I went to WeMedia last week and I listened to Al Gore eulogize intelligent public discourse, especially in regards to politics. He was dead on.
What do we talk about as a society?
Runaway brides. A family of 18. One missing white girl in Aruba. iPods.
Once in a while a small group of us very loudly debates Iraq, gay rights, abortion or the death penalty... once in a while. But its far from mainstream.
Why? Because we live in a culture of personal attacks. Political discussion in our country today is devisive. It doesn't seek solutions. Ideas aren't exchanged... they're used to club others over the head. Either you're red or blue. You watch Fox or you read the Times. Screaming ended Howard Dean's run for President. Screaming. We all scream. Fuckin' screaming... No, we don't want a screamer for President. We pointed fingers and were agast. In that world, what politician in their right mind would ever be transparent about their actual beliefs versus what a strategest told them pissed off the fewest people?
When's the last time you got into a political debate with someone where you actually felt like they a) were listening to your point b) were open enough to new ideas to actually have a change of changing their mind or c) didn't constantly bash you over the head with a canned comeback like, "but Kerry was a flip flopper" or "Bush is an idiot."
This has got to stop. We're not getting anywhere. I don't know if we just personalize everything to the point where we can't even think clearly or seek solutions but I think its choking our culture and dumbing us down.
It really came to a head for me personally on the issue of gay rights. I'm quite sure what I'm about to write will anger somebody but that's kind of the point. Instead of getting into an open, calm, exchange with me, I'm sure I'll just get called a name or just generally accussed.
One of my fundamental core philosophies is that everyone needs to make lifestyle decisions on their own, but moreover they need to accept that what's right for them isn't necessarily what's right for everyone. In order to have your choices respected, you need to respect the decisions of others. I learned that from a girl who does fetish modeling now. Go figure.
That's how I feel about gay rights. If two consenting adults want to get married, that's fine with me. They should love each other and think it through, and not waste money on expensive food at the wedding that no one ever eats anyway. I don't want to tell anyone who not to marry the same way I don't want to be told who not to marry.
Therefore, I disagree with the president... the guy that I voted for. The marriage amendment is ridiculous and I thought it was ridiculous when I voted for him. I didn't vote on morals, though, the way some pundits tell me that we all voted. I didn't believe that morals were on trial. Maybe I'm just not politically savvy, but I honestly didn't believe that such an amendment would ever pass, so, to me, it was kind of a non-issue. I also don't think Roe vs. Wade would ever get overturned either, regardless of how I feel about it. (For the record, I'm against unwanted kids... my personal preference for eliminating unwanted kids is through education, protection, etc... my utopia is where no one gets an abortion because there are no unwanted pregnancies. I wouldn't vote to overturn it, but I don't really like it... overturning doesn't solve the unwanted kid problem.)
don't support a national law allowing gay marriage either *correction: I don't think a national law right now at this very second as the way to get to the goal of national support of gay marriage, because too many parts of this country just aren't ready for it*, and this is where its all going to break down. This is the statement that will get people yelling at me and upset some people that I'm close to and some other people I'm really fond of. What's going to happen is that their personal views are going to cloud their ability to actually listen to my reasoning, be open to my ideas, and respect them. I'll just get lashouts and that doesn't accomplish jack. That stifles me. That makes me not want to discuss it and when we're not discussing it--not identifying causes, exchanging ideas, understanding we're just going to succumb to atrophy and apathy and move backwards as a society.
But, well, fuck it, here goes:
I want to see gay marriage get nationally accepted, but in a peaceful way. I hate division and that's why I hate politics. I feel like the best way to do that is state by state. I feel like, just a few years from now, all the "blue" states will have ok'd it... and that will be the tipping point, because of how interconnected our society is. When half of the states are marrying gays, we'll see a gay marriage on television, just like when Ellen came out. Remember, Ellen came out on TV just a few years ago and now? Well, jeez, the whole damn country loves her and why not? She's the blue fish in Finding Nemo... she speaks whale! Put a really likeable gay married couple in a sitcom and boom, there go the rest of the dominoes. Maybe it takes ten years... but what you won't have is bussing from the late 50's.
I watch those videos of black teens getting bussed into white schools and the hate that it generated and I feel like that's what's going to happen with a federal mandate on gay marriage. Do you think Arkansas is going to take well to federally legalized gay marriage? Personally, I think they'll take better to it if it just kind of seeps unnoticed into their hyperconnected media culture without them realizing it. Sure, ideally they'd all be ok with it on day one, but the reality is that they're not. Why force them if they'll just get assimilated by the next generation of MySpacers, IMers--kids who have friends all over the world who grow up digitally tolerant/agnostic about such things.
What sucks is that I've yet to be abliged in an intelligent exchange on this. No one who believes in a federal gay marriage support law has been willing to just level with me, be open to my points and show/explain (not cry/yell) theirs. And of course, it happens both ways. Its not like people who are against it have been that open to sitting down and having a dialogue on it either.
Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps I'm misguided. I didn't say I was right. I said this was what I believed, and as an analyst, I'm a truth seeker. Show me where my logic is flawed, but don't cry out because of what I believe and refuse to engage me. If you just say, "I can't believe you think like that, I can't even talk to you" what good does that to? How does that solve anything? Help me ask the right questions of myself and the world around me.
We're making it so that people are afraid to admit how they really feel. They're afraid to say, "Hey, I'm wearing khaki's today, not because I'm anti-gay, but because I just don't want my clothing to become somebody else's political rallying tool, regardless of whether I agree with them or not."
So, if you want to talk and discuss, feel free. Let's share ideas... change/influence each other's perspective--something different than what goes on with most poltical blogs. Most political blogs aren't true conversations, they're either love-ins for people who all think the same way or targets for people who disagree. Where's the conversation there? Do you spend more time debating others to affect them or debating internally with yourself because you're actually affected by what someone else said?
We might disagree, but if you can't respect the fact that we disagree, this isn't going to go anywhere...