It isn’t a joking matter…

Presidents’ kids have a rough go of it, young or old, but the campaign family of the past was seen more than they were heard. If they could not advance the campaign, they stayed out of the campaign.

Tagg Romney’s comments go beyond “just being a son” and certainly beyond a “jest,” they play into the anger and frustration of a nation looking for someone to blame, to retaliate against for the suffering they feel. When we feel woe and strife, we tend to either hide or strike out. When the woe does not have a face attached, we look for a face to attach to it. This is the basic nature of the animal of man, to flee/hide or strike/attack. This campaign season highlights the very reality that man has not overcome his base instincts.

This is the nature of what Tagg Romney is expressing (even in jest), and the human nature he is pandering to in his comments. He has a right to “feel” and he has a right to “speak” but when he is part of the campaign, his feelings, if expressed, and his spoken words are part of the campaign. Bear in mind, Tagg Romney was born in 1970 and is old enough to run for president himself, so he is certainly accountable for the words he speaks, even under the pretense of a jest.

More importantly, Tagg Romney is part of his father’s circle and therefore his words are relevant to the campaign. A public representative, will be held accountable for their actions, and to some extent the actions of those in their circle.  After all the campaigning in which Mitt Romney has participated, he and his family should be aware that this is the reality.

I am disturbed that the Romney Clan has yet to understand this basic principle of campaign policy/strategy – what is spoken, joke, misspeak or open-mic, does matter to the public.  We see it as a peek inside the “real” person, whether it is or not.

The president, upon taking the oath of office, will no longer be the common man*, but will be held to a higher standard than the people he serves. The president does not need to be perfect, but he does need to understand the scrutiny will not ease up and the standards will always be high. If he, and his family, cannot handle this pressure in the campaign, they will implode when he is in the White House.  And that would not be a joking matter.

* or common woman

Tagg Romney’s apology

Ignorance and discontent need not a majority make…

The ignorant youth love their fits of rage and acts of violence.  Their discontent with themselves and the world around them erupt in vandalism, cruelty, and intolerance. Sadly the ignorant old will hear the tales of ignorant young and say, “Good for them! That’s the way to show those ____.” Thereby they provide justification and acceptance for the acts of hate and rage and intolerance.

In every region of the world there is suffering which, in turn, people will use as justification for violence and hate. Sadly, there will always be those who will take their own suffering out on others, and are so willing, and often so eager, to hurt their neighbor.

During these times of heightened displays of rage, it is good, although sometimes difficult, to remember there are so many who still focus on the positive, so many that despite their own suffering will wake up each day and embrace the blessings of life with gratitude even if liberty and love are in short order around them. These wise people, who choose love over hate, tolerance over ignorance, and kindness over violence, remind us all that there is hope in the world.

The ignorant youth and the ignorant old can never be the majority as long as the wise and grateful do not join their ranks.

Win or Lose: It really is how you play the game!

In a politically heated world, it is easy to forget that it is not whether you win or lose but how you play the game.

When we focus too much on a goal of winning, we may falter in our understanding of what we perceive we are up against.  It becomes too easy to for us to let emotion sway our reason, sway our perception of truth.  In the end whether we win or whether we lose, we still must be able to move forward.

When we become polarized in our ideas of right and wrong, ferocious in our belief that the other side is not only the opponent, but desires the destruction of all we hold dear; when this happens we run the risk of our own ruin. For no matter the outcome of the election, the world will no longer meet the standards we have set, no politician will ever make us happy, and no law will satisfy our thirst for a sense of perfection. Politicians will promise, platforms will declare, but in the end disappointment will be our companion if we do not learn that the political apparatus cannot supply a sense of wellbeing. Only we can supply that feeling, that sense of prosperity, that sense of safety.

When we vote in an election, especially when the election is close, we must focus on the value of the process and not simply on the outcome we desire. This will ensure that win or lose, we will feel good about ourselves, our efforts, and our opponents, once the game is over.

Is the Cold War Really Over?

I remember how excited everyone was when the Cold War ended. Today, I researched about how hard it has been to leave the policies of the Cold War behind for a certain group of politicians. Bush was a big one to use Cold War rhetoric and policies. His advisers were entrenched in the Cold War. They saw phantoms at every turn, but missed the phantoms with a strategy.

