Friday, October 31, 2008

Electing Redemption (or, Requiem for the Culture War)

For those on the fence about this election, there are some excellent fact-based endorsements that are well worth your time and consideration.

As election day approaches, I've been thinking less about whom to vote for (readers of this blog will already know that answer), and thinking much more about what this election actually means.

I've previously talked about how this election is less about ideology and policy, and more about endlessly refighting the disputes of the past vs aspiring to create a possible future.

I am excited beyond words that this election is more meaningful than throwing scat at the wall to decide whom to vote for.

I am also very aware of the true pain this election has rekindled in those that had so much of their hopes and dreams and soul ripped away from them in the 1960s.

As my mind has been wandering around the overarching themes and arcs of this campaign, I believe November 4 will be a collective opportunity to finally step out of the Star Trek'ish time loop we've been stuck in, forever linking us back to 1968.

As we decide whether to break the time loop and fork an alternative time stream, I can't help but ponder:
  • How would our world have been different if the Dream of social equality and social justice had not been gunned down on a Memphis hotel balcony?

  • What if the moral embodiment of hope and our obligation to each other had not been silenced in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel?

  • What if the children of the greatest generation hadn't been ripped into two Americas, forever at each other's throat?

  • What if they hadn't been lost to self indulgence, despair, and defining themselves by their anger/hatred of each other?

  • What if we hadn't doubled down in an unnecessary and unjust war just to make sure that those damn hippies didn't get their way?

  • What if we embraced our moral obligation to equality (civil rights, women's rights) rather than losing the message in the culture war of us vs them?

  • What if we were able to recognize sleaze and incompetence in our leadership and reject dirty tricks and smears, rather than trusting our leaders of having the best interests of the nation at heart?

  • What if we took our obligations to our environment and world more seriously, rather than any discussion of the environment becoming a cruel joke to denigrate those on the other side of the culture war?

Starting Tuesday, we have an opportunity to actually find out.

As we look around us, the echos of the 1960s are becoming tangible all around us: echos in music (Shins, King of Leon), echos in endless wars for reasons long ago forgotten, echos in TV and movies (Mad Men, Bond), and echos in language (socialist, communist, victory at all costs, drill baby drill). What has always been just below the surface is bubbling into plain view. 

After 40 years wandering lost in the desert, we are on the cusp of finally exorcising the cancer of our nation's soul that took root 40 years ago. Now that we can see the beast, how will we confront it? Will we ignore it for yet another generation?

It is time to confront these echos, recognize them for what they are and the importance they once had, feel compassion for the generations lost to the pain and anger of the culture war, and move forward to what could have been (and should have been) 40 years ago.

A New Day is breaking just over the horizon. It is time to look up and face the sun. It is time for the forever war to end, a nation to heal, and the Dream to be redeemed.

Regardless of whom you vote for Tuesday, let us all prey that we will finally move out of the desert, and once again move into the promised land of the American Dream. It is time for redemption.

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