Friday, March 27, 2009
A Plea for Sanity
This morning I watched a right-wing pastor lecture his ample flock about the sins of the world. Any time I see someone espousing that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, I bristle. His smug, condescending, and angry opinions were what I objected to most of all. Had he been speaking from a liberal perspective, he would have quickly been discounted from several corners as a dangerous radical spewing dangerous, anti-Christian theology. Still, rather than raising my own blood pressure unnecessarily, I sought to understand rather than react in kind.
To a great extent, preachers like these reflect the hostility that comes from uncertainty and discontentment. Since I've been back home, I have seen several people in a multitude of parking lots who get visibly upset when they observe my Obama bumper sticker. And I can't help but wonder if they really understand why they're supposed to be outraged to such an extent. Fox News peddles a collection of soft news and fear-based, sensationalist, sardonically titled news stories, each of which attempts to prove conclusively how liberals are destroying the country. If you watched that for any length of time, I can imagine you'd feel pretty impotent and angry.
If we were really honest with ourselves, liberals and conservatives both would acknowledge that we don't want government to run our lives. Or, if we were even more honest than that, we would admit that we don't want government to make us do anything we don't think we ought to do. But we would then also have to admit that, contrary to what we have just stated, we also believe government should take some degree or another of an authoritarian role in our society, else others not act on behalf of their own best interest. Anytime I hear a conservative tell me that government works for them, and not the other way around, I am amazed at the degree of cognitive dissonance that exists in that statement. Conservatives have no problem telling women they can't have abortions or young women that they can't have access to birth control. In their opinion, governments ought to step in and reinforce that belief with laws and regulations. See what I mean about cognitive dissonance?
The snarky pastor I saw on television this morning made me wish for Billy Graham, whose humility was never in doubt and whose easy grace and charm made him a spellbinding speaker. I didn't always agree with the man, but I never doubted once that he was a class act. When I look around me what I often see is anything but class or rational thinking. I can't imagine that anyone seriously contemplating taking up arms or hoisting a pitchfork should be anyone's bastion of rationality, but if this is symptomatic of the times we live, I'd rather we took it down a notch and started asking ourselves some serious questions.
No one said we had the right to have things exactly the way we wanted them forever. And no one certainly promised us inflated dividends and profits from our stock portfolios, either. A friend of mine mentioned the other day that he's lost half of the value in his stocks over the last year, but he acknowledged as well that 20% of it was speculative bubble profit and not even real to begin with. So rather than building a vicious cycle of displaced worry, might I suggest we might keep a sense of class and decorum while we ride this recession out to its inevitable conclusion.