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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why Politics Makes Me Hurt

Many people today put their political labels on such a pedestal that even the "compassionate" learn to harden themselves and even the logical learn not to think for themselves. It doesn't matter whether you are conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, if you let your political persuasion decide your views for you, then you have lost sight of your humanness, at least just a little bit.

Let me give two examples: abortion and the poor.

First, let's examine poverty issues. While I do not think either of the major parties has come up with adequate ideas for how to help the poor, I think the Republican party often forgets to be compassionate. Not having a solution is quite different from not giving a damn because you think they somehow deserve it. And anyone who doesn't want the government to be part of the solution had better be doing something on a private citizen level to help, or he or she is a hypocrite of the most selfish kind.

Now what about abortion? The Democratic party makes such a dogma of it that its members frequently feel that being pro-choice is the litmus test for being a good liberal. Let's put that litmus test to the test. Again, while I do not think either of the major parties has come up with adequate ideas for how to ensure women's full rights, I think the Democratic party has forgotten the very concept of compassion in naming the right to kill a positive step. The Democratic nominee for president has gone so far as to put himself on record -- by legal vote -- as opposing the right of a born baby to remain alive. Even if you believe that a person does not gain legal personhood until birth, and that until then the baby is merely part of the mother's body, the mother is free to walk away once that baby is outside her body; how is killing him after the fact going to affect her right not to be pregnant? How does the death of a born child help the unpregnant birth mother?

I know that few Republicans are going to read this post and say "Oh, man! Now I realize that I can't stay Republican!" And Democrats are unlikely to say "Now I see that the Democratic party doesn't represent my perspective after all!" I am not asking you to change your affiliation, or your self-image as a liberal or a conservative. But I am asking you to take a moment and ask yourself if the things you support are compassionate to all people involved. Nobody can hear your thoughts; you do not have to feel disloyal for asking the question. It is all right to ask; thinking people do stop and consider sometimes.

If you are to be truly human, ask yourself hard questions. Put aside the rhetoric of your people, no matter which "side" they are on, and just face the questions as though you were looking at them for the first time. Then ask yourself "What can I do to help my brothers and sisters to work toward a kinder world, even in the places where compassion and rhetoric disagree?"