Back when I posted frequently about politics and economics I had a lot more regular readers of this blog. But a trip to Haiti, and a lot of personal reflection and life-change, convinced me to turn my back on that stuff. For the past few years I try (not always successfully) to avoid political subjects on this blog. I don’t regret that at all.
This year Virginia has been declared a “battleground state” by whoever decides such things. So we’re being flooded with political ads, almost all of them negative. The powermongers are desperately trying to convince the voters that there is a material difference between the blue option and the red option. So they exaggerate the petty differences between the two of them and hurl lies and half-truths at one another. But most of all they incite anger and fear with wedge issues, typically at the expense of marginalized people. That little trick always works and this year is no exception. Millions of folks will go to the polls in November, anxious to prevent “extremists” on the left or right (depending on their preferences) from taking the country down the drain. Never mind that that there is nothing “extremist” about either of the mainstream parties. Tens of billions of dollars are being spent to convince folks that there is, and the manipulators of public opinion are very good at what they do.
We got rid of our TV a long time ago, so we’re mercifully being spared the TV political ad blitz. But now all the ugliness is spilling over onto facebook and the internet generally. In this orgy of mudslinging and misinformation it seems that there is just no safe place to be.
I can’t help but wonder how much good could be done in the world if all that passion and energy was spent doing good and building people up instead of inciting anger and tearing people down.
When I feel myself getting sucked into the fray, I like to think of this sentence from St. Paul’s letter to the Phillipians: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Still good advice.
Wendell Berry has some too:
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.