There is a reason that in "polite" society you don't bring up politics and religion. Two subjects so tetchy that maelstroms of verbiage and wrath are wrought at the mere mention of them. And I like to think that, here on the Isle, we are all of that "polite" society where we can co-exist peacefully despite our many differences. In fact, I believe we can co-exist peacefully because, well, we have. I know many of you do not share my political bent nor Christian beliefs. That is A-okay. Our common ground can simply be a mutual respect for each other. I make it a goal to always take each person as I find them, and hope that others will do the same for me. (Because, let's face it, I'm not always a picnic.)
Speaking of not being a picnic, I want to fix our gaze on our nation's capital. Just for a moment. As I said, I don't want to dredge up a bunch of politics because 1) I want to be polite toward and respectful of others, 2) I haven't the energy to deal with the convoluted insanity it has become, and 3) it makes me nauseous.
However, I'm going to sidle up to the border of impolite conversation and broach the topic of politics because I happened upon an epiphanal moment while teaching today.
In my American Literature class, I teach some of the literature created during America's Revolutionary Era. I always get a little misty reading the powerful words of Patrick Henry's "Speech in the Virginia Convention" and Thomas Paine's "The Crisis." (Whatever your feelings toward these men's personal lives and affinities, there's no denying the conviction, vision, and power behind their words.) As a class we read and dissect the charged language of The Declaration of Independence, a document written by men daring to defy a world power they had little hope of defeating. They signed the page believing that it would result in their own (very painful) deaths. Ah, even now goose bumps are starting to form. It was indeed an age of revolution.
Yet, more importantly, it was also considered the Age of Reason.
The wording of the Declaration alone bespeaks the reasonableness and pragmatism with which these men--and, by extension, our country--entered into the task of revolution. Revolutionary, yes. Reactionary, no. Reasonable, in every sense of the word!
Why is this significant, you ask? Because we have, in our country, reached an Age of Unreason. A moment of hurling the pendulum so far opposite from where our country's government began that we are on our ear. It is an age where appointed and elected officials who supposedly represent the people have sacrificed their reason to politically empty rhetoric and posturing. Each side sits in their foxholes and pigeonholes, focus-grouping their next move that will put their adversaries to shame while hoping to add a spit-and-shine to their own shabby reputations. It's not about the good of the American people anymore. It's about which party is in the "right," which party comes out with the least amount of poo spattered on them, which party gets to have their own way. And, as a result, everybody loses. (And, incidentally, everybody starts smelling like poo.)
Are all politicians unreasonable? No. But the group dynamics (basic social psychology, people) in our governmental system are creating serious problems. Has this happened before? Yes. Will it happen again? Probably. But at this moment in time, Revolutionary Spirit has married Reactionary Decisions and given birth to the offspring of Chaos, Stalemate, and Disillusionment. (Come on, Revolutionary Spirit! Divorce stupid Mr. Reactionary, he has been unfaithful to you! Marry Common Sense instead!)
This reminds me of a "lesser known" speech (I'm using the term "lesser known" loosely) given by Benjamin Franklin to the Constitutional Convention that convened in Philadelphia and wrangled over the Constitution of the United States. Franklin, if nothing else, was pragmatic. He had a somewhat cynical view of the convention (and humanity itself, it would seem), feeling that this group of our country's first politicians would be tainted by the passions, proclivities, and personal agendas of those gathered, himself included. However, he finally wrote a speech that had to be read for him because of his weak condition. It was presented on the final day of the convention, and I am always amazed at the leveled reasonableness and humility, even, of his words. Take a minute and read it. I've included below the entire speech because I think it's worth reading: