Saturday, April 30, 2005

A Dangerous New World

I found this article in our local paper (Canadian). It's hard living in a different country (I'm originally from Ohio) but interesting to see the way others in the world view Americans. I agree with a lot of what she has to say in this article, but also know that if Canada was ever in trouble.....who would they call? Americans. God Bless America.
Let me just say that the article was accompanied by a huge picture of George Bush, and underneath his photo was this: Liberal-minded thinkers in the new world of U.S. President George W. Bush are now labeled as "the enemy".

So here's the article:

Intolerance, hypocrisy and fear as exercised by people unwilling to accept alternate opinions and points of view has created, for our children, a dangerous new world.
In the United States, for example, it has gotten so bad that talk show host Phil Donahue told The Fifth Estate, "to be labeled Liberal is terrifying".
Ann Coulture, and American best-selling author, known perhaps most for her statement following 9/11 that "we (the Americans) should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them all to Christianity" exemplifies the "us-against-them" mentality. To her, Liberals are "the enemy" and anti-American, even though, some might say, they simply hold a different point of view.
To have an entirely Christian and Republican nation may be Coulture's dream, but not only do I not share this dream, I think it's quite possibly the most un-American philosophy I have ever heard. But, that my opinion (maybe it was Thomas Jefferson's too).
What's the point, you ask? After all this isn't a political column.
Well, the point is simply this- when we as parents become intolerant of alternate opinions, call them "the enemy" and end friendships over it- what are we teaching our children? Have we become so imbedded in a culture of "making nice" that we have forgotten how to have a healthy debate, varying degrees of opinion and tolerance? Have we lost touch with being real?
In social circles everywhere it isn't uncommon for people to shy away from sharing opinions, because frankly, they're scared. Political correctness and ridiculous elements of propriety haven't made things any better. Too intimidated to confront each other, they hide behind cowardly emails and debased value systems instead of discussing the issues or even agreeing to disagree.
As a society we are forgetting how to disagree. But in the process of creating cowards through intolerance we forget we are giving up one of our fundamental rights as human beings- freedom of thought, opinion and expression thereof.
Right wing propaganda may be the mainstream in America at the moment, but opinions sway on both sides of the fence. Here in Canada, though changing, the opposite is usually true. Often it is easiest to criticize the mainstream and hardest to question the alternative. Those with an alternate point of view feel they can liberally criticize the "norm", whether government, education, corporate policies or even parenting techniques. But, I daresay, should one of us criticize the alternative, rebellious or non-conforming, we can find ourselves rejected, ridiculed and even name-called.
Without a healthy, inquisitive attitude, and an openness to debate the contentious and political, we relinquish our ability toward pregressive thought, to evolve and to teach our children that they can be true to themselves and open.
Disputes need to be worked out, arguments won and lost, opinions shared and debated, and courageous steps taken to remind oneself of the importance in disent.
Jean-Paul Sartre reasoned: "In our relationships with other human beings, what we truly are is all that counts, yet it is precisely here that we most often betray ourselves by trying to be whatever the other person expects us to be." A friend said to me: "Relationships have become superficial since we've forgotten how to hash things out." And she's right. Relinquishing the ability of "going a round" with a friend means that, unless we agree wholeheartedly, we rarely talk about anything very interesting. Politics are taboo at neighbourhood BBQs - you wouldn't want them to form an opinion about you....But, really, why not?
Why not allow people to see your true colours, to hear what you have to say, because in return you can give them (and by default your children) the opportunity to be real?
For Coulture to say that a Liberal minded thinker is "the enemy" is to forego one of the most valued principles of our society and ultimately, her kind of behaviour teaches our children that they don't have to listen to each other, respect and honour the differences, whether opinion, race or otherwise, in each of us. After all, it may just be her opinion, but who respects the enemy?
Enemies invade, rape, pillage and kill. Enemies are not an opposing political party in their home country.
Let us teach our children to "fight the good fight" but let us show them how to do it with some decorum. My children are frequently the audience to a good home-front political debate. What are they learning? Stand up for what you believe in and respect those who see it differently. And, opinion is not a bad thing if you are also willing to LISTEN.
Coulture likes to quip, "we (the Republicans) are winning and they (the Democrats) are losing." But in the end, if we do not defend each other's right to voice our opinion, she doesn't realize, we all lose.
As Sartre once said, "There are, in the end, only two choices - sincerity or self-deception, to be or not to be."
Let us be whole, let us be true, let us look at the homeless like they are people; enjoy laughter and tears, and walls falling instead of being built; let us move forward, let us go beyond ourselves to see the bigger children so that our children won't run from the world when they don't like what they hear.

The end.

Moral of the story: Everyone has a right to their own ideas, thoughts and opinions. Be willing to listen to everybodys point of view.


Anonymous Susan said...

If the people of Canada think we are so bad, they should have been in town last week when Larry Cox, one of our police officers was killed. Talk about bringing together people. The caring and giving of our communities is what all Canadians need to know about....not the dorkus President Bush and his shenanigans. The people of the USA really are good people. The only ones who get publicity, however, are the ones that are dunderheads.

6:59 PM, April 30, 2005  
Blogger Jen said...

It's not so much that they think Americans are bad. I think what she's saying is that you should be able to have the right to your opinion but under the leadership of George, we should all think like him. I agree about the loyalty of Americans. You just don't see that here. And...God forbid if I hear anyone here talking about Americans. I have to interrupt and tell them I'm American....and then they shut the hell up. :) I guess we are kinda defensive ... haha.

7:35 PM, April 30, 2005  
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I feel one must include Ann C's style of humor when discussing her comments. If you read her books, she uses dry humor to make her points. It is easy for her detractors to take her comments out of context and keep hitting her over the head with them. Does she really believe Democrats as the enemy? Not on a personal level, but their style and methods of today are very subject to criticism. The enemy lies in using short-sighted policies and relying on personal emotion to form world policy. That is why South America is the way it is today.

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