Tonight I heard more of that same Cold War rhetoric, even directed at an old enemy, simply because I wasn’t smart enough to turn off the tv. The enemies have changed slightly but it seems we still need to have an enemy to feel good about ourselves. Still think we must define our power and our strength by the suppression of others.

Ironic how we don’t want to be the world’s police force, but at the same time we want to tell the world what they can and cannot do. All in the name of our national interests.

Today, I read an interesting article about how we have been at war since 1776. Do we know how to get along? Do we know how to be free without constant war? Must we play the international bully to feel good about who we are? Must we fear the world in order to feel protected? Does national defense always have to include international conflict? Is there no other way to lead, participate, or show strength?

What is wrong with being part of an international community? What is wrong with working together?  Yes, there will be war, will be bad people committing atrocious acts against humanity, but must we become so afraid that we justify Machiavellian preemptive strikes? Justify being the international bully?  How did we get this way, and how do we get off this path?

Will the Cold War ever be over if we continue to live in a perpetual state of fear and distrust?  Because the Cold War was not man against man, or even nation against nation – it was ideology against ideology, and we still can’t seem to understand that not everyone has to be like us in order to be a good neighbor. We can disagree and still work together dealing with real threats and not perceived ones.

The days of bolstering our economy through military buildup are over. New solutions must be found, and they won’t be found chasing phantoms. Whenever we chase phantoms, we lose. Phantoms will use our fears against us, and there is no weapon that will stop them.  Like the natural disaster, phantoms and their evil can reach us through even the best protections. Waging a Cold War of containment or annihilation will not stop the phantoms, but will cause us to run ourselves into the ground.

To Be Informed or To Be Educated

The citizens of the United States are distracted by political campaign information. They are embroiled in heated debate over healthcare. They argue about getting rid of the immigrants who long to support our economic and social system when they should be concentrating focus on the dangerous criminals who are the real threat. Therefore, they are missing the warning signs of other problems on the horizon.  One such international problem can be found just across the southern border as Mexicans go to their polls.

It is doubtful the President or the experienced members of congress are distracted from the international problems. Looking outside of the US, one sees that the US is not the only nation struggling with a poor economy, immigration issues, international crime and terrorism. What kind of a future does the US face, if a majority the ‘experienced’ leaders in DC are replaced by a whole new crew of 1st timers? Especially if the only agenda they bring with them is on the US economy, and on the US healthcare, and on the US borders.

The origins of US immigration policies are found in the early 1900’s during the time when isolationism was still being valued as good US policy. Isolationist policies, however, did not prove effective in the early 1900’s, they simply made the US late-comers for two wars for which joining was unavoidable.  In 1942 the internment policy of rounding up anyone “suspicious” was beyond contemptible, but it was policy.  Fear and a tremendous feeling of suffering dictated US domestic and foreign policies in the first half of the 20th century.

However at the same time the US was closing its borders, there was a social push to help its poor and downtrodden citizens.  Labor laws, workers unions, Social Security and legislation similar to the National School Lunch Act, all played a role in post war successes.  Due to economic policies during WWII, employer based health insurance became widely offered as well.   It was determined that prosperity was much easier to achieve if the nation was healthy rather than unhealthy. There was a need for the government to act, and the power of big government began to replace the power of big business.

Now a hundred years later, immigration and health care issues are at the center of US politics again.  Citizens are beginning to fear “others” and focusing on national issues while avoiding international issues.

Progress has been made but fear, misinformation, and “money” backed political theater will not keep the progress moving forward.  Talk of the “good ol’ days” is just talk.  If you are blessed to know survivors of those days, ask them about epidemics, outhouses, food shortages and social inequality.  It is a human trait to reminisce of the ol’ days. Selective memory is common, some prefer focusing on the good and some on the bad.  The citizens of the United States need to evaluate the good and the bad, the effective and the ineffective.

