Friday, February 08, 2008

Human Rights Champions Dilemma

I have put off writing about my countercultural understanding of political right and left. Having participted in and observed American political life for almost 50 years I have both a historical and an eclectic (some say sarcastic) view of politics.

As a young adult I was entranced by American politics. I remember listening to the politcal conventions on radio, both parties. Those times are gone, we no longer have conventions but PR supershows. As I approached voting age Catholics finally were welcome on the politcal stage. In 1960 Nancy and I married, had our first child and I voted in my first presidential election.

The challenge of JFK, "what can you do for your country", sounded like the true calling of citizenship envisioned by our founders. This year Barack Obama's idealism brings back that ancient thrill of citizenship. Many of my generation stepped up to JFKs challenge in the Peace Corp. In the process I and many others necessarily had to make some judgment as to where in the political spectrum My beliefs and values placed me.

President Eisenhower's war hero status made him a great president but he was not accepted by his own party even if his warning about the Military Industrial Complex's impact on American ethical values proved to be true. As in any age, I suppose, my perspective is conditioned by what really happened on the ground, not what the books say or the idealogs claim.

As the new democratic adminstration began to function a whole list of indicators came into synch with my Catholic values. The Cuban missle crisis was scary but a real life example of the use of military, power not to go to war, but to bring about a solution to a crisis short of war. I had been in the military and had been put on alert a number of time as the middle east moved into the turmoil we have known all these years.

Civil rights, refugees welcomed from Cuba, all harminized with my Catholic belef that all persons were created equal and each was to be granted full dignity and respect. This became my view of being liberal, a view validated on the ground by real people literally living the value. Yesterday I heard John McCain say to the Conservative Political Action Committee that he held the fundamental conservative belief that "all persons were created equal." No wonder the conservatives hate him! That's the fundamental liberal belief!

I will eventually get to the dilemma of the title of this posting but time and energy have run out for today.

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