Are You Political ?

politics This post is a huge departure for me. I normally use news clips, personal commentary, and spiritual quotes to address the issues of our culture.

I work hard to keep the discussion valid for a global audience even though I live in the United States of America.


Well, today, in America, the news is all political, all presidential, all pervasive…

I’m sitting in my favorite café and will attempt to do some “live” blogging—writing without forethought, as events unfold. I’m not going to cover what’s happening on the TV but what’s happening with the people around me…

Here goes!

It’s quarter to six and the only people in the café are me, a woman getting ready for a Mary Kay meeting in the back room, and Sam, the owner. Sam just said he hopes to finish his work soon so he can sit on the couch, in front of the big-screen TV, and “get involved”…

Another patron arrives and promptly settles on the couch and begins working on his personal letter-writing…

Five till six: Two more patrons, getting ready to play a war-game…

Five after six: Talk is starting to percolate—”when will the pundits start projecting a winner…?”

Sam just made a personal pronouncement about why this election will be a nail-biter: the candidates are so radically different—not politically but as far as their characters are concerned.

{ personal aside: I hope readers in countries other than America will make comments on this post ! }

Five till Seven: Sam is on the couch!

Five after seven: The war-game is heating up and Sam looks happy with the first projections.

{personal aside: the confrontational, partisan rhetoric from the television is starting to get to me…}

Seven-thirty: Both couches inhabited; it’s starting to warm up…

Eight-fifteen: Laptop in use on the couch; spirited discussion begins; the couples playing games start a new one…

Eight-thirty-five: Cell phones in use; discussion tones down…

Nine-ten: Some folks are heading home to sleep; willing to see what happened in the morning…

Nine-thirty: Much discussion of the difference between the various projections of the winner—MSNBC, Fox, Google…

{personal aside: Amazing how excited people can get over media projections…}

Eleven o’clock: Obama projected as winner; one women running outside, cell phone to ear; the rest of the folks look a bit shocked; then, most everyone leaves the cafe…

McCain concedes with impeccable grace while his followers shout rude comments, Jesse Jackson in tears, and three people remain in the café…

Obama gives acceptance speech…

My enduring impression will be the blending of skin color on the stage and the hope of human harmony as Joe Biden joins him and the two families stream in while Mr. Obama clearly shows how humbled he feels to be elevated to a position of leadership in our crisis-riddled world…

Spiritual Quote:

“…the breeding-ground of all these tragedies is prejudice: prejudice of race and nation, of religion, of political opinion; and the root cause of prejudice is blind imitation of the past—imitation in religion, in racial attitudes, in national bias, in politics. So long as this aping of the past persisteth, just so long will the foundations of the social order be blown to the four winds, just so long will humanity be continually exposed to direst peril.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 247

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Games That Can Kill Us . . .

So many dangerously childish actions in the world political drama. For sheer silliness (which could blossom into rank trauma) the American Presidential campaign is a sad example.

From AlterNet: Top 10 Idiocies of the General Election … So Far

From the Los Angeles Times: John McCain, Barack Obama spar over ‘celebrity’

From CNN: McCain, Obama ad wars heat up

So, with all this dangerous silliness, why has the American public not used its Constitutional power to elect sane and sober leaders?

* Attachment to materialistic living and not caring too much what happens?

* Not being sufficiently educated about the issues?

* In a state of cultural shock?

Well, even if every malady of the American electorate were healed, their vote would still not guarantee that their political wishes came true. Ever heard of the Electoral College? This institution separates the popular vote from the election results. Plus, it has happened that the voice of the people was overridden by the electoral process . . .

Still, even if the people had their say, who are the people? Are they exemplary citizens, educated and compassionate?

I’m afraid I’m veering off into a rant so I’ll close this discussion {still hoping for your comments!} with today’s spiritual quotes:

“How incalculable have been the negative results of ill-directed criticism: in the catastrophic divergences it has created in religion, in the equally contentious factions it has spawned in political systems, which have dignified conflict by institutionalizing such concepts as the “loyal opposition” which attach to one or another of the various categories of political opinion —conservative, liberal, progressive, reactionary, and so forth.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1988 Dec 29, Individual Rights and Freedoms, p. 9

“The aggressiveness and competitiveness which animate a dominantly capitalist culture; the partisanship inherent in a fervidly democratic system; the suspicion of public-policy institutions and the skepticism towards established authority ingrained in the political attitude of the people and which trace their origins to the genesis of American society; the cynical disregard of the moderating principles and rules of civilized human relationships resulting from an excessive liberalism and its immoral consequences—such unsavory characteristics inform entrenched habits of American life…”
The Universal House of Justice, 1994 May 19, response to US NSA

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Where’s The Party ?

Today I’ll look at the mechanics of the American presidential election but also elections, in general, from the global perspective.

From OneWorld.Net: Amnesty Int’l Focuses on Americans’ Voting Rights
“Under Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to participate in government and open elections…”
“Amnesty and other groups taking part in the voter registration drive fear that millions of Americans may not be able to cast their ballots in the presidential polls if certain shortcomings in the current electoral system are not addressed before the presidential polls in November.”

From The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

From About.com-US Government Info: The Electoral College System
“When you vote for a presidential candidate you are really voting to instruct the electors from your state to cast their votes for the same candidate.”
“Each elector gets one vote.”
“While the state electors are ‘pledged’ to vote for the candidate of the party that chose them, nothing in the Constitution requires them to do so.”
“Critics of the Electoral College system, of which there are more than a few, point out that the system allows the possibility of a candidate actually losing the nationwide popular vote, but being elected president by the electoral vote. Can that happen? Yes, and it has.”

Hmmm… Government of, by, and for the People? The U.S. population is a bit over 301 million people; the Electoral College system has 538 people . . .

It could be argued that the United States election process is the best possible system. It could also be argued that the moon is made of green cheese.

My Faith counsels us to “…obey the government under which [we] live…”, it also counsels that people should “under no circumstances suffer their inner religious beliefs and convictions to be violated and transgressed by any authority whatever.”

Tough call, eh? No matter what I think about the government and its procedures, I should obey it, yet never abandon my inner convictions.

It may sound totally ridiculous yet, in my opinion, it’s based on the principle that not resisting the wrong will make it stand out all the more. If we argue and contend, we muddy the issues. If the issues are muddy, how can we clearly decide what will actually work. If we obey a wrong decision we can aid a process that will make it utterly, clearly wrong. Then, clear corrections can happen.

Some may say, “Who me suffer, just to aid some distant, just decision?”

Well… What if the distant, just decision aids your children or grandchildren?

Unbelievably, that’s a tough call for some folk . . .

“…we are concerned at the lack of leadership over a wide spectrum of human affairs. At national, regional, and international levels, within communities and in international organizations, in governments and in non-governmental bodies, the world needs credible and sustained leadership.
‘It needs leadership that is proactive, not simply reactive, that is inspired, not simply functional, that looks to the longer term and future generations for whom the present is held in trust. It needs leaders made strong by vision, sustained by ethics, and revealed by political courage that looks beyond the next election.’
“This cannot be leadership confined within domestic walls. It must reach beyond country, race, religion, culture, language, life-style. It must embrace a wider human constituency, be infused with a sense of caring for others, a sense of responsibility to the global neighborhood.”

Report of the Commission on Global Governance, Our Global Neighborhood. (New York: Oxford University Press. 1995.) p.353.
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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