Thursday, February 4, 2010

Labels Be Gone

I've been thinking a lot lately about all these labels that are being bandied about: fringe left, lunatic liberals, those darn Progressives, etc.

I, like you, am an individual and I, like you, defy all labels.

That's why I scratch my head when pundits and government representatives talk about issues as if they're only about the labeled groups behind them. As if the issues are simply liberal or Progressive and the conversation stops there. It has become a way to neatly derail debate and dismiss issues before they can be addressed. It's a tactic and it sucks.

What makes me a liberal and what makes me a Progressive? As I sit here in my apartment, with my comfy Afghan shoes and Target corduroys, with my cleanly shaved and washed body (finally!) and my Mac. Alone by choice. Straight by who knows what genetic mishap. I sit here aware of a greater force than me - within me and all around me and within all those I happen upon - that can enlighten me if I listen, yet I am also fervently against organized religions. All of these and much more define who I am. So, what am I? Simply a liberal? Simply a Progressive?

It's never that simple. But it seems like everyone keeps trying to make it that simple, so they can make it or me or my issues go away.

What I want for myself and the world is pretty simple. I want individuals of all shapes and sizes, all orientations and backgrounds, all economic levels and abilities - to have a voice and most importantly, to have rights. I want people to be able to choose their own destiny, their own future, their own lovers, their own path. I want those who've lost their way to be given a hand, whether it be my own, some other individual or organization, or the government's. I want the assault of women around the world to stop. I want children to be safe and protected. I want our governments to serve their people and at the same time, to serve the greater good of all nations and all people. I want conflict, at every level, to be resolved through words and laws and actions and concessions which have been fueled by the fire of righteousness and truth. I don't want war to be the answer, ever. I want commerce to be driven by customer needs, not the greed of the self-serving. I want even the most "evil" of criminals or prisoners to be treated with respect, be given the right to a fair defense and trial, no matter what crime they have committed or have been accused of comitting. I don't want torture or the death penalty to be practiced anywhere in the world, by anyone, at any time. There is no ticking bomb scenario that can convince me otherwise. I want government money to be spent to raise up its people, so that the country and the world will be a better place. I want countries like Haiti to be governed by people who won't rape and plunder, who won't keep the riches for themselves while their people live in squalor and ignorance. I want everyone to have the opportunity to be educated and make a life for themselves and their families and I have absolutely no problem with those who attain wealth. But I want all of us to share our wealth - of money, knowledge or experience - to make a better world.

I don't see any of this as laughable. If there are snickers and derision, then I don't know what kind of world those who snicker or deride can possibly want.

Haitians have been the victims of greedy dictators and opportunists, Gordon Gekkos of the Caribbean. I suppose there are people who think this is just fine, but now that an act of nature has leveled this already-bleeding country, these same people probably are angry that we are sending money and aid to Haiti.

If Haiti and her people had been nurtured and built up and given education, opportunity and sustenance, then when the earthquake hit, the world would not have had to come to its aid in such a massive way. We would be there, of course, yet the government of Haiti would not have hidden, cowering somewhere without communicating, without leading its people out of the darkness of destruction. The UN and President Clinton and the US Army and health care professionals and newscasters and rescue squads and cameramen and radio DJs and movie stars from all over the world wouldn't have to fall into that vacuum of leadership and figure out how to steer the way.

I'm not just a liberal, not just a Progressive, not just a woman. I'm an individual human being and I want what's best for me, my family, my friends, my enemies, all living things, my country of origin, the country I'm living in now, my planet and the universe, such as it is. I want to grow, change, evolve. I want to learn to live without fear, so that I can give more of myself.

Go ahead, label me now.