At the time, a member of the Brotherhood responded to the Minnesota congresswoman’s rant by quipping: “We can’t even penetrate our own government.”
Traveling across America, I ask a broader statement of America: “Are we big enough to make room for the liberal, secular and more traditional religious segments?” The ideological fight in America wages onward and mirrors extremism found in the Arab Spring.
A negotiation instructor once said, I can deal with the person who cares too much and the person who cares too little. It’s almost impossible to deal with one who doesn’t give a shit. Remarkably, American’s are really adept at not listening to each other. Our own internal dialogue faces tough challenges against the philosophy of limited engagement. In the wake of draconian voter bills, legislatures fighting to protect the lives of unborn children, while hurting the living; lack of support for healthcare, the budget crisis and an environment that doesn’t proactively create work, our society should worry.
Will America experience an Arab Spring? Probably not like that of Egypt’s. For instance, the U.S. “Day of Rage (September 17, 2011),” a set of peaceful protests against corporatism and corporate money in politics, went mostly unnoticed. But Occupy Wall Street did not. Unfortunately, the appetite for serious reform remains illusive.
So … from a Buddhist perspective, what should I be doing and thinking to defuse these tensions and break through egoism? Motive-mongering and demonetization must be called out – stand up just as you would if it were something that was racist or sexist. If we avoid the demonetization, disagreements can be more positive.
Eliminate the use of extremism. While I hate to solely pick on Fox News, but Mother Jones noted the network’s inaccurate and often times bigoted coverage of LGBT issues. Some of the worst examples of contrived hate from just the past two months include:
- Attacking a California law that would protect transgender students as “anarchy and madness“
- Accusing President Obama of being secretly gay
- Peddling lies about a proposed LGBT non-discrimination ordinance in San Antonio
- Mocking “transvestites” and “gays” at a historic New York parade
- Predicting that marriage equality will cause the collapse of civilization
- Referring to a transgender woman as a “burly man wearing a dress“
We need to be more careful about the things we say — about the things that might inadvertently create a hostile climate. But the larger picture is that polarization emanates from the elites. Congress has become extremely polarized and this then drives polarization in so many other realms of society.
We must build relationships, we are always interdependent. I cannot live without you and you cannot live without me.