Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Intention

I’ve been sick for a few days. Probably bad allergies, but maybe a cold. I felt pretty awful for a couple of days, and I lost my voice. Monday and Tuesday I could barely whisper. Even though I don’t necessarily like being sick and I have a lot of things to do this week, this was actually welcome. Mostly, I was glad to not speak. It sounds kind of weird, but there is something about it that brings solitude. You can’t speak, so you don’t. It’s irritating for others to try and talk to you, so they don’t. It’s not really that bad! For me, losing my speaking voice also seems to make the voices in my head shut up. The voices that constantly remind me of my list of things to do, or the voices that are mulling over problems…whatever. I’ve spent the last couple of days decorating my house for Christmas, taking naps, cooking for Thanksgiving and watching movies. And in all of that there is this sense of slowing down. Certainly, not feeling well contributes but it’s more than that. I’m a BIG fan of alone time, solitude, and being still. I need those things in my life; they feed my soul in deep places. But the last few days have been thinking more about just slowing down. Solitude is nice, but not scrambling through each and every day racing from one thing to another may bring even greater serenity. The fast-paced lifestyle seems to be the American way. And I do it well most of the time even without even realizing. I eat fast for absolutely no reason at all. Or I hurry up and water the plants (even though it’s 60 degree outside with beautiful sunshine) so I can get back inside and….do the next thing? I long to live my life with deliberateness and intention. Sometimes I do, or at least better than I used to. But most of the time I run on autopilot. What a gift we can give ourselves…to be in the present moment. It’s a wonderful thing to eat your dinner slowly while visiting with friends or family, or to walk slowly to the mailbox, or to really take the time to enjoy the morning’s 1st cup of coffee before the day gets started. I’m not sure how one undoes the American Way of hurry up, I just know that I feel better and enjoy life so much more when I slow down.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A response to the editor

I received an anonymous comment yesterday from a man who says he is the editor of the student newspaper at the University of Texas. I’ve decided to respond to some of the comments, as well as elaborate on some of my thoughts. I would like to say that I’m not a politician, economist, historian, data-head or news junkie. In the world of politics, I’m very green. I’m also a believer. I strive to live my life by the teachings of Jesus and to follow what he said is the greatest commandment, “To love the Lord with all you heart, soul, mind and strength. And to love your neighbor as yourself.”
My hope for myself, as well as others, is that I take the interest I have found in this Presidential race and carry it to the State and Local levels. With that disclaimer, please read on taking what you like and leave the rest.

Dear S,

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Though I don’t agree with many of the perspectives you offer, I’m happy to have a conversation. I won’t respond directly to some of the specific points that you made, but will mostly elaborate on my overall essay to clarify any misunderstandings.

One thing I will address directly is your #1 statement. Since I didn’t mention what 2007 interview I referred to, it’s a bold statement to say that I misquoted him. With that being said, let me make 3 points:
1) It was probably generous of me to use quotations around something he said since I do not remember exactly the words he used. The essence of what he discussed though, I believe I understand him clearly.
2) I am completely aware of his political stance on abortion, as well as his voting record.
3) To answer your # 5 statement, my answer is “Yes.” I completely agree with his discussion about abortion being a complex issue without clear-cut defining answers. (Though I do have big concerns about certain aspects of his abortion stance such as partial-birth or late term abortions). I think it a crying shame that this issue has become a political platform in our country. In my opinion, this isn’t a political issue at all. Yet, we force our leaders of government to choose one side or the other. I have dealt with this issue in my own family. I have seen and experienced the magnitude this challenge brings to the mother, father and their respective families. Therefore, I don’t form this decision out of isolated ideology, but out of many different factors including real life experience. I agree that the voices of the unborn must have advocacy. We must have boundaries…thus the role of government. I believe in the sanctity of life…of all life (I refer to issues such as war, death penalty and poverty). However, it my firm opinion that it is not the role of the government to tell me or any other woman what we can and cannot do with our body. I’ll stop here on this issue as I don’t want this letter to focus totally on abortion, but I heard you asking for my opinion of Obama’s stance on this issue. This is a tough issue for me, one that I have great inner struggle with from a political standpoint and then from a standpoint of being a believer...a believer in the God who created ALL life. Perhaps my views will change one day, but for today this is where I am.

The other specific thing I will address is my statement of having “firsthand knowledge of discrimination.” Perhaps I give myself too much credit here for seeing and understanding racism from arms length. I am a white woman. No matter how black friends I have, no matter how unjust I judge black Americans to be treated at times, no matter how much embarrassment I feel for some of the history in our country towards blacks…I will never understand. It’s just not possible. For that reason alone, perhaps the wisest course for me to take is to just not comment. I’ll give this consideration. I had this same feeling about all the news regarding Reverend Wright and his church earlier in the year. I’m not black, I’m not a black person in a black church, and therefore I have absolutely no business judging what is said among that community. So, my friend, if my attempt to speak towards racism is offensive to you, I offer my deepest apologies.

