Saturday, March 31, 2012

Our Hypocrisy Will Eventually Haunt Us

What will you regret on your deathbed? Will it be not living a big enough life, the road not taken, not living out your dreams? Or will it be the entire way you made your living, acquired power and stature, and lived your life?

The way we live our lives is a big deal. No one can live a life of complete integrity, we are all imperfect human beings after all... but how congruent can we get? How closely do our values, words, and actions match up?

The movie Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story (2008) is a fascinating documentary of a man who took politics as low as it can go and then spent his dying days apologizing for how he had lived his life and what he had done in the name of success. The quick version is he helped President Reagan and especially President Bush with dirty tricks and slime-slinging behind the scenes and then at the shockingly young age of 40 got sick with a brain tumor and spent his dying days terrified envisioning what awaited him for living such a shady life.

I don't believe politics is a clean sport and I don't think hypocrisy is by any means limited to Republicans, but the shocking thing to me was how few of his admirers (like Karl Rove) learned from him that it is not a good way to live a life. Sarah Palin preaches about abstinence-only education while her two eldest children both started families out of wedlock; Karen Santorum backs her husbands stance on birthcontrol and abortion when at 22 she dated and lived with the 63-year-old doctor who not only delivered her as a baby but also preformed abortions; Maggie Gallagher the woman who has spent most of the last few years fighting same-sex marriage as the founder of National Organization For Marriage not only had a child out of wedlock but is rumored to be living apart from her husband... and yes, for goodness sakes yes-- there are numerous Democrats too. Making a living judging, legislating, or fighting against others rights seems like the kind of hypocrisy that is dangerous to be playing around with.

Of course in extends way beyond politics in to every walk of life, socio-economic level, and every profession including clergy of ever denomination. Heck, we're all hypocrites in some form or fashion.

The spine-tingling part of the movie that hit me was when Ed Rollins, Lee's previous boss who he had ruthlessly thrown under the bus, tells of how when Lee knew he was dying he begged Ed to take care of him because after all that was said and done he was the only one he could trust.

Who will end up being there for us? Who will we trust? Will we be able to look ourselves in a mirror and be proud of our lives? Will the judgement we use on others be turned around to judge us?

Will the hypocrisy of how we lived our lives be something we can live with... or, like Lee, will it haunt us?

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Rush to Bully

Last week was not a good week for bullies. First Andrew Breitbart unexpectedly passed away and then Rush Limbaugh began his hostile verbal bullying of a woman who had dared to express her opinion about birth control coverage. Rush is not as I see it the problem; he is a damaged person who makes tons of money selling hate while numbing himself with multiple marriages and painkillers. There are always people without integrity willing to sell their soul for fortune and fame. But how did he get so powerful in the first place, who's buying what he's selling?

It is shameful in my opinion to perpetuate hate for a living. It is just bad karma. Every time we see a preacher, politician, or pundit spewing hate at a group there is almost like clock work a scandal exposing them for doing the exact thing they were just condemning. The fact that it is now whole networks and even people running for the highest office in the land is sad. As is the notion that it is politically detrimental to stand up to a bully like Rush. When George Will described the GOP leadership this weekend, it kind of said it all: They want to bomb Iran, but they're afraid of Rush Limbaugh.

Unfortunately hate never runs out of supply, but I think the more the world is changing the less long term stability it has. The next few years will probably be great for hate. There are still large section of the US not happy that we're becoming a multi-cultural, religiously, and sexually tolerant nation. They'll probably double down on fear frightened that their way of thinking is under attack. But eventually, and this is surely happening in the generation below mine, they will bawk at such discrimination and hate.

It's a percentage game, eventually times change and the youngsters of today are sweeping in a different era one in which they all have friends, family members, or are social media fans of a cornucopia of people. They have gay friends, hispanic classmates, atheist uncles. They think it is cool to have a black president. They don't want to fight wars over religion because they know people from that religion and they realize they are just like them.

Bullying and hate is the easy, cheap solution. The more noble, sustainable, healthier solution is to come together and see what we can do bringing the best of ourselves to the table (or radio, tv, work). If we must fight let it be for how best to help each other, how tolerant we can be to our neighbors, and how much good we can bring into the world. Hate is so played out... let peace, prosperity, and partnership be what we teach our children, hope for our nation, and practice for ourselves.