This I Believe

Bonny - Jericho, Vermont
Entered on December 5, 2006

I think I need to get some oils, a brush and canvas, and find something beautiful to paint. My ability to keep an open mind, a balanced perspective, is challenged daily by the deeply troubling, disturbing events here at home, and abroad. It is as if we have been experiencing a slow, steady leakage of light in the form of hopefulness and optimism,; instead, we are undergoing an infusion of darkness in the form of resignation and apathy.

As a people, how are we to stay engaged, open, optimistic and hopeful in a world where the news is ever more bleak? ’ Scenes from the war in Iraq flash across television screens nightly. We see chaos, destruction, death, and brutality unimaginable, with no end in sight. No exit plan. No plan at all.

How is it possible to keep cynicism at bay in the face of lies, distortion of facts, and political spin coming out of Washington? So much of the communication from our President and our representatives in Congress is contrived, blatantly orchestrated to appeal to our deepest fears and our prejudices.

Who could watch Katrina hit New Orleans and then stomach the buck- passing, or listen to the self-serving explanations of failure, without becoming heartsick? Who can forget the astounding ineptitude of our nation’s emergency response services?

How can we respect members of Congress when they appear to be so mired in partisan politics, incapable of action beyond the rehashing of empty arguments that laid the foundations for where we find ourselves today? How do we move beyond mindsets that keep us so entrenched in the same- old? What happened to the notion of diplomacy? We need to be enlisting the support of our allies, and even engaging our enemies in efforts to broaden perspective, to seek out a common ground where solutions might be found to the problems we face – allowing us the possibility of moving out of the quicksand in which we seem to be sinking.

How did this Country turn on itself? There is no one right way, one right path. . Let’s throw the map open and explore all the possibilities before us. Not just with regard to Iraq but also toward finding solutions to other challenges that threaten the world we share.

We have witnessed, in the recent Democratic sweep, an attempt to call our Senators and House members to action. The election outcome stands as a reminder that we are able to effect change and to hold our Representatives accountable, in some measure, at least. I want more than a change in party control. I want to see the end of the steady stream of drivel fed to the American people by both parties. I want to stop the simplistic, simple-minded proclamation, “If we don’t fight them there, we’ll be fighting them here.” Has the killing and maiming of Iraqis made us safer? Does the continued killing and wounding of American and allied soldiers caught in a civil war in a country torn apart, blown apart, ignited in hatred and rage, make us safer?

I do not doubt the threats we face from those who want to destroy us. I do not deny the importance of conviction and resolve – yet, I believe, as a country, we need to engage, include, expand, reach out, and explore possibilities, options, and alternate routes in our effort to effect change. Who knows, we may discover a course of action where we may hope, a cause for optimism, and that would be something beautiful.