Tag Archives: humanity

Politics Suck – Embrace Humanity

Here in the US many folks are embroiled in one of two things: football – and the atrocious calls the replacement refs are making – and political theater.  For once I’m not offended or too annoyed with the football discussions.  This is, perhaps, one of the first times in my adult life where I can honestly say the political conversation is so absurd folks might as well be talking about something as ineffectual and non life altering as a sport they don’t play.  The conversations are rarely about anything substantive with chants of “MY guy/team is better than YOUR guy/team” blaring all over cyber space en masse.

While today I’m slightly more angry and frustrated than I am sad, my words in a recent interview are what stand clearly in my awareness:

The question of “who does this law/regulation hurt” is ignored in favor of the unacknowledged favoritism of a certain group or individual over another. Penalizing law abiding citizens is rather like playing favorites with your children. It hurts an innocent for no good reason other than the self-imposed, self-permitted prejudice.  This is so very sad to me.

This can be said the world over – no matter your politics, nationality, or religion – politics has done what, in my opinion, it was always meant to do: Separate people.  Not from each other necessarily (although between religion and politics this happens a great deal), but each individual from their own humanity.  The conversation during elections isn’t about how one can help another person, about how a politician or party’s actions is bent toward penalizing some individuals simply because of income, sexual orientation, race, gender or, worse in the case of US, geographic locale that permits bombing and drone attacks.  They’re all about the champions each of us has selected and how they’re better or worse than someone else’s.  And as so many of us do this we believe we’re supporting who/what we need to because of humanity while in actuality we eschew it in favor of rhetoric and the misplaced hope that a lesser evil is some sort of good.  The argument is about how to decorate the 90th floor of a skyscraper without ever having looked to see the steel encasing it was brittle.

The hard questions, those we need to ask ourselves, go unanswered.  Questions like – Why do I believe someone who makes more money than me/my family should pay a higher percentage of their income (when the same percentage of their income paid in taxes is more than what I pay)?  What is “fair”?  Why do I think going to war is a good idea?  Why do I want to send others to do it when I’m not willing to sign up?  If I sign up why should I make others pay my salary and weapons when they’re so against anyone, me or my enemies, killing/dying?  Why do I not want “these” people to die?  Why do I want “those” people to die?

In each and every question lies a piece of our own humanity.  With each answer we reclaim more of it.

The rhetoric surrounding the pundit of choice can and will only ever reflect that which the majority of most individuals are willing to confront.  It’s time each person takes a step back, looks into themselves, and asks the hard questions.  Until then each election will bring out more of the same: reflections of the bigotry, resentment, and fear each voter is afraid to confront within themselves.  Without these things a de facto aristocracy could not be tolerated.  Without them the dialogue changes.  Lesser of evils will be viewed as evil and not permissable.  Solutions will come from people, not systems.  Our fellow human beings will exist in our minds and hearts without or apart from the previously prescribed labels.  We will trust our own judgments based upon the ethics each of us have thought of and fought ourselves to have and in so doing will be able to evaluate candidates based upon records, facts.  Change the dialogue and forget politics.  Remember your humanity and, by extension, that of others – even if you disagree with them.

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Atrocities: Deification and Vilification

Americans recalled and held dear the memory of a day that shaped their country; wounded and scarred by an attack on their own soil.  I am one such person.  Like many such pivotal moments in history September 11th is a day that is forever etched into my memory.  The heartache, the fear and the desperate need of being close to those I loved and who loved me was all encompassing that day.  There is nothing in me that requires the belief that those lost were good and innocent for me to mourn them, just as there is no impetus for me to believe in the evil of those individuals who hijacked the planes.  To do either is, to my way of thinking, nothing short of an abomination to the memory of all.

When one chooses to raise people on top of a pedestal that individual has lost something.  It’s not the anonymity that I’m addressing here, although that certainly can and often does apply in our media saturated culture, but rather what happens when someone becomes a symbol.  There is a separation that can occur – symbol from humanity.  This also applies to individuals who are vilified.  A need to believe in the exceptional natures both in those who commit heroic and despicable acts.  Individuals with such firm focus and drive as to complete such things do seem to be rare in the grand scheme of the world, but that exception is noted as compared to other human beings.

The most heroic symbol I can think of is the way many view our men and women in the armed services.  While I have my own views of what the military symbolizes, what it embodies and entails, to me that is a separate matter.  The PEOPLE, though, are still that to me.  Human beings who, at least in this present environment, chose to enlist.  All people in the military are not the same, the capabilities varied just as much as they are in the general population, but they have one very defining characteristic besides their membership and participation in a group employed by the government.  They’re people.  Not heroes, not idols, not deities.  People.

In the vilifying category there are of course many historical examples.  Hitler is the most prominent modern villain with Mao getting lumped in there somewhere as well while still Lenin and Stalin either get ignored or viewed the same way.  I do not say these names lightly and without knowledge of their despicable and horrifying actions.  I do say it with complete ownership that these individuals were also people and that as such they need to be viewed with eyes that see them as such.

What separates all these people?  What makes them, their motivations, their ethics so very different from each other?  From us?  This is the question I find to be lacking when we start terming people as evil or hero.  The learning process is shirked to take time to worship or hate.  No lesson is brought forth, very few salient and vital pieces of information brought up, for analysis and philosophical thought all resulting in missed opportunity.  This loss, to my way of thinking, is more than not seeing capabilities in ourselves that could turn us down either path but in hindering how people are treated.  Through viewing uniformed men and women as heroes we are missing their individual assets, their limitations…  their humanity.

The exceptional acts committed are diminished through hero worship.  We expect heroes to act a certain way, to accomplish certain fetes, but not so with other human beings.  When we expect the outstanding it becomes not such an outstanding thing but rather something that is standard, normal and not necessarily held with high as high of esteem as when we view it from the perspective that a human, or a group of them, accomplished something brilliant.  Through history three dimensional people are subverted into two dimensional form: Albert Einstein’s intellect is amazing and out of the stratosphere while knowing how he walked the Earth, what his struggles were as he persevered to brilliant deductions are left out of the equation; Hitler is evil with amazing powers that convinced a whole lot of people to take part in great atrocities, while economic and psychological motivations are overlooked.  How can we truly respect or appreciate acts of greatness without acknowledging the human limitations that apply to all with the appropriate genetic make up?  When a person’s humanity is injured in the process of doing something we term as great how can we treat it if we don’t consider that aspect of them first?  What lessons can we learn through history if all those malevolent forces are deemed as evil and the entire picture that impacts and comprises the entirety of the human experience are left on the wayside?

We can’t.

Admittedly, inspiration for this post came from a movie that didn’t get enough consideration or touting in the media (in my not so humble opinion):  In the Valley of Elah.  It had me weeping and wishing fervently that people would allow these people to be, not symbols or tools working for support of their own ethic, but as people.  To see what conditions they are bearing, what actions they have to take and live within and, perhaps most importantly, ask themselves if those conditions allow for healthy humanity and if not ask the hardest question of all:  On what grounds can I support the subjugation of humanity?