Sunday, September 30, 2007

Presumptions and "Our Interests"

In approximately 1960-1961, at the age of about 9-10, I remember being in a march around the County Courthouse in Lafayette, Indiana protesting some atrocity against Blacks in the Deep South. There weren't that many of us and others out shopping stared at us, most likely never having seen a demonstration before.

The word "atrocity" - above clearly shows my prejudiced perspective. Social justice, non-violence, and liberal-radical political perspectives have always shaped my essence.

In other households in the U.S. - "God" - and through one's vision religion may similarly shape views which may range from radical social activists to fundamentalist families where the word of The Father is supreme.

If I wish to understand and talk with those whose perspectives are radically different from mine I need to listen very carefully and seek a common ground which may be difficult to find.

Apart from differences in perspective often our ideologies color our vision and sometimes lead us astray. It is simple to look at how Bush Administration figures totally misread Iraq before and shortly after The U.S. invaded to "liberate" it. It is harder though to look at how we speak out and turn others against the causes we believe in Not recognizing how our words do the opposite of what we wish them to do at times.

As men we often don't learn to listen to women. As (often White) Americans we make presumptions about both others abroad and minorities within our countries.

In 2004 my partner and I were in London and Italy not long before the November elections. It was fascinating to see worlds where English language television talked about American politics (including CNN) - in fairly open, diverse ways, not stuck in the polarization and limited perspectives we see in the U.S.

I hope that I will find better ways over the rest of my life in working for change in areas such as: Male - violence, Racism, as well as building World Peace - including Palestine, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and beyond.


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