Saturday, March 22, 2008

It Just Might Work?

I want to follow up on a recent thread that got me thinking about diversity, dissent, and debate in America: RevP's, "A Call to Lament and Repent: Guide Our Feet to the Path of Peace." (And for those of you who enjoyed it or found the discussion about our own disagreements interesting, I offer this musical interpretation. Stick with it, it gets there.)

I am reminded of Richard Dreyfuss's discussion of civics and the fact that, "It is be dissenters...we owe ourselves and the United States that we will pass off to our children to relearn the tools of reason, logic, clarity, dissent, civility, and debate...the nonpartisan basis of democracy, and without them we can kiss this thing goodbye." I am reminded that Democracy isn't a state, but a process. It's more of a mechanism than endpoint, move a verb than noun. Democracy isn't something we did, but something we are doing, and we have to keep doing it or we will lose it, and Naomi Wolf has forewarned us in, "The End of America." So we need to know how to disagree.

I would be remiss if I didn't take the opportunity to note the catastrophic effect the neocon Bush administration has had on our ability as a nation to engage in civil discourse. He's a uniter, fellow patriots, and we are united, indeed, in how bitterly we are divided. I liked Kos' "With Us or Against Us" piece:
Reasonable people, including progressives, can disagree on many of the big issues we face today -- from which candidate to support in the primary, to whether impeachment is the best way to hold this administration accountable, to the merit of gun control or free trade agreements, to how to handle immigration, to whatever else faces our nation.
And together, we should be holding our misleaders accountable, and talking about the things we agree about, and also, the things we disagree about.

The opportunity to speak one's dissent is something I find myself valuing in new ways. Last year, a family member lost his larynx in a battle with cancer; talking politics with family hasn't been the same. I miss his voice, even though I disagreed with his election predictions.

Speaking of unruly voices in America...
It was Wesley Clark who said that, "We need an America where debate and dissent and questioning your leaders and holding them accountable is the highest form of patriotism."

And it was J. William Fulbright who said that, "In a Democracy, dissent is an act of faith."

And it was Ari Fleischer who said that, "People just have got to watch what they say and do."

I guess I'm not so good at watching what I say and do...

I appreciate the following depiction of America. It reflects the challenges of our inclusiveness as we struggle together, as we recognize our failings, and keep trying to fix them, daring to believe we might actually pull it off. A wild mix of everyone and everything, together, trying to make it work, a little like some of our threads.

A dream, yes, but a crazy dream that just might work.
"Keep working."

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