The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, February 04, 2008

What Lies Do They Tell?

At a party recently, political discussions arose, one attendee waxing enthusiastic about Obama to a well-known black actor. The actor maintained a neutral expression for most of it, and then informed the speaker that he was working for Clinton. There was a bit of tightness about his face, and I had the definite impression that he had been forced to be defensive about his choice. My reaction was “may the best person win—whoever would do the better job, I hope they win.” Relaxation. Whew. Dodged that bullet…
Then of course over the last weeks, we’ve had lotsa controversy about whether race or gender should be the stronger determinate. It may or may not mean anything, but I’ve seen dozens of speeched, articles and posts specifically about “a woman in the white house” (including some by the candidate herself). Draw what conclusions you will about what it means that women speak much more bluntly about this than black people do about “an African-American in the White House.” I’m sure we have opinions about what that means, but that’s another conversation. I found myself quite annoyed that Oprah was accused of being a traitor to her vagina by supporting Obama. Much as, obviously, the actor was pressured to vote/support according to his race. Sigh. You know, it’s the most natural thing in the world. No one could look at the history of the U.S., with every president and every major presidential contender of the first 200 years being a White Male, and not think that human beings vote or contribute according to race or gender—unless you think White Males are just vastly superior, OF COURSE that’s what people do.

Until they feel safe enough to connect more deeply with their sense of individual existence, and divine guidance. At that point, you can grow past the tribal/gender stuff, and see more of the qualities of human beings separate from these relatively trivial things.

Whatever decision you guys make, I hope to God that you wouldn’t vote for Obama or Clinton primarily on the basis of race or gender. If you do, friend, you are a part of the problem, no matter what your intentions.
How do you rise above this stuff? Those of you who have watched me struggle with racial issues here should guess the answer: you have to process it. Go into it. During your morning meditations or journaling sessions, be honest about your wounds, fears, resentments. If there is someone you hate or resent, first connect with your own heart, and then see if you can connect with theirs. Can you understand their actions without placing yourself above them? Can you look at a thief, molester, murderer and still find their humanity? A terrorist, without assuming superiority or demonizing them? Can you grasp that someone might have felt America was deserving of 9/11 without either considering them crazy or “correct” or stupid? Can you look at your negative relationship history and see your own responsibility for the disasters without hating yourself? Can you forgive someone who has cheated you without dropping your guard against the next con artist you meet?

The ability to face fears, pains, betrayals, attacks, disappointments, without either losing your sense of personal power or considering yourself superior to others is the way to resolve those dualities and move on to the next level in your life. Every time you do it, you free up the energy invested in maintaining the artificial distinctions.

This does NOT mean not protecting yourself, or having priorities in life. I don’t have to have negative feelings about illegal aliens (I’m sure I’d sneak across the border too, if I was in their place) to know that we have as much of a right to protect our nation as Mexico has. Last time I looked, they had laws and borders and don’t appreciate them being disrespected. I have few rules, but one of the most important is that I will NEVER accept being treated with less respect than the other person demands. I will watch the way they behave, the way they react to being interrupted, or yelled at, or deferred to, or whatever. If they then demonstrate those behaviors toward me, I assume that it means whatever THEY thought it meant. That’s their language. Clearly, Mexicans consider national boundaries to be important. It is therefore hypocritical and pure politics to pretend that we’re doing something wrong to protect our borders. We’d be just as hypocritical…don’t get me wrong. But I can “get the joke” and still want employers punished for hiring Illegals, and still want to offer green cards to Illegals who turn those employers in.

I don’t have to hate a mugger to thump him, or hate a child murderer to execute him. I just don’t. The easiest way to get peole to march is to stir their emotions. I plead with you to look into your fears and resentments. YOU CAN’T THINK THROUGH THIS STUFF. You have to FEEL your way through it. Intellect will just try to convince you that hell, YOU don’t have unconscious motivations. You don’t have unreasoning prejudices programmed from childhood. YOU aren’t driven by fear and pain.

The more people protest that they aren’t, unless they have perfect bodies, perfect relationships, and perfect careers…I know they are in deep denial, driven by drives with which they have no conscious contact.

