A Narrow World
Copyright © by Len Holman, 7/31/12
There is something to be said for living in the moment: peace, tranquility, appreciation of the world around you, and the contentment of just being alive. This means not only stopping to smell the roses, but realizing there ARE roses to smell. It doesn’t mean—as certain very conservative politicians seem to believe—that the world should be narrowed down to the misogynist, intolerant, ignorant and foolish parameters of a very restricted world view. It doesn’t mean that one should be stuck in amber and petrified for all time. Actually, “world view” isn’t even close to an adequate phrase for what these people see and how they behave—and want others to see and how they want them to behave.
Take Michele Bachmann, for example. Please. She is convinced that the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating our government, and though her rantings are being compared, even within “Republican circles, to a nasal echo of Senator McCarthy, she never relents in her insistence that—except for her reality and that of her minions—the world is going to hell in a burqua. Her opinion would be sadly laughable were it not for the fact that she has a lot of support, raising one million dollars in the 25 days after she first made her charges, enriching her re-election coffers. She has accused Huma Abedin, wife of the notorious New York congressmen Anthony Weiner (he of Fruit-of-the-Loom fame), of having family ties to the evil Muslim empire, of being part of an international conspiracy to sabotage the United States. Abedin has served as Secretary of State Clinton’s deputy chief of staff since Hillary was the First Lady. Newt Gingrich has defended Bachmann in an op-ed piece, suggesting ominously that political correctness is interfering with a legitimate question about national security. There have been some who broke ranks and defended Abedin’s character, such as Sen. John McCain and Speaker Boehner (when does Hillary slap Michele’s face, or at least speak out for Abedin?). Bachmann is in her moment—and has been for some time—and, apparently, no amount of fact, no lack of evidence, is enough to jar her from her paranoid reveries.
Mitt Romney is not immune to this syndrome. He spends a lot of time (and cash) decrying Obama’s handling of the economy, including the auto industry bailout (which saved three million jobs) but has spent the last week stumbling from one overseas venue to the next, making ignorant and uninformed statements about a world he certainly seems to know very little about. He, too, is stuck in his moment, far from the realities of a very large and complex world. Here is a man, for whom the old saw about George W. Bush’s privileged upbringing applies: “He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple,” not a head of state (except the state of his own restricted mental landscape), talking about Olympic security and Palestinian culture and the apocalyptic Iranian mindset, then backing and filling when questioned about it all, angry at the media for prying. The Buddhist doctrine of “being in the moment” was never meant to be an excuse for not being aware of the world, and the people and cultures in it, for the Buddha was a practical man who knew of the daily lives of the people he met.
Think back to the primaries and remember some those stalwarts of Tea Party fondness: Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain “Uz-beki-beki-beki-stan”), Bachmann, Gingrich (who thinks of himself as a pudgy Socrates, but who is to Socrates as Sylvester is to a mountain lion), and decide whether ANY of them know ANYTHING about the wider world, the world outside their prejudiced and blinkered beliefs. I want a president who thinks the world is a big place, who thinks he or she might be wrong and is willing to change to match what is, and not pout because that world doesn’t match unfounded belief unsupported by fact. I want a person with a wide-ranging mind who considers more possibilities than any dogma allows. Remember that Winston Churchill, after meeting FDR, said, succinctly: “Second class intellect, first-class temperament.”
A temperament is part of a world-view which demands exploration outside the lines. Some people, of course, cannot be dissuaded to go outside their comfort zone, overthrow their upbringing, ignore the forest to look at individual trees, and come to a conclusion which they are willing—should it prove not viable—to discard and try something else. The media is not set up to deeply explore what a candidate really thinks and WHY. Constituents are not trained to think about issues in any significant way. America, as a whole, is stuck in amber, with a narrow view of anyplace, any peoples, any cultures, any political systems, outside its borders. As this country sinks slowly into a morass of bumper sticker discussions, as we do not educate our children, feed our hungry, administer to the nation’s health, we—come the November elections—will take our moment into the voting booth. If Romney wins, the nation will be in HIS moment, and that moment will NOT be one remembered fondly.
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