It is sad that with easy access to so much information, so many are misinformed.  A random comment posted concerning an editorial on the Supreme Court Healthcare ruling claimed, “We are becoming like the USSR.”  Many would like to blame this misinformed opinion on a failing educational system, but that would be unfair.  That would be like saying Fox News, or CNN, or MSNBC are to blame for all the ignorance in society. To quote a common saying, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, on that same reasoning, “cable news doesn’t make ignorance, people choose ignorance”.

Ignorance is conquered when an individual seeks information, evaluates the information by comparing it to other information, and then forms an opinion. This is how an individual becomes educated.  This how parents should be teaching their children. This is what voters should be doing before casting a vote.  This is what politicians should encourage.

While some journalists still prescribe to providing information rather than opinion, it is not up to them to educate us.  It is up to the individual to become educated and not simply informed.

Responsibility of Speech

A worry…

Historically other US presidents and politicians have been disliked.  Some have been assassinated, sadly by US citizens.  I am sure hate rhetoric has always been part of US politics and culture. Isn’t it sad that with new media technology, the hate rhetoric of today is recorded for all to see? Is spread by the click of a button? I wonder if studies will now be conducted on how often someone posts, “the president needs to go, and we shouldn’t wait until November”.

These thoughts bring me to another, why is President Obama so disliked? Is it because of his policies?  Is it because he continued the bailouts President Bush started?  Is it because he has not produced a miracle and returned the economy to some undefined economic glory days of the past?  Is it because he didn’t spend all of his youth living in the United States? Is it because his parents’ union would have been against some state laws during a more ignorant past?

Whatever the reason, it makes me worry anytime someone lightly speaks or writes about the death of another.  It especially makes me worry when it is our president.  Only the crude, the ignorant or the anarchist would wish the President of the United States dead. Oh yea, and a few terrorists.

Freedom of Speech is well and good, but responsibility of speech needs to be encouraged more.  Not political correctness but ownership and understanding of what you actually say and spread.  I believe there will be a judgment day, and I suspect that what we say, what we write and what we share with our friends will be on the list of items we must account for to the Almighty.  Passionate debate, strong beliefs and political rhetoric have a place in society, but the crudeness of political speech that is becoming more prevalent, is something we should not support or encourage.

Defend Freedom of Speech, but also promote Decency and Responsibility of Speech.

There Must Be a Better Way

I am deeply saddened that during a time when our youth are being bombarded by so many ill winds, good organizations with a desire to help our youth are under attack.  Sadly too often the attacks come from politically driven individuals who have done little to inform themselves before slandering the organizations.

This, I believe, is the case in the recent attacks on the Girl Scouts of America.  In my blog Entitlement is a Symptom, I discuss the benefits of having a community of loving adults aiding in the development of our youth.  I believe that this is a role in which organizations like Girl Scouts can play a beneficial part.

To read one account of some “scary” activity or association should not make us publicly condemn the whole. Nor should we read an account of something “disagreeable” happening in a worldwide organization with similar name, and assume it applies to our local group.  While everyone has a right to develop their own opinions, it is irresponsible to do a small bit of research, and then publicly criticize and condemn the whole.

When a public leader or politician lashes out at a group like Girl Scouts, the consequences can be far reaching.  In just a few unkind or under-informed words, long term damage can occur.  How sad is it then, when the effects trickle down and a young person in need no longer has available resources to help mold their futures in positive ways.

We are not a nation of “one size fits all” and this especially applies to ideological beliefs.  We do not have to agree with every belief or principle of our neighbor.  Our neighbor should not be labeled as someone evil just because they don’t vote the same way we do.  There is enough real evil in the world without creating the perception of more.

The desire to slander an individual or a group based on our own precepts does not make us good people.  Politicians need to remember that while calling names and slinging ideological mud might temporarily rally supporters, it does not make them likable.  Worse yet, they are acting and sounding like lunatics and giving credibility to hatemongering.  So in the end, their politically driven tirade results in a negative effect on the youth who need the resources provided by Girl Scouts and similar organizations, as well as in the encouragement of the radical ideology of hate.

There must be a better way.

Note:  I considered adding links to articles detailing the nature of these attacks, but there were just too many of them.  If you would like to read them, search “Girl Scouts Under Fire” and you will find many from which to choose.