Certainly a time to read a good book, go to an outdoor concert, a play, roller-blade, walk the dog: any of these (washing dishes even) would be a quantum level more enjoyable, healthier or better to do than to listen to the speakers tonight, or next week for that matter. Wait until they are off stage and people can parse their words and remove the glitz and glamour of TV and conventioneering. And, ask questions! Then still more follow-up, probing questions. Personally, I don’t think many people really care. Not a lot of us are engaged in meditative thinking about all this hullabaloo – this precious election. Instead, most of us, I believe, buy-into the airwave-saturating, ear-pounding stories promulgated by Republican PACS.
Instead: let’s try questioning and thinking.
What is most thought-provoking in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking
Conventions are not created to help us think. Instead of attempting to write an essay (itself a tautology), I’d like to share a few quotations from Martin Heidegger, whose wisdom and prescience could well guide our approach to understanding, to getting to the bottom of, how to make this historic decision. Afterall, Mr. & Mrs. Fellow-American, we have a mere 10 weeks before the election.
Think about this fact alone: This election will re-define the Nation. Even though we already hear these words on TV or cable or whatever media we encounter in our always on, 24/7, plugged-in world of immediate everything, our world given over to “blink-thinking,” and “common sense”: most of use don’t really get it. “Tubal detoxification” is the cure recommended by Thomas Pynchon in his novel, Vineland. I agree wholeheartedly. But I want to let Heidegger have his say, so to speak, on questioning as the way.
Based upon what we know now: the Republicans are just saying “no!” to everything. They signed a pledge, “The Pledge” so that they would stick together or be shot politically by a pulling of funding. The Democrats are saying: invest in America now!
Our challenge is to tell Washington we need to go back to work and stop your bickering! You’ve got to come together. We all belong in this nation. Make the right decisions!
Think about it: The Republicans have frozen our progress as a nation of three years. Ever since the President blessed the nation with its long-need, hard-won, universal health care coverage and plan: America’s Health Plan. That just “got the goat” (as my grandmother would’ve said) of a few rich people who worried that in a few years they might not be able to rake such outrageous profits. So what did they do? The Republicans funded Rove and the Koch Brothers and bought the airwaves in an easy-to-spot ploy to misdirect us through over-exposure to ads and media. Forget the lies. Get they to a “tubal detoxification” facility – there are a few open and vibrant tonight!
The Republicans want us to envision America back in 1786 and revert to that-formerly-present-now in their planning. Seems fairly counter-intuitive to me. The Nation is a lot “larger,” more crowded, more diverse, more in need of services, jobs, protection – The Good! Now, on the other hand: our sitting President, who has been attacked unconscionably by many, wants to modify FDR’s successful (!) example and invest now! And, say, put a few million people back to work (after all two of our top Nobel Prize winning economists, even “the Gipper’s” – you know Ronald Reagan, the Elephant Party hero – well his former economic advisor agrees as well; these eminent thinkers confirm that if we invest NOW, we will stop the ever-worsening decline in our economy, our human spirit, in our productivity, and in our ability to spend. We didn’t do enough to save what the Republicans brought on the world in the way of this current world-wide Depression. Investing in our education, our infrastructure, internet security, down-playing war-mongering defense buildups – all that would bring about a virtuous cycle of benefits to us all. By the way “virtuous cycle” is a phrase that originated at Bain (Fred Reichheld).
If we invest now we will again emerge from this Depression healthy and back on our feet. The Republicans, on the other hand, have emerged as the Angry-Father- (or for you Calvinists, God-) figure saying “NO!”. The Tea Party “pundits” are trying to palm off on us family budget planning as the correct and proper epitome against which to measure “the predicament” – [you know: the economic disaster brought on by unregulated commerce, unregulated banking, excess profiteering, et. al.] The truth is that if we invest NOW! We can rebuild ourselves. But that requires a visionary not a hatchet man, which is what Bain taught Romney how to be.
To me there seems to be a great deal of using veils to cover over issues, spotlights being shone on distant objects, complete changing of topics; all done in order to distract our attention, to deflect our vision, and to ensure we are unable to think deeply, meditatively on what is urgent.
Do you really believe Mitt Romney and his “white-hatted” posse can put us back to work? Bain laid people off. The consultant’s approach has been given a variety of names: call it, right-sizing, out-sourcing, rationalizing, off-shoring – I am sure there are other names that obscure what actually happened. I just don’t see how it could work.
The alternative if we are to believe the Republicans who say they can turn the nation around on a dime is that the jobs are being withheld (all while accumulating record profits! by the bye). So: Are the Republicans hiding jobs? If so, stop it, Kantor, Boehner, Ryan, and Romney – just stop sending our jobs off-shore or on the sidelines! We know you’ve been blocking job creation! We also know you are encouraging investment in un-safe technologies, such as frakking, that put our planet at further risk.
So: what am I/we left with? Either the Republicans will pull a rabbit out of their well-heeled top hats and bring the jobs back to the country that they sent off-shore or downsized via Bain’s models; or, our President, Barack Obama, will be allowed to fulfill on his vision and promise for a healthy nation, founded on inclusiveness and sustainability for all. [you all know the Republicans believe in a more exclusive club-type-of-Nation. Republicans don’t believe in sustainability, climate change, inclusiveness or the Christian-ethics of America’s current democratic republic (but I guess I let my colors show: sorry).
So here are just a few quotes about “common sense” and “thinking.
There is the danger that the thought of man today will fall short of the decisions that are coming, decisions of whose specific historical shape we can know nothing – that the man of today will look for these decisions where they can never be made.” …thinking can never tell its thoughts by shouting. … sound common sense … is above all not as absolute as it acts, but rather the shallow product of that manner of forming ideas which is the final fruit of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. … With all the good intentions and all the ceaseless effort, these attempts <at solving problems, thinking through problems> are no more than makeshift patchwork, expedients for the moment. And why? - …because these ideas are from the start incapable of holding themselves open to what is.
To the common comprehension, what is incomprehensible remains forever merely offensive – proof enough to such comprehension, which is convinced it was born comprehending everything, that it is now being imposed upon with an untruth and sham
The one thing of which sound common sense is least capable is acknowledgement and respect. For acknowledgment and respect call for a readiness to let our own attempts at thinking be overturned, again and again, by what is unthought in the thinker’s thought.
Finally: Questioning is the piety of thought.