Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Man Up, Sarah Palin

The shootings in Arizona, a tragic event that has brought the nation momentarily to its senses, has also stoked a new fight over who or what is to blame for the senseless act of a madman. There is no doubt that Loughner is a delusional young man in the grips of schizophrenia. The roots of his particular condition are hidden from casual commentators and beyond the scope of a blog post. Many reporters have pointed to the suburban ennui and decay of his Tucson neighborhood, his reclusive parents, his drift into drug use and conspiracy theories, as contributing factors. But the belligerent political rhetoric of the right, using visual images of gun fetishists in its propaganda, inciteful, accusatory and personally vilifying speech and actual gun toting protesters at political rallies, must have certainly added to Loughner's deranged plans of action. Sarah Palin's controversial crosshairs web page targeting Congresswoman Giffords, taken down in the hours after the shootings, are the smoking gun for irresponsible hate-mongering that led us to this moment.
Rhetoric on the right is now wriggling away from accepting responsibility. It is true that there is no direct link between Loughner and political groups, but it would be nice to hear centrists like David Brooks acknowledge the violent and undemocratic underpinnings of recent Republican and Tea Party imagery and speech that led a kook to act out the hate that has us in its grip.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

In With The New

The old year is fading fast from memory, much like the last snow under the onslaught of a thawing Bermuda high. As the second decade of the new century gets underway, there's a chance for us to highlight the positive accomplishments, the steps we've made in the right direction, and underscore the persistent dilemmas that confront us as a nation and as individuals.
Americans are feeling better about themselves, according to polls, more secure about what the future brings this year than last, and for good reason. The economic deep freeze shows signs of thawing at last, and congressional moves to pass some laws moving us forward reflect the self-righting logic that makes this democracy work. But Republicans are about to take over the majority in Congress, vowing to repeal health care reforms, fight the EPA's ability to curb greenhouse gas pollution and in general do everything they can to ensure that Obama does not win re-election in 2012. The more things change, it seems the more they stay the same.
On a personal level, reaching the age of fifty means making peace with some of my own limitations, at the same time appreciating the gifts that I have. As the kids get older, the joys of family life seem to deepen even as the challenges of managing relationships get more complex. Personal goals remain as elusive as ever, but new ideas bring new inspiration and new hope.
Keep on keeping on, and remember the words of 1 John 4:7-8: "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love."
If that doesn't inspire you, think of the Christmas lesson of Play Doh. It started out as an industrial cleaner used to get soot off of wall paper. When the market went out from under it as people stopped burning coal in the 1950s, the inventors noticed that children liked to make Christmas decorations with it and re-invented the stuff as an educational aid. 
It's never over until the spark of ingenuity and creation goes out. There's more than one way to skin the cat. Just ask the makers of Play Doh, or any kid you know.