Archive for October, 2008

The Polarized States of America

Friday, October 10th, 2008

I was hoping to avoid going on political topics in the beginning, giving a variety of views, but what can we say? We’re dead in the throngs of political madness, with voting less then 30 days away. And unfortunately, I made one of the biggest mistakes of the recent past: I joined

How is this a mistake you might ask? It’s a discussion site with more gang-mentality comments then discussion. The most active arguments are on the political topics, and they are nothing short of arguments. There are people on both sides with no knowledge of the situations except for the title of the links and the occasional video. Liberals and conservatives describing their politician as beyond error. Democrats and republicans describing the opposing party as idiots for only listening to their side’s propaganda. And then third party followers who believe that if they tell people both major candidates are the same dirty pigs, they’ll convert people into voting third party. I’ve seen comments on there that range from childish to annoying to stupid to vile to boring to just down right unintelligent. And then once in a while I see a comment that looks at both sides of the issue and makes a valid or at least well thought out point for one side, and those comments most often get buried orĀ mocked.

So whats the point, you might ask? Most voters are mostly uninformed you say? But why? This is an ironic sort of country, filled with counter-intuitive, almost opposing views/desires. The first is the English language. Common, has there ever been a more convoluted language? There’s also this desire to be inanely free, maintaining rights, while having national and personal security. There’s the strong isolationist urge to keep away from the rest of the world while at the same time to be the saviors for the rest of the world, take what we need, and give nothing back (that doesn’t help us). And of course, there is the odd nationalistic pride, defining America as the greatest unified country on the planet, yet ridiculing anyone who has a viewpoint that doesn’t quite match up.

Two party politics

Two party politics

Truth is, two party politics suck. Nothing is black and white, nothing is a or b. Having two major parties means if you don’t agree with either side, you can choose to use your vote on a third party that has no chance of ever winning, or not vote, which is also frowned upon. But the system is too far ingrained for a third party to ever come to power. Not until the other two parties do something EXTREMELY terrible. Truth is, the two party system, along with how diverse America is, and the state of human psychology and American sociology, tears people apart. I have not seen comments so vicious as I do on political debate discussions. And most of the time, its because people are too blinded to party lines to see what they’re truly writing about. They’re confounded with acceptance of ideas that they would probably dismiss or discard on non-political topics. XKCD said it best. I’ve heard people say terrorism is un-American, but secessionist desires are the independence America was founded on. I’ve heard people say that the bailout is our road to socialism and communism, but public works are important.

Truth is politics brings out the worst in people. And sometimes it brings out the worst people. I don’t think a country will ever be well off until it brings intelligence to its highest ranks, and not necessarily political intelligence. I believe, that with the right backing, an academic or scientist, would make a better political leader. A “common Joe” would make a better political leader. But these people are often smart enough to realize that politics are too convoluted for a single person to significantly effect. Even if a guy off the street made it to President, you have all of congress, and every other level to compete with. And yet, people are outraged by how politicians behave but mock any of the “common folk” who make a stab at it. Politics is a dark color in the spectrum of civility. And quite a few people are waiting for change. Unfortunately, no one is willing to step up to it. And I think I’ll be laying off Digg for now. I’m not sure any of us really wanna listen to some of those comments… and I’m not sure I can afford to lose that much faith in humanity.

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Note: In my haste to go downstairs to watch the VP debate yesterday, I forgot to publish this… so mind you, you should have seen it yesterday.

No, this isn’t about politics. This is about something much bigger and much more important to me: the world.

Now you might say, that’s silly. Everyone cares about the world. I’m not sure about that. Everyone cares about their position in the world. The world is more then just a collection of individuals. Call me naive, but I believe in world peace, relatively speaking. I think everyone has the ability to make amends and come together. Some will have a very hard time (Bill O’Reilly?) granted. But I think everyone has within them the ability to see the world in a better light. I believe everyone is connected (just check out Matt). And for the last 3 years, I’ve been taking part of “National Be the Change Day”, formerly “National Ghandi Day of Service”, a day to commemorate the man who issued the most famous quote I titled this story with: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

I can’t begin to tell you how much respect I have for this man. My Jain upbringing taught me fighting is not as powerful as peace. Fighting breaks bodies, not minds. I will never cease to be amazed how the son of a politician absorbed religious values from multiple religions and became the quintessential father of India. A revolutionary who changed the world not with action, but with inaction. What’s saddest is the world knows him, but very few learned the lessons he taught by showing us.

I’ve raved a bit about Jamie Foxx’s movie “The Kingdom.” It’s very stirring, because to me it teaches one lesson: violence only breeds violence; the only solution to violence is understanding. And so today, I remember Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. There are so few people like him in the world, and with all the fighting in the world, I truly believe the only end-all solution is from the lessons he taught us: don’t fight, understand. There are dozens on dozens of quotes you can get from the man that make you wonder, why fight?

And the take him from him is to understand in your daily life. The co-worker who snapped at you this morning may be going through troubles at home and doesn’t deserve your disdain. The man you met on the street who bumped into you might have been distracted from a family member or friend in the hospital. And I’m not saying everyone has a reason for negative actions, but responding to negativity with negativity only perpetuates the cycle. Take a minute to think about your actions, and your day will be much better. Its not “new age” mumbo-jumbo… They’ve been doing it in India for centuries.

I also want to take a minute to plug the most influential person in my life that I’ve had the honor of meeting twice. Nipun Mehta is the most inspiring and genuine people I’ve ever met, and has inspired me in so many ways. Learn a bit about him at his blog, and take a chance to visit and learn about his project, Smile Cards. Smile Cards are a way to stir up anonymous acts of random kindness through a “pass it on” mindset. Its worth exploring (I never leave home without Smile Cards in my wallet) and its worth taking a look at some of the heart warming stories on there. If nothing else, feed my ego and search for the stories under the username “Keleth” (I’m ashamed to say I haven’t posted a story on there in over a year).