etc.  So hopefully with this preface you won't think the rest of this post is too random or crazy or boring.  It's just something that's been on my mind.

So, one more time, just so we understand one another...there is no recipe that follows this rant.  It's just a good ol' fashioned political post and it's about to get pretty soapboxy in here.  But don't worry I'll be back tomorrow for a tutorial about how to slice an avocado properly :)

I've been struggling lately with how "black and white" people try to make things during an election year.  The right says something ridiculous so the left counteracts by saying something equally ridiculous trying to prove the other side wrong.  I'm worried that we get so caught up in being "Republican" or "Democrat" that we don't stop to think about what we are actually saying or how it is coming across.

The latest case of this was sparked by President Obama's remarks in Roanoke over the weekend.  I'll quote him first before I comment further.  This is the part of the remarks I've seen posted over and over.

"Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

First of all, amen to the great teacher thing!  Not that the government has helped teachers out very much lately.  But seriously go give a great teacher a hug right now! I'll wait. Now I'll move on to my main point.  Do I agree with everything the President said here...no. But do I agree with a lot of it...yes! (shocked whispers) Could he have probably chosen his words more carefully and made his point better...yes.  But the thing that has really concerned me the most is some of the responses that I've seen to his remarks.

I know there is an entitlement problem in America right now.  I get that. I do.  But on the other end of the spectrum from the "everyone owes me everything" mentality is the "I did it all by myself" mentality.  And I'm sorry but that way of thinking is just as crippling as the first. Really, part of what President Obama is saying is true. If we really stop and think about our lives, all of us have had help along the way.  Maybe not from the government, maybe not financial help, but we all have support systems of some kind. Both seen and unseen.

In today's world just having parents who help teach you about hard work is a rare commodity.  I'm a hard worker.  I know that work is important and that working hard has very positively affected my life.  But I can also easily identify people and programs who have helped me get here.  First, I had parents who were involved in my life.  They valued education and hard work.  What if they didn't?  What if all the role models in my life hadn't taught me right from wrong?  Or didn't know how to work?  Or abused government programs to make a living?  Would I still be a hard worker?  I don't know.  And I think most people out there, if they are being truthful with themselves, don't know either because they've never been in that situation. This is  a good argument for being slow to judge.  Do we really want to condemn a generation based on the sins of their fathers? So yes, maybe I work harder at things than some people, but I had a lot of motivation to do that from positive role models in my life.

Some other examples: when I was in college I had to work early mornings cleaning the shared bathrooms in the freshman dorms in order to pay my tuition. (Hard work) But I also attended a church school where I enjoyed having a tuition bill that was about a quarter of the price that many of my friends paid at state schools.  And the reason my tuition was lower was because of the contributions of thousands of church members throughout the world.  My husband's employer (a government lab) paid for his graduate work.  My daughter has cerebral palsy and has received a lot of her therapies from a state funded program that employs P.T.s, O.T.s and speech therapists.  These are just a few of the ways I've been helped; saying that I did everything on my own would not only be ungrateful it would be untrue.  So yes, I'm a hard worker but I didn't get the life I have completely on my own.

Another point the President makes is that just because someone is less fortunate doesn't mean that they aren't a hard worker.  No matter how well we plan out our lives, any one of us can find ourselves in need of charity at any moment.  There are things that happen that you can't stop.  Health needs, loss of job, death in the family, etc.  But in argument, some people will say "yes, but I don't mind giving help to people who deserve it".  But don't we learn that true charity can come when we help people who maybe don't deserve it?  We can't just say people who succeed are workers and people who don't are lazy.  It is getting harder and harder to "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" so to speak.  Are there lazy people out there...sure.  But does that justify not giving government help to anyone?

I've also heard the argument "Give a man a fish, he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime".  I understand the sentiment behind it.  But I just think it's a combination of the two.  It's important to teach people to fish but there is also a time to just give a man a fish.  If we want to get scriptural about it we could do that too.  Does God want us to work hard during our life? Yes!  But I also seem to remember that Christ handed out a free fish or two during his ministry without requiring anything back.  He didn't just feed people who agreed with him, he fed everyone who asked.

So basically what I'm saying is...I know most people, if they really stop to contemplate their life, are going to realize that each of us is profoundly affected by the sacrifices, large and small, of others.  And that sometimes we accomplish things as individuals and sometimes we accomplish things in a group.  All of us owe a debt of gratitude to the patriots who founded our country or to the men who've served in the armed forces.  And I know that most people realize these things, they just get so caught up in the party system that they end up saying things that they don't really mean.

I just can't seem to fit Christ's ministry into a single man-made political party.  It just doesn't fit.  His message was about love and about doing what is right.  Many of us have differing opinions about how best to do that within the realm of "politics".  So we each have a responsibility to make our personal beliefs mesh with our political beliefs.  And allow all men to do the same.

My personal belief is that we need to find some balance before we are going to heal the wounds that are running rampant in our country.  At some point we are going to have to evolve past a two party system.  We have to stop thinking "what would the republicans do" or "what would the democrats say" and start thinking what do I, as a person, want to do and say.  Then maybe our leaders will be able to stop representing a party and get back to representing the people.  But in the meantime, try to look for the good in one another.  Each side has good points.  Don't say things you don't mean and can't take back.  Don't let yourself get sidetracked from the actual issues by getting caught up in the "media madness" of it all.  The media knows when something will make a ripple...a misquote, a stumble, etc.  They try and reel you in with things like "Republicans hate working moms" or "Democrats hate small business owners".  Take the time and research these issues for yourselves.  Don't just read one article about something and call it good.  Know your sources...because they each have their own slant.  Each of us has the right to vote our conscience and decide for ourselves what side of the issues we are on.  Don't just let Anderson Cooper make up your mind for you.  Although he is really attractive! (Seriously ladies, you know what I'm talking about).

So I'm not trying to say that the President was right about everything he said.  I'm not trying to say that he has all the right answers to those problems.  I'm just trying to remind everyone that it's not just cut and dry, right or wrong.  I think he made a lot of good points. "The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

 I just don't want people to let "party affiliation" block them from seeing that sometimes the "other side" actually makes a little bit of sense.

Soap Box over. Now it's your turn...discuss...

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