July 25, 2012

The Donkephant

In the last couple of weeks, between the shootings in Colorado with the ensuing gun debate and the fact that it is an election year, I've found myself becoming more and more political.

Ok I take that back. Not necessarily political, more like trying to hone in on my personal political identity. What I've found is that the two main parties can be boiled down and described like this:

Republicans hate the government.
Democrats hate rich people. 

Now I know that there are a bunch more nuances, but I think that sums it up on a high level. If I had to pick a side solely based on that characterization, I'd have to go with Republicans (though I'm not a fan of either party in its entirety). That conclusion is largely based on the fact that I don't hate rich people. Most of the time (with the exception of some select celebrities who I think should be required to pass grammar test or pay double the taxes), I believe that people have worked hard to earn their money, and no one deserves to be penalized for being successful. It's their money, and if they choose to spend it on twelve Porches instead of funding an underprivileged child's education, that's their own call. I don't even mean that sarcastically. I truly mean that is their possession to do with it what they will. To me, it's the same as knowledge and talent. No one should be required to use his or her talent in a specified or regulated manner. There are plenty of ways someone's talent could help people, but no one has the right to tell them that they are using it wrong. Talents, knowledge, money... They are all possessions, and the government really shouldn't be dictating how what's mine gets used.

But in a non-fiscal sense (aka socially), I sort of side with the Democratic party. Not 100% by any means, nor do I always agree with their solutions, but I can usually empathize or understand what gets named as issues. Some people need help. Some things need reform. But there are ways to go about it that don't involve striping people of the rights they were given when this country was founded. Above any sort of political divide, I am American through and through. I think a lot of times our identity as a nation gets forgotten. People forget why we were founded. And by who. And the immense amount of thought that went into the Constitution. Sometimes I think we'd be better off doing a legislation renovation. Strip back to the 2x4s (the Constitution...) and start again without all the nonsense associated with the political process like tacking on unrelated amendments to bills to either delay its passing or push it through unnoticed. Most of the time, I am disheartened by Washington (Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers... Whoever) and the fact that they rarely seem driven by public opinion, desires, or wellbeing.

Anyway, I never considered myself political, and I still don't. I'll probably follow a bit more closely now, though. I hope to never lose the feeling that I might be able to change the world somehow, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it won't be possible through policy and legislation. I really have no desire to be part of that process, or be tainted by it.

For now, I suppose I'll continue calling myself independent. I think party lines are silly and a whole lot more good people would be in government if we stopped voting along them.

July 20, 2012

Prayers for Aurora

I’m at work and I cannot focus. On top of it being a Friday afternoon after a long lunch with some of my team, there was the Colorado Aurora shooting this morning. I’ve always been a deeply sensitive person, so it comes as no surprise that I feel so affected by this happening. It is so sad. Rachel Flatt, Olympic figure skater, posted on her Facebook in a way that rang true to me. Movies are supposed to be a getaway from real life - a safe haven, if you will. The shooting in the “Dark Knight Rises” shattered that illusion and left 12 dead and 71 injured. It’s tragic and it’s scary. There has been an outpouring of support on Facebook for the victims and their families and friends. That in itself is heartwarming, amidst a bunch of chaos. Poor Colorado has been sent through the ringer this summer between the wildfires and this massacre. There have been other major shootings in the state as well over the years, which is discouraging and upsetting. This one was only 13 miles away from Littleton - where Columbine took place.

What irks me about the situation is that the dust hasn’t even settled and it is being flung into the political arena. I know it’s an election year which just exacerbates the problem, but it feels disrespectful to hold up this tragedy for public scrutiny while there are still people in the hospitals fighting for their lives and families struggling to accept that their loved ones are gone. No one expects to say “Have fun at the movies!” as their last words to a friend. These people need privacy and peace and space to cope with the situation before it is jumped all over by political “activists” and news networks. This revives in my my old hatred for the news, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

My stance on guns is summed up well in the way my dad always says it: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Guns are a method for violence, but so is a sharpened pencil or a cup of bleach. You cannot stop evil from happening and you cannot stop people from hurting each other. Taking away guns takes away a weapon, but it also strips away a defense. Handled with care and respect, guns can bring peace of mind to families who would never use it unless absolutely necessary to protect each other. Sure, maybe semi-automatic weapons should not be available, but guns in general shouldn’t be banned. It is part of the constitution and should remain there.

That’s my view, but I don’t believe that both political parties should be jumping into the boxing ring to explain this topic right now. Some people have said “It’s not the time.” Others have said “It’s too late for that conversation.” It sickens me that everything becomes a political statement. I hate that everything can be offensive to someone. I can’t fathom the pain some families and friends are facing right now - the last thing they need is their privacy invaded for a partisan dispute asking for their opinions and statements.

My love and prayers go out to all affected by the shooting. What a tragic event.

July 12, 2012

Finding Balance

I always seem to have epiphanies while driving. I wrote my college essay that way, and tend to think of my blog posts either in the car or on a long way. Probably because it gives me time on my own to think, but who knows, really.

Anyway, yesterday morning was day 13 of my devotional "New Day, New You" that I'm reading on my Bible app. It's been a fabulous devotional - I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, simple blurb to set your day off right. The title of day 13 is "Our Standard is Jesus". It talked about how compared to others we might not be too bad, but compared to Jesus, we pretty much suck. It talks about humbling ourselves and striving to be as Jesus-like as we possible can.

I find it difficult to strike a balance between self-deprecation and self-improvement. It is also hard to find a balance between striving to be like Jesus, and loving yourself because He loves you and you are His creation. It's a fine line, isn't it?

Upon musing, the solution that came to mind is respect. If you think of people you respect, how would you describe them? Would you call them complacent? Probably not, so they are definitely striving to be better. However, you probably wouldn't call them negative or self-conscious either. People you respect tend to be confident yet humble. I'd call that a good place to aim for. You can't love yourself if you don't respect yourself, and you can't reach for Jesus if you are beating yourself up. But you also can't look around you and say "I'm good enough, look at how bad they are!" Your "good-ness" isn't graded on a curve. You'll never be good enough, and yet, you are already good enough. You can never be Jesus, but that shouldn't keep you from trying. But he'll love you no matter what, and realizing that is half the battle. Finding the balance between your worth and your faults is nearly impossible but is so important.

"God doesn't love you because you're valuable. You're valuable because God loves you."