Friday, September 07, 2012

In which my view of politics may be discussed.....

Times flies.

Actually, it is not so much time as a distinct reluctance to post anything I may have written. Plenty has been written, believe me. Thank the Good Lord a Canadian friend voiced what I, and , it appears, so very many friends around the globe, including the USA, have been thinking re the appalling vitriol which is spewing out over the Internet waves about the US election. Specifically on Facebook. By some of our Christian friends. It has saddened me immensely, and has left me incapable of rational/coherent thought here. That is, I may well have posted what I wanted to say and that, I know from long and bitter experience, could have unleashed the hounds of hell.

I don't need the hounds of hell.

However, what I will say is this. We are all unique. We are all individuals. We all have our own opinions. We are all entitled to freedom of speech. Freedom of thought. We are all intelligent adults. We are all entitled to respect. And hopefully, we all pray for our leaders, whoever they may be. And we are still friends, despite any differences. Maybe because of those differences. Differences make the world interesting.

Now, before my American friends think that I may not know or understand what is happening in the USA, let me just say that I have always followed American politics and news. I read widely. I check out different opinions. I know how to follow exactly what is happening in Congress and the Senate. I read BOTH sides of the House. I love facts. I hunt them down. Politicians intrigue me.

And, I am impartial when it comes to other countries - I can stand back and assess dispassionately.

You see, I come from a country where politics WAS our life. It shaped who I am, and I have been in  the midst of real political strife, where there was a very real danger present. I have written about that time before, I think.  I now live in a country where all my friends have very diverse political opinions, and we laugh and tease each other, we may campaign for opposing parties, we discuss things at length, disagree vehemently and, guess what............ we walk away friends.  We may even persuade each other to change our minds. Miracles happen.

Here in the UK, we live under incredibly tough austerity measures right now, and we all moan loudly, and worry, and boo the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he arrives to hand out medals, and he laughs and keeps going. He knows he has an impossible job. Actually, we know that too. No-one would want his job. We do not like what he makes us do, but no-one would call for his death, or wish him personal ill.

It is like when you discipline a child - you don't tell him/her that he/she is a terrible child. You tell him he did a bad thing. The thing, not the child is the important part.

But calling your president Satan? Wishing he was dead? Hate-mongering? Really? Seriously?

All leaders globally, who took office after the banks wrecked the global economy and forced everyone in the world into appalling austerity measures, took on what one could call the poisoned chalice. I would not have wanted their job. They had to try to steer huge economies around in a wide U-turn to try to rescue us all. (Do NOT get me started on the banks though.) The damage was done, not on their watch, but done, nonetheless, and had to be dealt with one way or another.

So, to save our countries, in came austerity measures which every single one of us have to suffer through. They hurt, believe me. Life cannot be what it was for anyone until the books balance. And the poorest hurt the most. I know. Believe me, I know. However, what are the options? Look at Greece. Spain. Portugal. Ireland. France. And many more. Life is tough, people. Tough. We are all paying. And will go on paying for the rest of our lives, in all probability.

We are taxed here way beyond the level most would think. Our VAT (sales tax) is 20%. Our petrol/gas price is the highest in the world currently £1.39 a litre, and a huge part of that is tax. Bottom income tax rate on individuals is 20% for earnings effectively over £8,105. Earn over £34, 370, you will pay 40% tax. And over £150,000 you will pay 50% tax. You can check out the tables here if you like. And on top of that, we pay a minimum of a further 12% in National Insurance (which covers the National Health Service etc). So, we do pay for our free health care system. Most of us live in small houses, and the banks won't lend to anyone, and.......

See? Tough times. We wail and gnash our teeth and wonder if the powers that be understand or know how much it hurts. We count out pennies, pop them in pots and try to get by as best we can. (I could write a book on frugality and cash economy and cost-cutting austerity measures for families which would make the Chancellor's budget look like a charming fairy tale.)  And so we get on with it, and produce the best Olympics and Paralympics EVER and we party and cheer and absolutely love the way the sun is finally shining and the way the nation is celebrating and the feats of pure magic we see all day on the TV screen. And forget all about the woes of the economy for a while. There is plenty of laughter and elation about right now. I love it.


Knowledge is the key. Facts. Figures. Check. Re-check. I am intensely interested in world affairs, you see. I have been since I was a child, actually. President Kennedy's assassination was the start and I was just nine. My oldest son inherited the same fascination. Fortunately, our schools definitely taught global geography and history back then. And then I studied world history and politics at university and African History was my second major. My focus was on American History and 20th C politics. The two cannot be separated at all. And the fascination remains to this day. I remember phoning the New Zealand embassy in London once, before the advent of the Internet, because my friend and I could not for the life of us remember the name of their Prime Minister. See? I love facts. We needed to know. The embassy staff may have thought we were crazy but that is just fine.

 I have a clear view of different countries and the way they work. Different systems. I can separate the personal feelings from the facts. Even here in the UK. I vote strategically. But there is one thing which worries me a great deal at the moment. Two things. The rights of women. That is key. I am a woman. The other is the erosion of the freedom of choice. That should not be happening in the 21st C, and in no way constitutes progress. Isn't progress what life is all about? Freedom of choice. Go here to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 It is not my place, or yours, or anyone else's to judge others. Or their decisions or choices. That is central to my Christian faith. It is not my place. My place is to love. To love even my enemy. To treat everyone as though they were my beloved brother or sister. And by enemy, I am not talking only about warfare. I am referring to the person who cuts in front of you as you drive, the neighbour who campaigns for a different party, the smelly homeless man begging, the mum who always has perfect kids, the team that beats yours. Ordinary people. Bad people. Evil, even. Prime Ministers, Presidents, Nominees, Chancellors, Pastors. I may not like them, but I am commanded to (try to) love them. Hey. I am human too. It is tough at times. There may be are plenty of times when I have to remind myself with gritted teeth. Haven't you ever yelled that at your kids? "I may not like what  you are doing but I still love you"?? No? Am I the only one? Hmmm. I try to remind myself of how Nelson Mandela has lived his life. That gentleness and love which shines from his face. A remarkable man. I in no way resemble Nelson Mandela. I need to work on that bit.

