Politics and Interest

Continuing the look back over the first decade of Barataria, this piece is from April 2007. It outlines a disease which has since consumed us – an inability to accept the need to work things out. 

“Politics” is a dirty word.

A common phrase in our world is that we “need to keep politics out” of a given situation. It seems to come from a noble intent, which is the desire to make rational decisions that are best for everyone. But what is it that we are trying to keep out?

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To My Generation, Gen-X

The war of the generations is heating up. The fight for supremacy between Boomers and Millenials in social, economic, and fashion is now the key distinction in the Democratic Party and to a lesser extent the Republican Party as well. Bridging the gap, as usual, are Gen-Xers – now poised to become the glue that holds everything together.

How messed up does the world have to be to have it come to this?

People of my generation, we know that no one can speak for all of us. So let me speak for the Gen-X generation and you can decide for yourself. You don’t have the time to listen to me whine so I’ll be as brief as I can:

It’s up to us, like it or not. We can either start leading or stand around and tell the Millenials to get off our lawn while we wait for the Boomers to die off.

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Pope Francis, Teacher

Pope Francis has arrived in the United States.

The focus on his Holiness revolves around his challenges to the American right, something that largely misses the point. There will be admonishments to the left as well when he addresses Congress and the people of our nation – and those will likely be reported with a hint of glee in the press as they search for an “objective” sense of “balance”. But that, too, will miss the point.

Francis challenges all of us to step outside of our bizzy lives and see the world as a beautiful place. The message is that it is time to stop and see creation for what it is.

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Pop Inspiration

The tidbits of popular inspiration roll through twitter and facebook in a nearly constant stream.  You want your stuff retweeted or shared through the networks?  Come up with a bit of folk enlightenment, maybe put it into a jpg pic as a “meme” (a horrible mis-use of that word!).  Keep it simple – a quick saying or maybe a set of “tips” devoid of heavy philosophy that could wear down a bizzy day.  It could be a Bible verse or a simple admonishment to be a more decent person.

There’s nothing wrong with this sort of stuff, and it probably has been present throughout the history of human interaction.  But the volume and popularity of these sorts of things leads me to wonder if there isn’t a hunger for spirituality and connection that is missing from the ordinary grind of the day.  There appears to be a missing presence in the moment, a sense that ghosts float past our conscience whispering a calling to be a better part of the world.
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A Worker’s Paradise?

A reflection for May Day, the International Worker’s Day.

Imagine for a moment that you live in the most fair and equitable economy you can dream up.  There are some very specific things that most people in the developed world, especially Americans, would think would be a part of this.

There would be upward mobility, where family circumstances do not determine the kids’ future.  People could find their own way according to their own talents and choices as to what makes a good life.  Money would rarely limit dreams, as a free-flowing capital market would provide funding for good ideas at reasonable rates.  Most would own their own homes and have control over their own destiny.  Workers would own the company they work for, banking their retirement at a reasonable age on the place that they helped build.  Basics like food and access to health care would not be expensive.

Such a place is the embodiment of pieces of both the Democratic and Republican parties in odd turns.  This place of the imagination has also been  pretty close to the perfect state envisioned by Karl Marx, although it may be descending into an oligarchy (which I prefer to call “gangster state”).

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Exstasism

For many reasons, I need to run a repeat today.  I’ll tell you about it later.  Next week will be a good one, and this actually leads off some of what I have to say well.

Our current world, at least in developed societies, rarely has time for reflection.  Far too often we are expected to mechanically keep going through our daily slog.  The only antidote offered is selfishness, rebellion and retreat back into our own skin for a few moments of pleasure.

That system is obviously not bringing happiness to many people’s lives.  I would like to propose an alternative outlook on life which I will call “extasism”.
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Pragmatism

My team, 2491 No Mythic, is competing in the North Star FIRST Robotics tournament.  I have to resort to a repeat, but it’s a timely one that gets to the heart of this week’s posts.

You probably have a better idea about how to do something. But will it work? You’ll never know until you try. When you do give it a go, you may find that getting there requires a lot of compromises along the way before your dream is realized. Or, perhaps, you’ll simply give up – blaming your own inability to make it happen or blaming the world for being so darned unfair.

Both experiences are simply part of human nature meeting reality. We’re all idealists at heart, at least in a certain sense. Only a few people have the skills necessary to make those dreams a reality and much of the time they have to keep their eyes on the prize. A dream is one thing, but getting there requires wide-awake attention.

That is why an open, democratic political system can’t live by rigid ideology alone.

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