Rededicating My Blog

 

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.

 

The view is always better at the top but the thrill is often in the ride.

 

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21 responses to “Rededicating My Blog

  1. I wish we could all live by Robinson’s words. We are a fractured nation now. This election has done incredible damage to all of us. Citizens United has done incredible damage with its injection of obscene amounts of money into Mitt’s campaign. Yes, Mitt’s, not Obama’s. In our nation we have an under culture of super wealthy who are driven to maintain their status quo at all costs. I’m afraid that what we’ve seen created is a wider gap between the haves and the have-nots. It seems almost unbridgeable.

    I’ve been preparing myself mentally and emotionally for a Republican-dominated government and hope, perhaps beyond hope, that sensible minds will prevail and the unfortunate and disadvantaged in our society won’t be shoved to the side to pull themselves up without assistance. I hope we can restore compassion to our decisions about health care, education, public assistance and taxation. I hope this nation can heal itself but it can’t do it until we become less at war with each other. I’m struggling to see both sides myself, but it isn’t always easy.

    Thank you for the links and for the fine, much-appreciated compliment. Your post today just reaffirms why I keep you at the top of my reading list. You are a generous soul, Larry. I’m glad to know you.

    • “You are a generous soul, Larry. I’m glad to know you”

      The feeling is mutual Jean

      “Citizens United has done incredible damage with its injection of obscene amounts of money into Mitt’s campaign. Yes, Mitt’s, not Obama’s.”

      I agree Jean but to be honest, the corporate money will go to the candidate that has the best chance to win. So in those districts that Democrats have an easy time with, you will see the same money that goes to Republicans often filling the coffers of some Democrats.

      This year however the GOP’s odds at winning numerous elections are better than they were in2008 so you will not only see more money going to the Republicans but larger amounts from individuals and their companies. As you recall, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. gave a million dollars to the the Republican Governors Assoc. last year.

      • I agree with you about where the money goes but to a limited extent. I heard a very disturbing interview with Jane Mayer of the New Yorker the other night on NPR. There is absolutely no comparison between the amount of money going to Republicans and the much less going to Dems. We’ve never seen anything like this before. Here’s the link: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/08/27/120827fa_fact_mayer. Shmooze or Lose is the name of the article.

      • “There is absolutely no comparison between the amount of money going to Republicans and the much less going to Dems. We’ve never seen anything like this before.”

        Totally agree. Another report from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that the GOP is outspending Democrats nearly 10 to 1 this year. All I was suggesting is that when one Party appears to have the upper hand, that’s where corporate money will focus. Though Democrats in 2008 collected no where near the corporate and private money being collected today by Republicans, they were collecting far more overall than the GOP was, and much of that from some of the same type of people who are dumping generous amounts into GOP coffers today.

        For example, where the financial industry was giving nearly 40% more to Obama than McCain in 2008, they have turned around and are now giving more than twice as much to Romney than they are Obama in 2012.

  2. I like the new look and will continue to look forward to more insightful posts. Not that your posts are not insightful, I’m just looking forward to more of them 🙂

  3. Like the new look and focus! Democracy should welcome disagreement and embrace what Walter Lippmann called “the essential opposition.” Instead we’ve veered to being two warring camps with world views shaped by ideological interpretations of reality. Lippmann said listening and engaging different perspectives honestly was essential. There’s nothing wrong with stating a strong opinion – it’s part of the process. The problem comes when one cuts off dialogue. So in my opinion your blog re-dedication reflects true democratic values.

  4. Jean did a great job. And I sympathize with your goal entirely. I hope you are more successful than I was in being a forum for discussion. I soon degenerated into your average partisan rag for sure. But I could never attract the middle, just the far right who only came to spew. I love your blog and your thoughts.

    • Thanks Sherry. Don’t cut yourself short though. You have a way about you that may not attract so-called moderates but one in which I find incisive and stimulating. There is an audience out there for your opinions.

  5. I’m glad you’re blogging, Larry. Your taking things to the next level, ascending above parties, is ideal. Our nation’s life should not be a football game where diehard fans choose sides and paint their faces. I wish you discernment and continued wisdom.

  6. I’ve always valued your writings, going back to our AC days….I admire your intention, but offer words of caution. The right has always been adept at using our desire for civility and graceful exchange of ideas against us. They operate on the principles of shouting first, shouting loudest, and screaming fire. A peaceful discussion over coffee is desirable, but hard to accomplish in that kind of environment. I’m not saying we need to shout first and loudest, but with facts and strength of conviction, call them out. There is little to be gained in trying to engage tea party types, and more to be accomplished by reducing their recruiting through educating others. I’m thinking that’s what you have in mind, and I applaud you for it. It is a hard recipe to hit upon.

    • One of the great things about writing on my own blog Jeff as opposed to the pages on AC is that I can control the content and responses of others. There are indeed those on the right who want to do nothing but shout you down and divest themselves of facts or discussing common points.

      I simply trash any comments that reflect this attitude. I have learned as you that these people are not interested in a civil discourse about the issues.

      On the other hand there are those who can make a good argument with knowledgable information that will disagree with me. Sean over at “Reflections of a Rational Republican” is a case in point. I hope to engage them, not to change them, but to find out why they take the view they do and allow them to see what it is that makes me take another perspective.

      I have concluded that we all simply don’t filter things the same but as long as we are using science, sincerity and a willingness to tolerate other views, we actually can live in a world peaceably without projecting ugly caricatures toward those who don’t share our views.

      It is my sincere hope that there are still more people out there like this than there are the fringe-nuts that get way too much attention these days.

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