So. How do I round this off.....

I have no desire to enter politics. Mind you, the pensions and perks are staggering even after just one term, so who knows. I will always be interested in different viewpoints. But civilised discussion or debate is what I love, not mob hysteria. (I have seen what the very literal interpretation of the words "Mob Hysteria" can do. I come from Africa, remember.)

And should I ever choose to talk about politics in more depth, I will be acting on my right to freedom of speech. Should I comment on foreign politics, ditto. Freedom of opinions.

Should I EVER get to the point again where I worry about alienating people who pop over here to visit, who I see as my friends, then I will shut down this blog. I have paced and groaned and moaned and deleted and written and worried and............ ENOUGH. This is my corner of the Internet. All rights of expression here are mine. Whatever they may be. Whoever may be offended challenged.

And you know what? I don't mind what any of you say or think - I still love you all, and respect your wildly differing opinions, and will read avidly, no matter which party/ideal you support. Whether or not you choose to write about politics. I am fascinated any way.

Just please, please distance yourselves from the hate, because that worries me sick.

And here endeth Linds' State of the Globe Address.

Normal service will resume after I have had a hot coffee and some chocolate under the apple tree to recover.

In the sun. It shines on....................


Vee said...

We truly need to see others as God Himself sees others. While I am no fan of our current president's policies or opinions, I do not hate him nor do I wish him anything beyond a good life lived anywhere but in the White House.

Thank you for your insights, Linds. We may never agree on politics, though we agree on so many other things, including that there is no need for hatred.

Anger? Well now, that may be another story. It is difficult to stand by and watch all that we hold dear be destroyed.

Linds said...

I know what you mean, Vee - it is a universal feeling of frustration and despair. I feel that too so many times, and I am so glad you were the first to comment, because I really do value your words!And your desire for a removal team to help out your President made me grin here. There is such a huge difference between anger and hatred. The challenge is to keep them apart. And that applies to the entire globe. Some just never get that the distinction is so essential. People damage each other without remembering how precious the gift of life really is.

You and John have a lovely weekend !

Needled Mom said...

In my lifetime I cannot ever remember the hatred that is coming through in this election. Things are being said out loud that should never exit the lips. Everyone seems to be on the edge and hyper sensitive. I do wonder if we will all be able to come together again.

Linds said...

I think you have hit the nail on the head, Mary - it is so divisive. And that also worries me sick. So I had to speak out. Gently, I hope. One nation under God? Maybe some need to be reminded of that, because I so admire that pledge. Thank you for your comment - the more wise words said the better.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said.
I am trying very hard to stay out of the fray, think positive thoughts and pray a lot. I am afraid of where all of this hatred is going.

A business man in my small city has hung a huge sign on his property that reads
"Pray for Obama...Psalms 109:8." Once people went to their bibles to read the verse, outrage erupted in my city. You couldn't stop with one verse. You kept reading and the sign took on a whole different meaning. It was on the news, in the newspaper and discussed on blogs. Larger cities sent television crews to stand in front of the sign and interview the man who posted it. Everyone defends his right to post signs on his property and believe what he chooses. However, most citizens on both sides and of all beliefs, are baffled by his actions. The sign remains. This is just one of many examples of the hatred spewing in the media and online. It breaks my heart.


Stripeyspots said...

Lindsay, doesn't it make you think of that Rudyard Kipling poem, "If"?
If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs...
Or something like that.

PEA said...

Have I ever told you how well you write?? Brilliant:-) In your post you say exactly what I've been thinking and feeling. As I've mentioned before, I really don't care who's side anyone is on, who is going up for President, who is President at the moment, etc...what I do care about is seeing people believing everything the media puts out there, some are downright lies...and yet, they believe every word because that's what they want to believe due to their hatred of the President. Then they post about it on FB and their blogs and I cringe at the cruelty of their words, especially since they call themselves Christians and are forever posting about God. Of course everyone has their own opinions and have every right to write about it but my goodness, can't it be in a civil way and not involve "satan" into it?? Anyway, thank you for posting this, dear Linds, people are just going too far. xoxo

The Bookworm said...

I agree with every word. I am saddened that America is doing itself so much damage in the eyes of the rest of the world during this political campaign. I was particularly struck by this comment (from Associated Press report) on the US's downward slide in global economic competitiveness ... "some aspects of the U.S.'s political environment continue to raise concern among business leaders, particularly the low public trust in politicians and a perceived lack of government efficiency." I fear it is only going to get worse, as the divisions and polarisation are becoming so extreme. I sincerely hope the US political system isn't breaking beyond repair. (Incidentally, the country at the top of the economic competitiveness table is Switzerland.)

Isabelle said...

Wow. Good for you. Indeed.

Olson Family said...

Thank You for this Post! Hear, hear.

I don't care one bit for one side using "Satan" in conjunction with the current administration NOR the current admin.'s "surrogates", as they seem to be called, using WWII war criminals names to describe the opposition. Shameful.

It's enough to make us wish ourselves back in Switzerland - not to mention we moved back to one of the most 'broken' States in the Union - CA.

I will continue to wish for a return to "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" regardless of Party affiliation. Oh, and I would like to continue to have freedom of speech and religion without people hating me for such views. Yes, that would be nice.

Think I'm due for a capuccino. :)