Wednesday, September 20, 2006

seeing bill clinton on the daily show reminded me of what a leader of the free world can look like. i had almost forgotten. over the years i have made it a goal of mine to better understand the views of people i disagree with. i grew up in a liberal household and have always led a lifestyle surrounded by liberals and therefore grew up with the belief that conservatives eat their children. i have often therefore found it difficult to understand their opposing views. but at the same time i have known that i am not being fully informed if i only hear the voices of those who parrot my own. i wish that i could remember the quote i once heard by jfk about how he would like to speak to those he disagrees with because he already knows what those that agree with him think. very wise words. that was my goal. to listen to, rather than constantly reacting to, the other side. as if there is only two sides. silly. but i started by listening to rush limbaugh (years ago now) at times on the radio. i know. trial by fire. but if i could start at an extreme i thought i might be able to most quickly learn how to swim by jumping into deep water. over time and in between expletives i began to understand some of the basic conservative beliefs. i could understand that you might believe that what is good for big business is good for companies that employ people and that the more people who are employed then smaller is the number of people who suffer in poverty. ok. if only it were all that simple. but i could see how you might approach things that way economically and socially. with these simple ideas i began to strengthen my ability to listen without reacting. needless to say i have long since stopped listening to conservative hate radio (or its liberal counterpart for that matter). but i do keep my eyes and ears peeled for conservatives, like governor mccain or tony blankley of the washington times and npr's left, right and center show, who i have continued respect for and can easily disagree with whilst fully understanding, and respecting why they believe what they believe. my concern is that the present administration is undoing my good work. it has finally gotten really difficult for me to listen to bush without just bristling. his 'conviction' has morphed into increasingly pissy stubborness and people continue to die as a direct result. and trying to watch cheney on 'meet the press', christ, i just kept fantasizing about grabbing him by the back of his head and pushing his face down into his soup. i once heard the dalai lama refer to the leader of china, because of his continued oppression of the tibetan people, as his greatest teacher about compassion or understanding. with that as the model, ive got an increasing workload with this administration. lots and lots to learn. lots.


matt said...

Makes me wonder when people will begin to vote only by writing in names of ones they know, rather then supporting myths and legends, conglomerates and puppets...

Chris (C. Brian) said...


I know this isn't the JFK quote to which you allude, and -- for some reason -- it seemed relevant:

"When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses, for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment."

I appreciate your thoughts on non-reactive or non-judgemental listening.

Also, the Dalai Lama vignette that you related is powerful. Yes, people teach us things . . . even our enemies!

rowan said...

The JFK sentiment of listening to one's enemies is a crucial principle that every liberal must internalise and pursue to the fullest degree - know your enemy!

that's why it should be mandatory for anyone on the left to read the Financial Times. I'm not saying go and torture yourself by reading the stock pics, but just read the news section - you won't believe some of the shit they actually print. If the working class learned of even half the stuff the FT thinks is a good idea they'd be appalled.

Incidentally, guys like Kennedy didn't mind talking to his enemies as long as they were pointing a nuclear missle to his head. Anything less and you'd better watch out. This is a piece of history every tyrant from Saddam to Amadinejhad has learnt:

The US is willing to talk providing that you have the capacity to destroy them(nuclear deterrance).

If one doesn't possess such a deterrant, like Cuba circa 1960, then talking will not be on the agenda. Hence, 'Operation Northwoods'(