Saturday, July 26, 2014

Truth and Meaning: Extremism

One of the reasons I write this blog is to speak to the masses of you out there who consider yourselves “middle of the road.” Maybe you are a Republican, a Democrat, or even an Independent. Maybe you are a Methodist, a Catholic or an atheist. You read my blog because it speaks with a progressive voice. You would never post a comment, because you are not involved … yet.

But the time is coming when lurkers and bystanders are going to have to take a position. Extremely wealthy people are buying our government. Extremist conservatives have hijacked the Republican Party, making Ronald Reagan look like a moderate — and Dwight Eisenhower a positive liberal. On matters of public policy, the middle ground is shrinking. Debates today tend to be black or white, all or nothing, and compromise is disappearing from our public dialogue.

For years, we put up with the Westboro Baptist Church and their outrageous offenses. Few Christians publicly condemned their acts of hate, their complete misrepresentation of the message of love taught by Jesus. Every statistic shows that our national worship of guns leads to more killing than anywhere else in the world. And yet, the voice of the NRA goes largely unopposed except for small groups with little backing from the church. The only time the church got largely involved in Michigan was when a bill threatened to allow open carry spaces to include churches.

And now, an anti-abortionist group has invaded the sanctuary of a church in New Orleans, disrupting the worship service during a moment of silence honoring a recently deceased member. Fortunately, we Unitarian Universalists practice what we preach, so the protesters were escorted out of the church by trained peacekeepers as the congregation sang to overwhelm their shouts of hate.

When will it end? How far down the path of extremism must we go before you get involved? How would you feel if people violated your sacred, holy space, calling you names and damning you? In the 1960s, we called this the Silent Majority. Well, the time for silence is over and reasonable people must begin to reclaim the moral center of this nation.

Extremism is the weapon of the ignorant, of the bully. Extremism is immoral and silence only fuels its flame. It is time to get off the sidelines and let your voice be heard. It is time for true people of faith and love to stand up to the extremists and say, “Enough!”

Monday, July 21, 2014

Truth and Meaning: Our Form of Government

A few years ago, I searched for the word that best described our dysfunctional American government. I settled on the term “kakistocracy,” which is defined as “government under the control of a nation's worst or least-qualified citizens.” Ironically, the term is easy to remember since the slang term “kaka” derives from the same root.

Recently, however, I find even this descriptor inadequate. Despite its uncanny ineffectiveness, I don’t really believe that our representatives in Washington are the worst Americans, or the least qualified (in the sense of formal credentials). So, I went on another search for a more accurate word to describe how our current government performs. You might be surprised at the options available.

Many can be eliminated for obvious reasons, like those that identify by the number of people involved in governing (autocracy, biarchy, triarachy, etc.). Some must be eliminated because they simply do not represent our current system accurately, such as trade-based governments (beerocracy, cottonocracy, millocracy). And others had to go, despite being wildly amusing – snobocracy (obvious), infantocracy (rule by an infant), and pornocracy (rule by harlots) … yes, these are actual terms).

Others held possibilities, being fairly accurate, but not wholly descriptive of our situation. Argentocracy is government by money; albocracy is government by white people; corprocracy is government by corporate bureaucrats; kleptocracy is government by thieves; chrysocracy is government by the wealthy. Each is a viable candidate, representing some element of reality, but not quite comprehensive enough.

No, our government is not completely run by unqualified people, whites, corporations, thieves, harlots or the 1percent - not yet. At least, not completely. But every time I hear a politician make an idiotic scientific claim that no science confirms, I see a fool. Every time I hear a politician deny ever taking a position only to watch Jon Stewart show video clips proving the opposite, I see a fool. When I see the least effective Congress in history claim excesses by a president who has taken the fewest executive actions in 70 years, I see fools. When I see judges afford corporations personhood with the right to hold religious beliefs, then I see fools. And when I see a government turning away children seeking asylum from certain death, I see a government of fools … in other words, a “foolocracy.”

And the sad truth of this situation is that many of these politicians were elected by us. So what does that say about our electorate? If you do not vote, you are not only an irresponsible citizen, but you deserve to be ruled by fools. If you vote for someone based on a single issue with which they claim to share your opinion, you may be electing a fool. If you are not satisfied with the government we have, and you vote incumbents back into office, well …