There's been an interesting and provocative thread of commentary around my recent post about Governor Perry as a candidate, or another about prayer and drought. The comments pick up on thoughts that have been expressed whenever I write about politics or the environment. I've decided, rather than answer in comments, as I normally do, I will answer in a post, so I can better explain what I'm doing and why.
I have to admit that I've been fearful--or perhaps shy, or hesitant--of approaching political issues. I've never done it before, publicly--or rather, not since high school and college, when I became a feminist. When I went into the working world, I put politics to the side, and chose to make a difference in my career by modeling "break the ceiling" behavior--and expanding choices for other women.
But these days, I find myself thinking a great deal about what's going on in the world. I watched the moonrise over the marsh, and thought about how my time is passing. My children will inherit what we leave behind. What am I doing about that?
Just because I want a life that bends towards gratitude for the small things, (which makes them big things!) doesn't mean that I want to lean away from the large, communal activities that citizenship requires. If anything, I lean in harder, now. The more deeply I fill with gratitude for this gorgeous world, the more fiercely I want to protect it, fight what threatens it, do what I can to make things better so that my children can have the same blessings bestowed upon them that I have had.
I've thought about starting another blog, one that is pure politics. But you know what? Right now, at least, I don't want to buy into that old dichotomy--that the person who cares about and takes seriously her house and garden is not the same person who cares about her home in this garden of a world. I think I can find a balance here--just as I have to find one in my life.
There must be a way to be a "slow love citizen". For me, that means first, I learn about issues--which is fun, exciting, interesting. That's one reason I share what I'm learning here. Of course I read the counter-arguments--though frankly, I can't see an argument in defense of pollution, or poverty. (I do, however, know full well that there are many ways to accomplish the same goals--and in some things I bend leftward, in others, quite rightward.) Second, I keep my moral compass firmly in place: what makes life better for people? what causes harm? what distorts reality, where is the truth? Then I take my stand--and that's what I write about here. My stand.
I have not waded into these subjects without carefully examining the waters. And I see that they are deep, indeed. Political and environmental issues make waves. These days, even writing about light bulbs is controversial. I've recently dipped a few toes into the surf--partly to see how I like writing about these subjects (very much) and partly to see how readers respond (also fascinating.) I don't even mind the riptides.
These are turbulent times. A wobbly economy, in which we watch our savings shrink, is terrifying--especially to those of us who don't have full-time jobs. Unemployment levels are frightening--and they loom larger to our children. The waste and pollution we generate is staggering--and every month we learn more from doctors and scientists about how those contribute to poor health--and death.
I have some insecurity, or hesitation, in speaking my mind on these subjects--and yes, sea glass is easy by comparison, till you start to wonder about all that plastic...But I think it is necessary to speak up, to learn together, to argue, to make choices and take stands. To learn how to talk about subjects that are often divisive. We should be able to do that.
It is one thing to be uncomfortable with talking about politics at all. It is another to be uncomfortable with an opposing opinion. I'm trying to learn how to engage in these subjects with the urgency they demand.
Frankly, I think we should all be developing and practicing ways to approach politics that get us beyond the name-calling, the stomach-heaving nastiness, the destructive, superficial and distorting rhetoric. We should all be helping each other set our moral compasses: what's important in keeping our bearings? We will find different, equally legitimate paths to get to the same places--but what's important is, where do we want to go? --as individuals, and as a country.
I'm sorry that some readers are alienated by the inclusion of politics and the environment in this blog--but then again, I can't think of a single publication, online or off, in which I agree with absolutely everything that has been included--subjects or opinions. And I'm delighted to engage with your thoughts and opinions. You'll let me know when I'm off on my facts--or my tone.
I have to live with myself--and the self I am now feels morally compelled to speak up about difficult, unpleasant, and even frightening subjects.
I like to think that this blog is big enough for all of life, from sea glass to glass ceilings to debt ceilings. All are welcome to read, skip, delete, unsubscribe and come back! All are welcome to comment on any subject--regardless of political or aesthetic persuasion.
Bear in mind: the slow love life is neither slow nor escapist--not all the time, anyway. We're all caught in the mad, maddening, thrilling swirl of work and love. We all want to learn how to dig deeper, ground ourselves. Total escapism doesn't do anyone any good--including the person who has put herself into hiding.
You can shut the doors and windows, lock the garden gate, tuck yourself into an exquisitely-appointed bed--but no matter what you do, you live in a big, booming, buzzing world that is going to touch you wherever you hide. It is a world that urgently, more than ever, needs intelligent attention, and the generous care of our hearts and souls. Let's keep talking.