Friday, August 31, 2012

I've Been Thinking...

I have taken a couple of months off from writing. It was more accident than intention – busy-ness collided with overwhelm to result in a kind of free floating randomness to the summer. Not altogether a bad thing. But not conducive to the regular posting I had hoped for. Part of the problem, at least as I rationalize it in the rear-view mirror, was the piling on of things about which I wanted to write – but wasn’t quite sure what I thought. I am trying to let the writing follow the thinking – not always with complete success – but that means thinking faster when life happens faster. And life has been moving pretty fast this summer! So, herewith, a couple of random things I’ve been thinking…

It is somewhat surprising to me that a man as smart and as politically savvy as Dan Cathy was not a bit more circumspect in his statements in response to the questions of an interviewer from a small Christian radio station. Surely he knows the ubiquity of words once spoken in the highly politicized, media rich environment he does business and lives in. Don’t get me wrong – he has the right to his opinions, and the right to speak those opinions. But he does not have the right – nor do his supporters – to be surprised when those opposed to his views make use of the very same right to speak and act in opposition! It seems to me that the issue in question – and I’m not talking chikin – is clearly known to be so polarizing, that any statement from either side needs to be carefully considered. If the desire is to effect the outcome, it is probably not going to be by making public statements. There is, at least it seems to me, little chance of a controlled burn in the tinder-dry context of this matter. It is time for the exercise of responsibility, not just rights. And, perhaps, for relationship before either.

In other news – nothing new. I am learning nothing of the positions of either candidate for the presidency – except that the other guy would be a disaster for the country, the world, and the universe. Whoever the other guy is. It is sad that, in an age of almost universal media coverage that could be used for so much helpful analysis of real differences, we are being fed – by the campaigns and their mainstream and cable media outlets – sound bites of terror, caricatures of opposing positions, to say nothing of distortions and outright lies made all the more egregious because it is all fueled by virtually unregulated SuperPACs with their own agendas, not always visible or understood. Is this really the best we can do? Really? If so, the future of  public political discourse – whoever wins – is not promising. We can save ourselves a lot of time and money by just writing tomorrow’s headlines today. “President A says “X.” Opposition leader B says “Not X.” It leads to the political mathematics of nullification. If A=X and B=-X then A+B=0.

I was grateful for the decision by both campaigns to at least suspend their campaigning in the wake of the “Dark Night” shootings in Aurora earlier this summer – although, cynic that I am about most things political during this silly season, I’m sure the political ramifications of doing so occasioned more than a single conversation and not a little heated debate, including discussions on how it might be spun for political advantage. Everytime I hear about shootings of this kind (they are becoming common enough that the plural is justified), I find myself wondering when we might at least be able to talk about limiting access to the weapons that enable such devastation to only those who have a demonstrated need for them. Surely the founders did not have this in mind when they codified the right of individuals not in the military to keep weapons for the purpose of self-defense. This, of course, made sense in a time when random invading armies and personal militias had little regard for borders. And if we can’t yet talk about some kind of gun control, can we at least talk about ammunition control? How can it be a good thing for the common good that massive amounts of single-purpose ammunition is available for purchase over the internet? It is probably just me, but I am thinking that anyone who really needs these kinds of bullets is probably not going to be ordering them on internet!

Still on Aurora, I salute the men and women whose stories of self-sacrificing bravery are still emerging. That kind of instant, almost instinctive courage – bravery, even – in the face of what must have felt like certain death gives me a sense of hope for my fellow human beings. There are those of us who would lay down their lives for friends, family – even strangers. There is still something of Image in us.

Anyway, it might have been better to let these thinkings fade with the summer heat. But, where’s the fun in that? Hopefully, I have exercised my right to be wrong in a responsible manner.