Back when I started this blog in January of last year I did so on the heals of the mass murder shootings in Tucson, Arizona. I presented my first blog post as an olive branch to acknowledge that the dialogue between people in this country had turn to rancor and threatened to tear this country apart.
As Gabbi [Gifford] struggles to open her eyes more, maybe we as a nation can also begin to open ours and start viewing others with more dignity and grace than we have for nearly two decades. The political divide in this country has eaten away at the spirit and the soul of our national character and left us mistrusting of our government that was once the pride of the entire world. A government that Lincoln declared was for, by and of the people as he assuaged the hearts and minds of another public assembly following a civil tragedy between Americans on the fields of Gettysburg some 150 years ago.
The national discourse between extremes in this country has reached pitched levels that many of us haven’t seen since the civil rights days of the late 1950’s and most of the 1960’s. The expressed forms of hate and the anger revealed on the faces of those at political rallies and organized events has reached a new high. In the last two years the government that Ms. Giffords has devoted her life to and that is supposed to represent the people of this nation, has devolved into a partisan divide creating a gridlock that resembles more a battlefield than the halls of a democracy that once defied the rule of a monarchy and began the greatest experiment in human freedom the world had ever seen.
Things haven’t changed much since then and some would say it’s gotten even worse as we near the 2012 elections. The campaign money both sides have spent on negative ads is humiliating at a time when too many people can’t scrape enough money together to give their children 2 nutritional meals a day. What a waste.
I fear it may only get worse before it gets better. But we all need to keep doing everything we can to dissolve the partisanship that has developed across the nation. We all need to work a bit more harder and reach across those barriers that have been erected over the last few years before civility is destroyed even more than it has recently. I inaugurated and continue this blog in that endeavor and to put more focus on that which separates us and what we all share in common. The small physical changes I’ve made to my blog here is my symbolic gesture to keep me focused in this direction
As suggested with it’s title and its new tag line and header image, Woodgate’s View continues to work to develop a better perspective of what political and social landscape surrounds us. From the restricted view at lower elevations and the obstructions of mountain sides in our ascent, our understanding of the mountain range itself is limited until we can rise above these obstacles to gain a wider visual layout of that which we have been climbing.
The new header image was done by mine friend Jean Calomeni over at Snoring Dog Studios, who beautifully captured the previous google image replacing the younger female mountain climber with one who more represents myself. I’ve replaced the old tag line of “A Portal to Progressive Views on the Issues of Our Time”, thinking it might send the wrong signal to people searching the blogosphere for more objective sources to become a part of. To be honest too, it was a statement that I used to raise my liberal flag in an effort to connect to other liberals. That concern no longer interests me. The new tag line encourages dialogue while discouraging fidelity to established ideologies.
I want Woodgate’s View to become a forum to share my views with not only like-minded people, but with people who’ve yet to develop any real foundation on critical issues or those who hold opposing views and want a place to have them challenged. But I want it to be a place where thoughtful exchanges occur and not vitriol and blind, baseless accusations.
Opinions are just that and they only have value if they have some basis in fact to support them. But they are not absolutes or truth by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, there are few absolutes in this world and I am pretty certain there are none outside of the physical sciences. I would align myself with short story writer, Harlan Ellison who says that “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
What good is a point of view if it doesn’t have some basis in the facts we have at our disposal. Data that can be researched and information that has withstood the test of time are great equalizers against the rumors, innuendos and bald face lies that people attempt to pass off as opinion.
There are several bloggers who I subscribe to that have been an inspiration to me over time and finding myself often envying their cogent, descriptive styles. One is Scott Erb at World in Motion and another is Ron Byrnes at Pressing Pause. Jean Calomeni, who I commissioned to do my new header image, is also an artful writer at her Snoring Dog Studios blog site on subject matters that engage rather than offend you. All of these people have been pretty consistent about expressing their comments in an open-ended and plausible manner, creating an atmosphere that is non-threatening or demeaning of those people or ideas they may be at odds with.
I have lived 60 plus years and have seen quite a lot in that time. I have also tried to stay informed through readings and conversations with real experts on relevant matters. This doesn’t make me an authority on the subjects I write about. It does, I believe, allow me to form an enlightened opinion that I can share with others and perhaps even debate for the sake of coming as close to the truth as possible on a given issue.
Human beings tend to be fickle creatures and though some think they have a truly independent mind, I think I can honestly say that we are all influenced by events, our environs and other people more than some are willing to acknowledge. We may choose what to eat but can do so only with what’s available and are compelled to nourish our body that tells us when. We may decide where we want to live but cannot control the weather that may flood our homes or get ripped apart by strong winds. These choices depend upon other people being willing to provide food that we can purchase and experts in the regional weather patterns to inform us how safe an area may or may not be.
I have evolved over time and undergone multiple transitions, becoming older and wiser, yet remain imperfect. I have concluded that life is a process in which growing in all human aspects is what is expected of us until the day we breathe our last. What’s after that isn’t clear but I feel comfortable with the notion that if you’re not through growing in this life then there will be opportunities in the next, if one exists. This can only occur if we respectfully and sincerely engage others that share this tiny blue dot with us.
I have found it inhibiting to get locked into one belief system or have a singular aspiration where we become too willing to ignore that the differences amongst the inhabitants of this planet are what makes us unique and makes life more rich and fulfilling. Our growth should consist of the effort to understand the variables amongst us, knowing that a common thread runs through us all that is derived from the same source, be it one’s version of a supernatural, omnipresent deity or through some evolutionary process that began like the tiniest seed of the orchid that produces perennial herbs which are now widely distributed around the earth.
So, Woodgate’s View is an attempt to express things in terms that has a more encompassing view of life and in so doing may point an accusing finger at those who would limit this perspective. I can’t control how some people will interpret what I write. The fact that some views expressed on this blog appear to be more “liberal” than conservative isn’t intended to make that perspective superior to any other view. But I am not going to apologize if my writings don’t concur with someone else’s rigid world view. Some people are simply too thin-skinned to carry out a discourse on issues too deeply ingrained in their being.
Our imaginations can exist to either help us deal with our problems or serve as a means to further isolate us. One is productive, the other, destructive. Fear motivates one where inner courage elevates the other. Neither the self or the collective “we” must cancel the other out totally. It’s a commingling of the two that offers the greatest hope for success if we are to survive as a nation, a species and a member of this universe. The ability to choose resides in the personal will of each and every one of us.
I’ll conclude with this quote I excerpted from a recent Eugene Robinson column that touches on the premise implicit in this post.
This is not about free enterprise, and it’s not about personal liberty; those fundamental principles are unquestioned. But for at least the past 100 years, we have understood capitalism and freedom to exist within a larger context — a complicated, real-world, human context.
Some people begin life at a disadvantage, and it’s in the national interest to open doors of opportunity for them. Some people make mistakes, and it’s in the national interest to create second chances. Some people are too young, too old or too infirm to care for themselves, and it’s in the national interest to secure their welfare.