Beyond your first statement, I don’t have any interest in addressing your other comments specifically. I don’t think it’s worth my time, or serves a good purpose. Especially, your #4 statement. Frankly, I think it’s repulsive that you even say such a thing out loud. Not to mention undermining the intelligence and good intent of that 93%...though I haven’t yet seen this number reported. Instead, I would like to attempt to clarify my overall sentiments. First of all, I did not vote for Obama because he is black. Based on CNN polls as far back as June and as recent as last week, I’m not alone. In short, their numbers report that 7 out of 10 voters did NOT vote based on race. You can read this report for yourself at http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/24/poll.race/. I’m sure there are many people who did vote for him simply because he’s black, just as there are people who voted for McCain because they would never vote for a Democrat or vice versa. I unequivocally disagree with your statement, “This man was not voted in due to the content of his character..but was judged by the color of his skin. Period.” This is a statement of opinion, a narrow-minded opinion as far as I’m concerned, and certainly not one based on civility much less fact. I believe I did exactly what Reverend King spoke of, and I know many, many other people that did the same…that we ”judged (a person) not on the color of their skin but (among many other things) on the content of their character.”

In my closing paragraph, I spoke of the great pride I feel this week. Let me be clear once again, I am not saying that my pride simply comes from for voting for a black man. I’m proud because of what is one of the largest voter turn-out in US history. I’m proud of the all the 1st-time voters. I’m proud of America for giving a damn about this process. I’m proud of all Americans… black, white, gay, straight, Democrat, Republican, rich poor....for, at least, striving to be the United States. Certainly there is not unity in policy, but I do believe (and perhaps I’m na├»ve and idealistic) that we have unity in purpose. I believe that all Americans want the very best for our country, and our families. THAT, if only that, can be our common ground. This can be the common ground that makes a path for the greater good.

So, “S,” please…take a break from the divisive rhetoric. Please, do everyone a favor and find a place to be grateful for the wonderful freedom that you enjoy regardless who leads this country.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Defining Moment

Last night was a powerful moment in US history. The headlining news of every media channel world-wide has announced the election of America’s first African-American President. I tuned into FoxNews last night just in time to hear Brit Hume call the results for California, and thus, call the election for Barack Obama. I felt such joy and pride, and as I wrote to a fellow Facebook friend, I was speechless.

I voted for Senator Obama. It’s the 1st time in 22 years of being eligible to vote that I voted for a Democrat. This was no small departure for me. And there are those among my family and friends that are quite disappointed. I began paying attention to Obama last year after hearing an interview with him. The journalist asked him about his thoughts on abortion. He first said, “It’s a complex issue. One that is doesn’t have simple answers.” He went on to talk about how he was still working out this issue for himself, both as a politician and a private citizen. It was the 1st time I could recall a politician give something other than a clear black and white answer….for anything. For him to acknowledge the complexity of such an issue (it could have been any issue) and to say publically that he’s still sorting things out…for me, that was impressive. So, I began to listen. And then begin educate myself on one issue, then another. Listening and research morphed into curiosity, then into conversations. I am among the throngs of people who, for the first time, have found interest (dare I say even excitement?!) in politics. There were many others interviews, speeches, and debates to follow that solidified my vote. Though some around me have challenged my opinions, I believe I followed due diligence of research…and my heart.

My generation has many souls that have made their indelible mark on our country….Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Barbara Jordan and Cesar Chavez to name a few. Perhaps it is premature to put Obama’s name along side of these great people. Yet, I hear in him and see in the work he done up to this point a perspective on life, community, democracy, and government that sets him apart from the crowd. I want that, and need that in a President. He is a fine and gifted orator. And while that doesn’t qualify him to be president, it does pave a way to speak to people of all backgrounds. His words inspire. Again, not a qualification for a world leader, but inspiration is a powerful medium. Inspiration can give people the opportunity to have a different perspective. Inspiration can be a catalyst for courage, risk-taking and dreaming. I think, in part, that is what America did yesterday.

It makes me proud that our country has taken a grand step forward in bridging the gap between the different races our country is home to. (For a wonderful visual aid, checkout my friend
Bob’s blog ) The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s was not that long ago. And having TJ live with us during the last 4 years, I have witnessed firsthand the discrimination toward blacks that still exist in the 21st century. At times, I have been appalled and ashamed. But there was no shame in yesterday’s election. I speak of my pride and excitement, though with some hesitancy. There is a part of me that feels like I’m watching something great from the outside. I’m witnessing the fruition from generations of struggle and dreams of a people whose skin is a different color than mine. Though it’s a day for all Americans, it certainly is quite special for my black brothers and sisters. Boundaries and ceilings have been removed. Black Americans have a path for all the opportunities of this great country has to offer. Opportinuties that perhaps I take for granted. This man has given our country and all it's citizens a great gift. I hope one day to meet him. I hope to shake his hand and say thank you.

This is a great, great day for our country and our world. America, I’m proud of you. Not for voting for a Democrat. I’m proud of you, America, for caring. I’m proud of you for dreaming, whoever you voted for. I’m proud of all Americans for taking part in the beautiful gift of democracy we have in this country.

As President Elect Obama said in his speech last night, “This is a defining moment.”