We seem to all know it, but refuse to say it out loud. We don’t say it to each other. We don’t say it to ourselves. We have agreed as a people that it is simply not a public matter. And it certainly has no place in politics.
Love has never been more relevant, vital and clearly sought after by the masses. Dating websites run commercials promising marriage ad nauseum. Love can be purchased, acquired and checked off the to-do list.
The problem with placing love on a to-do list is the limiting factor of completion. Love defined as “a strong affection for another arising out of kinship” or “brotherly concern for others” hardly indicates a completable task. Unfortunately, around the time love got relegated to the romantic notion of pair bonding, most people stopped applying it to everyday life.
Why have we limited love? Well, it’s hard. People are aggravating. People are challenging. People don’t always agree or understand each other. We don’t all look, act and sound the same. All of that is extremely frustrating. I get it. I’m not calling for the end of argument or sarcasm.
Perhaps, though, applying love to the public sphere might curb some of the hateful, rancorous actions of the recent past. I defy you to prefer the following rhetoric, campaign platforms and budgetary actions over love:
●In October 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer cut $1.4 million in funding to her state’s Health Care Cost Containment System, knocking 98 desperate people off the state’s organ transplant list. “Arizona simply doesn’t have the money,” Brewer repeatedly stated.
At least two people died before funding was restored – six full months later. Still funded despite the budget gap? A $2 million grant for algae research and a $20 million renovation to the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. I have a feeling Arizona’s veterans would have gladly volunteered to return a portion of their memorial funding to save the very people they’d risked their lives defending.
●Last week, conservative commentator Tucker Carlson declared the following about the sovereign country of Iran: “I do think…that Iran deserves to be annihilated. I think they’re lunatics. I think they’re evil.”
While the antagonism speaks for itself, it doesn’t hurt to point out that the odds of all 78,000,000 Iranians being evil lunatics are pretty steep. Also, as a citizenry forced to endure eight years of George W. Bush’s foreign policy, we might consider that ordinary folks don’t always agree with the diatribes of their country’s ruling elite
●This fall, a candidate for the Republican nomination was asked if the 234 executions he’d presided over as governor of Texas caused him to lose sleep. Rick Perry’s reply: “I’ve never struggled with that at all.” The one time front-runner used his death penalty maximization policy as an effective applause line on the campaign trail.
Nationally, an average of one in ten prisoners executed are posthumously exonerated. Even setting aside the probable 20-some innocent people who are now dead on Governor Perry’s watch, there is a serious problem with execution as a policy position. Our leaders need a deep respect of all human life, not a cavalier ability to toss it away as if it is too plentiful to matter.
What would happen if love suddenly invaded public policy? What if we reduced our empathy deficit before fretting over our national deficit? Imagine if we cared about our neighbors and demanded our legislators did the same. What would that look like?
Consider a system that didn’t marginalize entire groups of people, but instead invited them to the table to engage in decisions that affect their lives. What if women, minorities, the working poor, the imaginative, the scientists, the care-givers and the educators all had a voice? What if our representative democracy actually represented us as we are?
I think it’s worth demanding from our politicians and pundits. We could still get angry and heated, still scream in frustration. I just think that frustration ought to be rooted in a reaction to injustice. We ought to yell to point out when an opportunity to care for humanity is being ignored.
Consider that we could…
…cease simply allowing others their freedom, but instead cheer for it at the top of our lungs.
…stop hoping for the end of war and actually start working toward it.
…find ourselves not just tolerating our individual differences, but celebrating them.
Certainly, this whole exercise is rather fantastic. But so what? We put a man on the moon. THE MOON. We’ve irradicated diseases and learned how to fly. Why should incorporating a love for our fellow man into everyday life be any more impossible?
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Categories: Finding My Voice