Update on this post: As of 7/17/15 the person referenced in this post and I are still friends. Go figure :-)
No, this is not another post about Alaska's infamous "bridge to nowhere" or the "road to nowhere" which ends where the bridge was never built.
This post is about my ever increasing awareness that there may be some political chasms that simply can't be bridged. And it's about the time and energy spent on human relationships that end up as roads that dead-end at un-built bridges.
For the past eight years I have been extremely disheartened by the tenor of political debate during presidential elections. However, after all that the country has witnessed, experienced and learned in hindsight over the past few years, i held great hope that this time people would put political party allegiance and the rhetoric of hate aside to find common ground. For the most part, I believe that most Americans have done, or are at least trying to do, just that.
However, in the past few days I have come to realize that there are still many people who, when it comes to politics, are stuck in the Sixties. No matter how you reach out to them and no matter how much you try to find common ground, their political arguments are reminiscent of the '64 and '68 campaigns.
Don't misunderstand me, many of the arguments put forth in 1968 are just as applicable today as they were then. But a segment of the American electorate seems so entrenched in the divisive rhetoric of that era and for them the world is black and white, no shades of gray and no colors.
Are they all racist? No. And many of those that are, are so on a subconscious level.
Are they all sexist?
No. Many of them treat the women in their immediate sphere with great respect.
Are they all unintelligent or uneducated?
Sadly, no. If that were the case it would be so much easier to understand.
No, those rooted in the politics of the Sixties are simply people for whom life's issues can be more easily managed when they conform to stereotypes and can be categorized and labeled.
A few days ago, I wrote a post about a very disturbing viral email which I received from an internet acquaintance. The email contained a link to a video by the inflammatory "Rev." James David Manning in which he purports to be defending Bristol Palin by making disparaging remarks about Barack Obama's mother. The video was so hateful and misleading that I felt that I needed to not only reply to the sender but send an open letter to my other friends as well as post my thoughts on this blog.
Since that time, I have received numerous responses to that post. Many of the responses thanked me for speaking out against the hateful speech, misrepresentation of the Christian faith and the claim that the media and the Democrat party had waged an attack on Bristol Palin. However, as you may have guessed not all of the responses were positive. And two of those responses, in particular have lead me to believe that some bridges cannot be bridged.
The following are those two responses and, of course, the sender's names will be omitted.
First a response from JP:
Read your reply to the video and I know your feelings are focused on Obama as the person you want to see elected in Nov. You have to understand that there are a lot of people who do not see things your way (me for instance). However, my reasons for opposing Obama are on a more intellectual level - I just flat don't think he is qualified to be president.
We are now going into the most terrifying time I can remember in my life - and Pam, that is a long time - We stand at the brink of a 1930's depression - no joke. Our elected leaders have put themselves ahead of the country for years and years and now the decisions that were made in the past are coming home to roost. I'm not going to go into all of those bad decisions, but suffice it to say, there is plenty of blame for both republicans and democrats. But, so what? That is the past, who can get us out of this mess?
Who has (you'll pardon the expression) the balls to do what is "right" and to hell with political expediency? Do you think for one second that Obama has that kind of backbone? The guy who voted "present" 130 times when he was in the Illinois senate? The guy who has been conspicuous by his silence on the current financial mess?
It is your future and the future of your children, grandchildren, nephews, and nieces that is at stake. The fools think that throwing a TRILLION dollars or MORE at the banking/finance industry is going to change or fix a problem that can only be fixed by getting rid of the people and institutions that got us into this mess in the first place.
Yes, I'm saying, let the banks fail - let the feds go in and take them over - that's the way the system is designed to work. Let the investors lose their collective asses. Get rid of the zillionairs at the top of these organizations and make sure they leave with the shirt on their back and nothing else. Hard love - no breaks for people that made bad decisions - that is how we learn not to do the same dumb shit in the future.
Nuf said... my stand is "lesser of evils" or who will do the least damage in a rotten situation. I think McCain has got to be the sacrificial goat here - the decisions he will have to make will almost certainly guarantee that he will only be a one term president - read Herbert Hoover... just a really bad situation and we must have someone who is not afraid to do some really hard things - no way out of this mess easily...