One of the best ways to learn to detect this in yourself is to watch the way it works in others. Look at their relationship history, their physical body, and their career satisfaction. IF they are responsible for the results in these arenas (and aren’t Adults supposed to be responsible?), what do their results suggest? Assume that every human being walking the planet feels two things:
1) Alone
2) Afraid
Choose someone in your life and apply the Question of the Day:

1)What do they do with their loneliness and fear?
2) What lies do they tell about it?

Remember: pay FAR MORE attention to what you see than to their explanations. When you’ve done this to a few hundred people, you’ll start seeing right through your own bullshit. Kind of scarey, really.


Mar said...

Lies? If we could tell the difference between lies and truth, every time, we would be God. We each take what we can find, process into something that we can define, and operate on that.

Obama, Clinton, McCain, Romney, Huckabee? Who? Reading some conservative sites, and following the links to other blogs and articles, I find that the Conservatives (their capital "C") HATE McCain. They don't like anyone else much either. Bush is the betrayer. Romney is Mormon. Huckabee is the least of the various evils.

Clinton and Obama are discussed usually as the most palatable fall guy. The reasons are lists of reasons, for me, to vote for either one of them. The irony here is the anti-Democrat sites give me more good reasons to vote for either Obama or Clinton than the supposed liberal sites. Those seem to focus on "Bill Slams Barack," "Obama snubs Hillary," "We're having the time of our lives."

It's a crap shoot. Like Maria Shriver, I want to support the person who will unite this country.

About the question(s) of the day:
1)What do they do with their loneliness and fear?
2) What lies do they tell about it?

1) nothing
2) everything will be all right.

Stephanie said...

Honestly ... seven years of G.W. Bush have made it easy to make issues the eprimary consideration in my choice (I'm off to the primary to support Obama). As a white woman with an African American great-great grandmother and a Cherolkee great grandmother, it might have been a question at another time...
But given what I've seen our country become since 2000, it's very easy to see issues first and race and gender just don't come into it for me (except I"m happy that not everyone on stage is a carbon copy of everyone else - but had it been a white man answering the questions right, I'd be voting for him).

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Where do you stand about capital punishment?

I'm inclined to think it's such strong stuff that people can't be trusted to apply it meticulously.

Steven Barnes said...

IF it were possible to be absolutely certain the perp was guilty, and IF the punishment were applied equally (regardless of race, gender, or income) I'd have very little problem with capital punishment. But since neither of those things are true, I'm against it.

Pagan Topologist said...

I voted for Obama in the Delaware primary this morning. I am distressed that many people I know, white and black, think that the Republicans want Obama because he would be easier to beat, so they are voting for Clinton. I just think she is unacceptable, since she is really too far right for my tastes. Obama is almost as far right, but he seems to be an effective uniter, not divider, of people. Clinton is, whether it is her fault or not, someone who polarizes.

Anonymous said...

I'm eagerly waiting for the polls to open
herre in upstate New York
I was most disturbed when I went
to my past local polling place at 9:00
and found no sign of anything

the only folks missing
from that YouTube video
which I liked anyway
was an old crone or two
like me

not all of us are
resistant to change
and ending the dynastic approach . . .


Dan Moran said...

"Clinton is, whether it is her fault or not, someone who polarizes."

Shrug. If Obama wins, wait and see how polarizing conservatives find that....

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Here's why I brought up capital punishment:

I don’t have to hate a mugger to thump him, or hate a child murderer to execute him.

LaVeda H. Mason said...

Mr. Barnes, you ask *wonderful*, insightful questions!

These are some really good ideas to think about. I am extremely grateful for the Internet, because it seems that I have been the only person around here that thinks this way. (Yes, I know, it's time to get out of 'here', lol!!)

I agree with mar's answer to the question, it all boils down to 'it will be okay', without any idea of what needs to be done or any work being done to make it that way.

The race between Clinton and Obama is fascinating. While I am leaning toward Obama, I can understand why Clinton is doing so well.

The Republicans? Pffft. Negativity and fear, all the way. Totally repellant to me. I've got enough of that in my life, heck, in my *soul*, that I'm busily exorcising, without taking on more.