Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lessons from the teens

Today I had to pull two students out in to the hall to discuss why they should choose to ignore each other when they are upset.

Unfortunately, I can't take my own advice. I agree with my sweet little Antonio, after you've been kicked and yelled out, you have to stand up for yourself.

Plus, I feel it's only fair to let my reader's know where I actually stand on politics, and if you don't like it . . . by all means quit reading. Those who read often know that I only discuss politics once every three or four months. When I do start talking politics it usually lasts a couple weeks, but then it goes back to book reviews, vacations, (missionary stories have been lacking lately cause I'm too lazy to keep scanning in pictures, but I need to get back to that . . . I've even had my next missionary moment topic selected now for a couple weeks, but scanning photos of my lovely Asian friends just takes so long! Why didn't I jump on the digital band wagon sooner?)

Anyway, the bottom line is, I know I'm not that liberal. To the conservative bubble I grew up in, I am. But in the real world, I truly am not liberal. Ask my Jewish/Christian/Atheist/Muslim/black/white/Hispanic/Asian/gay/straight friends and colleagues here in DC, most would probably assume I'm slightly conservative or maybe just "the middle." This was so reassuring to me when I left my dear sweet Utah. Growing up I was told I was liberal by my AP History teacher, on the first day of class, before I even identified myself. Unfortunately, that is because in the conservative bubble my thoughts and political ideas sound "extreme." After leaving this bubble, (in Malaysia) I quickly realized my thoughts really weren't that unique. In DC, they almost seem conservative. So in the grand scheme of things, yes I identify as a democrat, and I realize that makes me left. But I know I am not far left, I am not an extreme liberal.

For more specifics on why I identify as a democrat feel free to read on. But this write up (like all my posts) are more for myself, thus the title of my blog. I understand saying that in the blog world is totally cliche, but this is how I process things.

What follows is my political ideology in belief, and in personal reason I came to said belief.

First, I don't love Obama.
Belief: If Obama doesn't end this war by the next election I won't vote for him (unless all other candidates are worthless). I hate this war. It was brought up in lies. It costs more money than all other aspects of government. It gives the world the wrong view of what democracy really means. Democracy isn't forced.
Personal experience that enforced belief: The citizens of the Middle East will never buy into Democracy if it is forced on them at gun point. My mission area covered Pakistan, and I had the pleasure of working in the office as the President's assistant. I'll never forget when he told me he couldn't imagine how democracy would work in Pakistan. Laughingly, he told me how every time he called a new Branch President or Elder's Quorum President half the congregation would raise their hand in opposition with each new calling. When he would interview these disagreeing individuals they never had real concerns about the chosen leaders worthiness. They said things like "I want it to be my brother." Or other crazy things. We don't understand the situation the Muslim world lives in (even for the Christians living in the Muslim world, like our fellow brothers and sisters in Pakistan), and we can't force them to do things our way when their lives are threatened daily by starvation, gang rape, homelessness, and now -- a US bomb.

Belief: I support reformed health care. And I hate to break the news to the conservative bubble, but the majority of Americans agree with me. That's why they elected a majority democrat party in the last election. Is the plan they have right now perfect? Probably not. Is it better than the mess we're in right now, maybe not. But why wouldn't we want to try something new. The system we have CLEARLY is not working.
Personal experience that enforced belief: Sheer statistical research. I've mentioned this before, but 40,000 US citizens die each year because of inefficient health insurance coverage. How are we spending billions on a war overseas when that many people die every year right here on our soil? Your neighbors, your family, and yes the homeless man down the street. Do they not deserve our loving care?

I believe all people, regardless of race, gender, and sexual preference deserve the right to live peacefully, with all the respect and rights any other individual gets.
Personal experience that enforced belief: I'm so frustrated each time one of my students cringe when we bring up homosexuality. I don't care if you don't like it -- but they're human. I don't care if you think minorities keep themselves in the slum -- they're human. And we need to treat them as such. I love that quote my mom put on the last comments. "Christ takes the slum out of the people, and then the people take themselves out of the slum." Unless we are actively trying to take the slum out of someone, we have NO RIGHT to judge them for their lifestyle. I spent two years trying to take "the slum" out of slummy neighborhoods. The government was the one thing stopping me from being successful. So yes, I blame the government for the position our inner city minorities live in. It's not the individual's fault, it is the government. Whether we want to admit that or not, it is. The school I taught at didn't have walls for crying out loud! They had no reading materials, I had to get all through generous donors like Bill Gates. They had 8 computers for 900 students. How does that help these kids play equal to the kids who go to the country's suburban neighborhood schools. There is a reason kids stay in their gang banging neighborhoods. Until the government changes their approach, the slums will continue to exist.

Well, those are the big ones. Others, I think our justice system needs to be reworked. Prisons should be "rehabilitation" centers. Otherwise the cycle of imprisonment continues. People who commit truly heinous crimes and are guilty without any reasonable doubt, should be executed without any chance for an appeal. (How's that for going Texas conservative on you?)

Taxes should be high enough to get us out of China's hands (stop the war and most of that is fixed).

I wouldn't even put up a fight if the government tried to legalize marijuana (that may be far left, I'll admit that, but if you do the research -- you quickly learn marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, yet it is the reason for roughly 12% of all "lock-ups." That is not good use of my tax money. I wouldn't support the fight to legalize it, but I wouldn't stop it.)

I support bank regulations. There have to be checks and balances and if the banks and Wall Street can't do that effectively on their own (which I believe they proved they can't), the government better step up and help.

That's really the bottom line, I do believe people should just naturally do the right thing. Then the government wouldn't have to intervene. Sadly, human beings have proven time and time again that they are unable to successfully take care of each other (our need for wealth overcomes us). As a result, I have to try to put my support in the government ideals I believe in.

Very few of these ideals are "far left." Taxes were increased more under Bush than Clinton, so I guess supporting taxes actually shows I'm conservative. Also, Republican Presidents have stopped more wars than any Democratic Presidents, so again, my stance on ending the war makes me more conservative than liberal.

My final belief: most people truly want the same thing, each party just has a different way of executing the plan. I don't think conservatives want to keep killing 40,000 Americans with crappy health insurance. I don't think conservatives really want to keep schools and neighborhoods in slummy conditions, I just don't agree with their way of "fixing" the slummy schools and neighborhoods. But I truly believe very few of us actually want all the problems the US faces to continue. I just believe that currently, democrats have better plans for fixing the problems, not all the problems . . . but most of them. As far as I can tell, the republicans don't have many plans for fixing them . . . just plans for stopping the dems from doing so. I'm not opposed to support the conservative side, but the way the party is currently running (destroying McCain for example) just isn't something I can get on board with right now.

That's all! After this, I'm doing my latest mission memories idea . . . even if that means I waste hours with my scanner!

*** This was not actually published until February 2016 ***

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