My response to JP was:
Sadly it is clear from your opening statement that you do not know my feelings at all on this issue.
Before I am African American, before I am a woman and before I am a Democrat I am a Christian. I am deeply offended by the use of a "religious" forum to demean or degrade anyone. I am also offended by anyone, Black or White, male or female, gay or straight, Democrat, Republican or Independent who uses any form of bigotry to advance a political position.
I've made no secret that I support Barack Obama but no where in my email did I imply that you or anyone else should support Obama, McCain, Barr or any other candidate.
It is also clear from the rest of your response that you do not realize that I have been watching and blogging about the financial situation for the past three years. During that time I've pulled no punches and have leveled criticism at both Democrats and Republicans, The Fed, and the unscrupulous practices of Wall Street and the banking industry.
Overall, your feedback further confirms my beliefs that:
* many Americans have stopped reading/listening to anyone whom they presume doesn't share their views;
* many are willing to stoop to any depths to advance their political views;
* and sadly many Americans are still way too comfortable with bigotry.
And yes J, I know that there are a lot of people who do not see things my way.
Next is a response from JS who was a little more upset. The comments in green are JS's quoting of my original reply:
>> Dear JS,
>> I am sitting here asking myself why anyone whom I consider a friend,
>> internet buddy or even casual acquaintance would think that I would find anything funny about this
>> And as a Christian, a woman, an African American and an intelligent
>> individual, I do not find this humorous on any level and I am only passing it along so I can address
>> this brand of hateful ignorance.
> **Ignorance, huh? In our various letters exchanged, it became more and more
> obvious you are a Democrat. And what is the platform of that party? It's
> pro-choice (abortion) and okay for same sex marriage. If you can show me
> where in the Bible God gives his okay for these two sins, I'd appreciate it.
> For years now the Democrats have held this view of those subjects. I'd rather
> starve as the result of poor economics than to directly tell God these two
> sins are okay with Him. Yet many Christians who are Democrats just pass
> by on this law of God's, choosing to rather deal with economics. And for
> that matter, I applaud blacks who do not let the race issue affect the way
> they vote.
> **I am not a prejudiced person, contrary to what you seem to be saying.
> If Obama was against abortion and against same sex marriage and McCain
> was on the opposite side of these issues, I'd be voting for Obama.
> **If you have had enough of me, I'll remove your e-address from my
> Address Book. But I'll still wish the best for you, even a change of how
> you feel about politics and issues.
> **Take care, JS
My reply to JS:
First of all, no where in my comments did I accuse you of being ignorant or prejudiced. I said that I find "Rev." Manning's comments to be "a brand of hateful ignorance." I do not refer to anyone, White, Black Asian, Latino or other as "trash".
Second, since I know that you are a Republican I have respected your views and have very, very seldom sent you anything of a political nature. In fact, I don't recall ever sending you anything that was a personal attack on any other person. And since you have not read much of what I have written about this campaign then you jump to the conclusion that I have always supported Barack Obama and have never been critical of him.
For the many years that we have corresponded I have never made a secret of the fact that I am a registered Democrat. I have also on numerous occasions stated that I while I am pro-life, I do not feel that the government can legislate the behavior of others. I am also a fiscal conservative. I am a Democrat because I believe that when you take care of the most vulnerable in our society it benefits everyone.
I am not going to try to explain that the majority of Democrats care about many more things than two issues. Nor am I going to attempt to justify my faith to anyone but God.
Yet, in spite of our differences I never thought of your political affiliation when I prayed for the health of (wife's name) or yourself. Or prayed for the safety of your children and grandchildren.
And while I also wish you well I do not feel that you view me with the same respect in which I have always tried to hold you. Nor do I believe that you are interested in exchanging ideas with anyone who does not exactly share your point of view. Therefore, I will leave it up to you to determine if this relationship has run its course.
I wish you and your family well. May God bless your home.
Today, I'm reflecting on what I should or could have said differently or possibly not said at all. But I guess, sometimes you're just left with roads to nowhere