Syd Blog: Embracing Paradox

Some thoughts on common ground between the right and the left.
by Syd Gris

The country is full of division and that’s not news to you. The electoral map as we all know well by know is by and large red in the middle, blue on the coasts. Of course, we know that the 2000 election results were a total sham. Al Gore won the popular vote nation wide and in Florida but the Republicans make better bullies and the Democrats laid down like dogs to the ruin of so many things. New evidence has just come to light of wide spread mistakes in the Florida electronic balloting again in 2004, but we’re not here to get into that. I mention it to remind us a true vote of the people might have Florida and Ohio as blue states by a thin margin. Regardless, it serves to illustrate the division to which this brief downloading of thought is about.

Karl Rove successfully tapped into a populace of people who some regard as God fearing, gun toting America first conservatives who want their government to reflect their Christian values. This is of course partly true. The Republican parties success in fusing the big business interests of their core supporters using the Christian foot soldiers electing officials who don’t represent their middle class economic best interests is a testament to their marketing skills. Tally ho you bastards. In many instances they don’t even represent their religious values either, except maybe when bent into the Apocalyptic brand of Rapture believing, shall I say as non-perjoratively as I can – whackos, who believe hastening the second coming through Middle East war and environmental destruction isn’t such a bad thing. That vocal, rich, and in many ways effective slice of the pie aside, I’m more interested in those who I would consider ‘normal’, ‘rational’, but still spiritual Americans who go to church and pay their taxes and have your standard array of fears and prejudices, but in their core their hearts are OK.
This block of folks, voting Republican in many cases, want the same things that I consider ‘we’ want. And when I say ‘we’ I mean the Gen X progressively minded, educated, pissed off seekers of more to life than consumer hell. Our generation has embraced an integral spiritual outlook that doesn’t have it all worked out but certainly believes in something. And that something is a thing to guide our values and ethics and way of living in the world. We don’t have a common banner of this or that religion or icon, but we know, or think we know, that the existential truths of our existence are more than nothing, and certainly different than archaic ideas of Heaven and Hell.
We want a culture that is less focused on consumerism and the accumulation of stuff, that is less celebrated in it’s base expressions of violence in media, music, and the like. A culture who’s values of the common good and right living, actually enters our decisions to go to war, or support repressive regimes, or act in ways that hurt the earth and our long term sustainability to live here. I truly believe, within many shades of grey of course, that we want many of the same things. We turn on the T.V. and are sickened by pop culture, though perhaps for different reasons. We don’t like the modern hip hop influenced American archetype of what is cool – money, power, ego. We want our leaders to have a spiritually grounded moral compass that actually is lived and not just talked about to get votes.
We want to live safely, and free, in a healthy environment to raise our kids. Now of course within these broad generalizations there are many smaller agendas. There are many who’d love to see the entire country a Christian nation, to the detriment of others who aren’t or won’t get with the program. There are many who who don’t see the connection between what kind of country they want to have, and how they spend their dollars. They are naive to the level of corruption and incest between big business and elected officials. They fail to see the network of causal relationships for the state of affairs and lean towards simplisitc explanations.
There is so far to go and so little time to turn things around! But, I’d like to think if common ground can be found amongst the progressive left who aren’t as post-modern and secular as their predessors, and the contingency of the right that want a healthier society shaped by what is right and good and just, we might just have something here. This is not to discount the very significant differences. But, the ability to see that common ground while still acknowledging the many differences is an exercise in embracing paradox that is a healthy and necessary skill to hold it all at once. A tough one, but so needed, so please think on these things and hug your paradox today.

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