Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hating the Enemy

Lots of things have conspired to make me really think about the level of hatred and vituperation in the country today. One is this article on right-wing attacks... but I'm not sure there are no liberals equally as inflammatory. They don't have the same media exposure as the Fox crowd, though, so can do less damage. I am concerned that some of the liberal outlets, including Huffington Post and Alternet, publish stories with unnecessarily inflammatory headlines, which often don't do justice to the reporting in the article.

Another part of this is the attack in the Holocaust Museum yesterday coming so soon after the murder of Dr. Tiller. Something that has been pointed out is that the Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing terrorism, that has been so demonized by the right, was talking about exactly this kind of thing, not about right-leaning political commentary (and see this article that points out there was a quite similar document about left-wing extremism). Other articles talk about the continuing campaign against abortion providers that has been deadly to some, continually harasses the rest, and has been successful. Many abortion providers have been driven out of the profession, and it is understandable that they not want to put themselves and their families under so much pressure. The debate has been changed, too, so that even reproductive choice advocates have lost sight of the fact that there are medical needs for late-term abortions that Dr. Tiller met, including the case of the 9 year-old girl who was pregnant and who would have been torn apart by a delivery.

Another strand comes from a book I'm currently reading on the Dalai Lama. He is the religious leader I most respect in the world. The author shows that Buddhism teaches that we are all interconnected, thus hating another person is as senseless as hating your own foot. Pagans, too, tend to believe that everything is interconnected. One of my favorite deities is Kwan Yin, who is a goddess of compassion, and by celebrating her, I am trying to learn more of compassion. I fall far short of it. Yet that compassion has to also be balanced by realism, which Iyer points out is also a large part of the message of the Dalai Lama. He deals in very harsh realities every day, yet has the wisdom to deal with them with compassion.

My mind gets jumbled though, when I try to figure out what is pointing out a harsh reality, and what is hateful speech. Humans rationalize everything, so most of us sees our own speech as reality while decrying the hatefulness of someone else. Reminds me of the old game of pointing out this human inconsistency by showing how we view speech by different people: for example, she sweats like a pig, you perspire, and I glisten. Bill O'Reilly obviously sees himself as a teller of truth, not hatred, and takes no blame for the death of Dr. Tiller despite his continued references demonizing Dr. Tiller. I myself have been known to be pretty heated about Bush and Cheney, and other Republicans, even at times being worried that they would effect a coup in this country before turning over power. In hindsight, that was wrong and may have had harmful effects. At the time, it seemed reasonable.

It seems I must settle for being aware of the issue, trying to be as reasonable as I can be, and hoping that others will be the same. Here is an excellent article that speaks to the need for free speech and to have a dialog about ethical issues such as abortion.

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