Wednesday, February 22, 2006

There is something I just don't get.

It seems that, in the realm of politics, political thought, and political action, it's a lose-lose situation. First off, there is the ubiquitous liberal-conservative spectrum, which is annoying in and of itself. But then there is the glaring fact that, if you're reading this right now, it means you have access to a computer, and are therefore better off than a lot of people in the world.

So how can I authentically speak of Africa and radical politics and world hunger when I have a place to stay at night, a roof over my head, meals coming my way, even though I volunteer and make next to no money? How can I?

There seems to be very few ways to reconcile this. And, as many of you know, this is the single largest qualm I have when it comes to my place in this world. How in the hell can I reconcile my birth and my privilege as a white American in a world where so many die of hunger and preventable diseases every day, and many more make money off of questionable business practices in the developing world?

I can't become elitist and somehow feel "more" radical or "in-touch-with-suffering" because I spent four months in Africa. What does that matter? I don't live there. I live here, in Minnesota, and I don't ever really worry about where my next meal will come from. Ever. Sure, I'll fast once-a-week (hopefully, still) during Lent, primarily because I want to show a small semblance of solidarity with those who starve to death daily. But what does that do?

Nor can I become complacent or apathetic, because there's no way I can let go of these values that have been seared into my conscience forever. (i.e. Why I never wanted to become a politician on Capitol Hill)

So, what then? Have I asked enough questions for this blog posting? I can certainly ask more. I don't expect answers, but I'm tired of having so many questions that will probably never be resolved.

I feel that we all struggle to find our place in this world. We all realize we are connected to one another, and we all shake our heads to know that people are dying even as I write this blog entry. But what we do about it must go farther than illustrious titles like "conservative" or "liberal". We must go beyond that.

There must be another way. I daresay Jesus had that sort of idea. A way beyond partisan politics. A way beyond empty promises and grandstanding and rhetoric. I would boldly suggest that his was a way of action. A way of doing. A way of peace.

I'm still stuck with, as John Lithgow said once on Third Rock from the Sun, "a mystery wrapped around an enigma, boiled up with a conundrum, and fried in Chinese dipping sauce!"

I don't know the way out. But I am willing to look for it. And I speak from within my privilege. I have no idea what it is like to be homeless, even though I slept outside of the chapel at TLU in boxes once a year. I have no concept of what it means to be malnourished or starving, no matter how many times or how long I fast. I am no better than anyone else, and no amount of rhetoric is going to change that.

I am who I am, and I hope I can do something worthwhile in my time spent here. I hope I can stick with my morals and values, while at the same time be willing to be truly open-minded to the opinions and concerns of others.

I pray that I can exist authentically in this world.


At 6:49 PM , Anonymous Cat said...

I completely agree that partisan politics often get in the way of helping/serving/doing whatever it is they thing they're doing... HOWEVER (yes, there is a however) politic in greek means "people" engaging in public discourse, and political parties were formed because many people had similar ideas on how to make change/keep change from happening. I feel that many who balk from openly engaging in politics do so to cover up their ignorance of specifics on the issues, and by refusing to take part in the politics that already exist, they thus cancel themselves entirely out of the conversation. Is there a way to motivate people, to make them actually DO the things they profess are important to them? Our existing system is very obviously flawed, but I wouldn't throw it out the window... I think a more educated and engaged politik would benefit everyone. There is no way to accomplish what you want on a wide scale unless you engage the wider public and people agree with you. That's politics.

At 6:52 PM , Anonymous Cat said...

P.S. Obviously, our current "liberal-conservative spectrum" is a miss for a lot of people... Few will perfectly fit into that model of human ideology. But I think that our generation's postmodern approach to almost everything (except vainglorious things) is a sad alternative to actually engaging in the available tools (thereby showing how much we care, if it is the case that we do actually care).

At 7:00 PM , Anonymous Cat said...

Apparently, I am not done ranting. Sorry.

You are properly humble- I believe you honestly meditate on your place in the world and its unfair advantage.

Democracy is a wonderful thing- How, then, do we promote Jesus' "third way" in a fashion that will be effective in the lives of everyone else? We have to engage the world... which is politics... and I do agree it would be frustrating because we'd get pegged and wrapped in someone else's idea of a box.

I really like your blog. It's by far my favorite.

At 8:33 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the nagging feeling of despair and inability. For indeed these things are unjust, wrong, sinful - whatever it is you want to call them. But, in my experience, it takes more of a miracle to have compassion on someone of your own race and class who you personally find annoying or disagreeable than it does to have compassion on those far away and out of sight. Love in the abstract is much more attractive than love in the now, in the personal; attached to someone who is right before your eyes and who is not necessarily being repressed our exploited.

What's my point? It's this: take heart. You can do plenty of good in the now while you're thinking over how to do good in the future. And in fact, loving one's literal neighbor may actually be a harder task than loving one's global neighbor.

At 8:33 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

BEN (above)


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