Friday, April 15, 2005

pat sajak

Pat Sajak has a hub on his site where he complains about how liberals have ruined political discourse in America. It seems you can't say anything in support of our president or a conservative viewpoint without being savaged by the liberals in the media and all around us.

Sajak's column is going to win points with conservative readers who already feel that way about outspoken Far Left-ers, but for thoughtful and reasoned analysis, it falls far short in really saying anything meaningful about the shrill tone of American political discourse. There is no shortage of people on the Far Right who demonize liberals as hating America, freedom and apple pie; who bill anyone on the Left as traitors, lacking a moral backbone, and so on.

It was only six months ago I was hearing that the Left would sell us all out to al Qaeda, that liberals would destroy the institution of marriage, that liberals are a bunch of soft-brained crybabies who want to be coddled, and so on. It was barely two weeks ago that I was hearing that liberals hate life and the people who try to defend it. And I'm regularly reminded on this very forum that the liberals in the media and that prominent Democrats have no ethics, no standards, no sense of fair play, and no grasp of reality.

When you get down to brass tacks, no political party, position or leaning has a dearth of arrogant SOB's, and there's plenty of blame to go around for the lack of reasoned political dialogue.

As Christians, whether liberal or conservative, Right or Left, I think it behooves all to begin the process of reconciliation by looking at ourselves and asking the Lord to show us where we have sinned against one another, and against the world. We're all guilty of looking down our noses at people who we think "just don't get it"; for seeing people as the enemy instead of as other people with different ideas or approaches to improving the world; and for allowing our own sense of right and wrong to drown out our sense of community and love.

Repentance and forgiveness should be our legacy, not arrogance, judgment and "neener neener."

Sajak's right, as far as he goes: There are plenty of loudmouth liberals who have left the planet and lost all sense of proportion. They're the ones who think a comparison between Bush and Hitler is reasonable, if a little unfair to Hitler.

The thing is, it's not the nitwits on the Left alone who have brought public political discourse in the States to a standstill. There are plenty of blowhards and bastards on the Right as well. I used to work for a newspaper where the publisher nuked every staff-written column that criticized Bush policies because they "weren't local enough" while he had no problem with staff-written columns that expressed a pro-Republican viewpoint. (Note that I said "columns" and not "editorials.") And Carol's points about the treatment of liberal views or unapproved lifestyles in the Bible belt are worth remembering.

My underlying point remains that we're barking up the wrong tree when we start pointing the finger at liberals, or at conservatives, and saying "They're so bad." We're missing the point when we sing without ceasing the lament of the Biased Liberal (or Conservative) Media. We're in the wrong when we laugh and say "What's the matter? Can't you handle being the ones out of power?"

We're in the wrong, because we're just as guilty.

Greg, I've sinned. It's been easy -- too easy -- for me to wag the prophetic finger at City Council and bemoan their willful disregard for the rights and needs of my city's poor, and the way they use their eminent domain power to uproot established, home-grown businesses, destroying people's livelihood and removing homes while they claim to be engaged in "redevelopment."

I say I've sinned not because I've been unfair to the City Council or because I've failed to appreciate the economic advantages to having another Starbuck's instead of a privately owned deli.

I've sinned, because there have been many times I've been just as willfully ignorant or negligent of my responsibility to do what's right by my hungry or homeless neighbors.

The city leaders have sinned, and so have I.

I say I've sinned not because it's wrong for me to notice and comment on the transparent bias in a news report; to be disgusted by the shoddy reporting and lazy investigation that went into the story; or to be outraged by the plagiarism I've seen professionals commit, the stories that are so far from reality that it staggers the mind, or the other sins of journalism.

I've sinned, because I've committed the same faults, even if they haven't been in print. There have been times I've allowed my passions to blind me to fairly presenting a situation to my wife, to my employer, to a friend, and to a neutral third party. There have been times I've been too lazy or tired to dig into the truth of a matter and find out what really happened, and so students got away with something they shouldn't, or the wrong person was punished, or everyone was. And there have been times someone's shared ideas with me, and I've passed them, and forgotten to give credit where it was due, or I've claimed to have been an influence for an action I wasn't even involved in.

And like everyone else here, I hate it when things don't go my way and I feel like the people who could help me are completely indifferent to how I need their help.

I've sinned in all these ways and more, and if I had to take bets, I'd wager that everyone who reads this forum has committed those sins too.

So that's why I made my post. There are many times this forum has played host to a game of Look How Stupid They Are. We all get into it in one form or another, either online or at home. We talk about how one group or another doesn't get it, acts as though they think the entire world would be better off if we all thought they way they did, and (of course) we do it with the oft-unstated but still clear understanding that we are different. We, as the better party, understand or are privy to a higher order than the poor slobs we're castigating as proud, judgmental and woefully uninformed.

And that's why I suggest that we all need some prayer and some soul-searching. Because, just like Sajak's column ironically misses the fact that the fault he sees in his liberal friends can be found among conservatives, we all miss the plank in our own eyes.

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