September 15, 2006

Politics and the Way of the Backpeddler

Have you ever done something and then wondered why you just did that? I do it all the time. I'm a fairly avid backpeddler - I say, do, think, and feel stuff all the time that I often regret. I was the kid who mom always had to ask "why did you say that?" The whole "think before you speak" lesson never sank in so well. I'm not entirely sure if this is normal or not, but I feel like even if it is, I do it more often than the average person.

The reason I like writing so much is that you can edit what you write after days of thinking about it. You can look at it from every angle, pondering possible reactions from people. I feel like I keep more friends that way. I say stuff all the time that is offensive and rude, mostly because it never occurred to me that it might be offensive; in fact, if somebody points out to me "that's offensive because ___", I'll often be so increadibly sorry that I say something else stupid. I don't mean to, and I'm not a malicious person at heart, I just don't think fast enough to keep up with my mouth.

But even writing has its limits. I wrote a
post on politics the other day out of sheer frustration. I don't remember editing it very much before I posted it; it was posted in a fit of sheer emotion. Part of the reason I'm writing about it now is that I need to make something very clear: that post was more about equality and fairness than it was about my own views. I'm not a huge Bush fan, but I also don't hate him; but I do hate politics right up there with beetroot, squash, and the crud on the bottom of the pool.

I suppose that, on some level, I'd really like to "retract" what I wrote just because more people might like me, but on another level, I look at it and see nothing particularly wrong with it. It's not a representation of my political views, just of a few thoughts I had.

And so I present my limited political views, for your amusement. Maybe this clears the air, but feel free to disagree with me. I know politics gets a lot of people riled up a bit (and in my family, we usually have a rule that we don't talk politics, lest it create an air of tension around the dinner table), and so please try to take it in stride that these views are mostly in-progress and subject to the swing of my mood. Please don't be offended: chances are I like you, and so remember my innocence and obliviousness when you think about smacking me one the next time we meet.

Politics with Chris

1. Bush seems like a nice guy. I don't agree with lots of things he says, or the way he says them. But all in all, he seems fairly nice. Clinton seemed fairly nice too. So did Ralph Nader. I didn't particularly enjoy the whole Lewinsky thing, but then again, I don't much like the Iraq war either. I don't think anybody likes death or lies. Some things, however, are out of my control, and at least Bush is honest about the stuff he does that I don't like. The thing that DOES bug me, though, is when people talk about stuff with seemingly "well-formed opinions" that they really know little to nothing about. I have a rule: don't trust the media for your news.

2. Religion and State mix funny. I think when religious people try to make laws (especially fundamentalists - and let's be clear, atheists are just as religious as muslims and christians), they screw the whole process up. For example, I am pro choice, but not in the way that most people define it. I think that you shouldn't have an abortion - it's killing a life, a life you created and are responsible for. However, I don't have a right to tell you what to do, any more than you have a right to force me to do anything. I think that trying to put into law so many bans and all that (the bans on gay marriage, abortion, stem-cell research, etc.) is just creating problems for everybody, and nobody listens to people they don't like. I sure don't. Forcing somebody "not to sin" isn't much good - they still wanted to do it, and ultimately, their choices are not on my hands.

3. The environment is important. I don't like the idea of drilling for oil in Alaska; there's a lot of cool stuff there that I haven't gotten to see yet, and I'd really like to! I also don't much like war - it also destroys the environment, and people. SUVs and volcanos and Trucks and trains and people littering all destroy the environment. I recyle as best I can, and I use public transport. Human beings and are symbiotes with this world, and we have to realize that what we do affects us in lots of ways. But when it comes down to it, if I had to choose between my wife or kids or some stranger and a squirrel or deer or horse or plant, I think I'd have to choose the person. But I really like what Google is doing now - to think, somebody is trying to do something for everybody else at their own expense ...

4. I'm not sure where to put myself on a political spectrum. Some issues - the environent, for example - put me fairly left. Others put me towards the right. I guess I'm not really a person that likes the categories to begin with (because no one category will ever get it 100% correct), but I do have to decide, and so I sort of pick and choose my side depending on each issue. I'm just as likely to vote Republican as I am to vote Democrat or Green or Conservative or Liberal.

5. You can disagree with me as much as you like - that's the beauty of freedom. Just know that you're not allowed to disagree with me violently. Attacking me is not your right; nor is it mine to attack you for your views. But at the same time, sticking up for those whose rights are being violated is also a value worth exploring. Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan, India - in so many places, those in power oppress those that are weak, and I think that maybe those of us who can do something about it should. War is a quick fix, I guess, but it often just breeds more discontent, more war, more hate, and starts a downward spiral that won't be easily remedied. That, and it's hard to negotiate with people who are already trying to kill you and anybody that doesn't think like they do.

To be perfectly honest, there's a good reason I avoid politics as often as I can: it's about making decisions for a lot of people that all disagree with one another, a job that I do not envy. I think that anybody who gets into politics is just as likely to be getting into it for their own interests as for the interests of others, and it's nearly impossible to tell the difference - they all speak so nicely.

I've probably just alienated half my reading audience, but I thought maybe that might clear the air. Feel free to try and persuade me to another viewpoint; I promise I'll think about what you say. I guess I try to be open-minded about stuff, and I really just like people and individuals a lot more than large groups. It's easier to talk to an individual.

1 comment:

A. Annie said...

Just to lighten things up, here's a bit from comedian Mike Birbiglia:

"I think Bush seems like that fun guy. You know, that guy you invite to the barbecue because you know he'll start the whiffle ball game. He's like Whiffle Ball Tony! You're like, 'Yeah, Whiffle Ball Tony's here! Alright, alright. This is cool.' And then one day, somebody's like, 'We're gonna put Tony in charge of EVERYTHING.' And I'm like, 'We are? I dunno if that's such a good idea.' Because he's very competitive. He starts going to the neighbor's lawn and challenges them to Whiffle Ball. He's like, 'I heard you wanna play Whiffle Ball, b******!' And they're like, 'We never said that!' But he starts chucking hamburgers at them. We're like, 'Tony! What are you doing, man!?' He's like, 'They were gonna chuck hamburgers at me!' Then it turns out that they don't even have hamburgers! They have hot dogs, but they only throw them at each other, so it's cool. Then people get upset and they're like, 'Well, maybe we should've gone with Bookworm Steve... but he's so boring!' Then one guy's like, 'What about me? What about Ralph?' And we're like, 'Shut up, Ralph. This is no time for jokes.'
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