Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Real Integrity is Hard to Find

The war of words regarding "values" will continue for months and years ahead as crackpots, pundits, and serious thinkers ponder the 2004 election.

The Bush victory was not a mandate for "Jesusland" and America is far more complex than "Red" vs. "Blue".

The word integrity is used so often that it has been stripped of its original power. Integrity is linked with integration. Integration is a state in which all the parts of a system work together. Sometimes words like "synergy" or "synchronicity" are used as comparisons.

Over time the term integrity has come to mean wholeness of character, a union of motive and action, word and deed that deems an individual to be trustworthy and deserving of respect.

I want to bring these two concepts together and suggest that both conservatives and liberals have much to consider if they are going to be individuals and/or movements with integrity.

Integrity means that the head, heart and hands are united in pursuit of good that goes beyond immediate hedonism or political advantage.

My liberal friends, if you want to claim integrity, you must...

Realize that people are complex creatures and most of them believe in God and moral absolutes, even if they do not always practice what they preach.

The resources you want to allocate to social programs come from hard-working people who merit an accounting for how they are spent. The fact that a large percentage of welfare dollars support middle-class, college-educated government officials grates on the nerves of business leaders.

Understand that America will never be fully loved or trusted by nations and groups that simultaneously envy, hate and seek to undermine her role in the world. Decisions can not be based on the self-interests of nations that despise us!

Recognize that most people are uncomfortable with abortion-as-birth-control and homosexual relationships that want to be called marriages. This is not intolerance and homophobia; it is part of the transcendent morality that goes back 3000 years.

OK, time for conservatives to...

Stop gloating and continuing in the self-deception that 2004 is a mandate to turn to the right on all issues.

Articulate a compassionate conservativism that offers opportunity for the poor to get the help they need to become self-reliant instead of being condescended to by government plutocrats or media demagogues.

Craft policies that allow for less-than-perfect world while recognizing permanent values. Allowing state-by-state civil unions is one such step. Allowing abortion to save the mother's physical life is another.

Get real about the immigration and security challenges we face and work with the other side to solve the "illegals" problem. Are you willing to accept short-term sacrifice of profits from illegal labor in order to establish the rule of law and new worker's visas?

Stop the budgetary chaos and REALLY curb spending, including overbloated defense programs.

There is more both sides need to think about, but integrity does not come pre-packaged and microwavable...it is carefully pursued and has to simmer for a long time. But the flavor of the final product is worth the time!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

No Mourning Here

Yassar Arafat is dead. This is a tragedy only for his immediate family. For the Palestinians, trapped in a prison of hatred and poverty, this is good news. Arafat was the leading terrorist of the second half of the 20th century and the major obstacle to peace with Israel. He missed every opportunity offered to create an independent Palestine.

In 1978, 1992 and as late as 2000 their were occasions for hope - and each was sabotaged by Arafat's unwillingness to compromise even one scintilla.

The problem in the Middle East is not right-wing paranoia in Israel or a lack of creativity from the USA. The real issue is that Arafat could never univocally support Israel's right to exist as a sovereign nation side-by-side with a Palestinian state.

Few in the intelligensia want to hear the truth about Arafat's Nazi-inspired upbringing, the creation of the Palestinian "national" myth and Arafat's refusal to consider seriously living at peace with Israel.

Arafat deserves a place of torment next to Hitler, Satlin, Mao, Pol Pot, assorted Eastern European Communist leaders, and living tyrants such as Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

Arafat and his willing Arab accomplices are to blame for the seething cauldron that is Gaza and the West Bank. The truth is that most of Arab states do not want a peaceful resolution with Israel. They need an enemy such as the Jews. The Arab refugee camps are a safety valve for the radicalism that threatens there own autocracies!

I will not mourn this death. As a man of faith I can pray that Arafat realized his depravity and made peace with his Maker before he breathed his last.

I will not celebrate his death - there are too many dead Israelis and Palestinian Arabs that deserve my tears.

There is no mourning here today, but there is a flicker of hope in my geopolitical soul. After the next few weeks of infighting, we can hope for a voice of reason to emerge from the chaos and willingly sit down and negotiate in good faith.

This new voice will need a powerful shield. The moment any Arab talks real peace with Israel, the assassins are not far behind.

Let's can the rhetoric of U.N. resolutions and "Zionizt racism"(That is an oxymoron, since Israelis hail from scores of countries and ethnicities.) What we need is a statesman willing to renounce terrorism, accept Israel's rightful place and commit to a democratic Palestine. A tall order, but not impossible. The EU and USA would offer massive support and even Israel would breathe easier. More importantly, millions in poverty and hopelessness can have a future.

No mourning here - just a prayer for hope.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A Mandate for Sanity

The 2004 election is over. As pundits reflect, candidates relax and a weary electorate wonders who will leave the island on "Survivor", it is a good moment to consider what the results mean.

We are a polyglot nation, not a deeply divided citizenry. As a people we do not like to be shoved into neat little categories and voting blocks.

We voted for security and intuitive values, while remaining distressed over Iraq and our economic future.

We upheld the sacredness of marriage but (I think ignorantly) funded embryonic stem cell mythology.

We stuck out out tongues at the media elite of two coasts while going to their movies and downloading their music in large numbers.

In the end, it came down to a gut-check and most Americans went with what they thought was a safer choice.

President Bush does not have a mandate to push a rightist social agenda or expand international militarism. He DOES have the nation's blessing to bring Iraq to reasonable stability, pursue terrorists abroad and help stabilize our economy and social programs without increasing government intrusion or largesse.

On a lighter note, Middle America did not want a loose cannon like Teresa Heinz-Kerry in the White House.