War Is Not a Counting Game

I am astounded at how the world, particularly the United States, views the conflict in Gaza/Israel. The American liberal press, in fact most of the “prime time” press, views this conflict as an accounting game, to be determined by the body count. Understand, I am a dyed in the wool liberal, old time determined lefty. But on this, the lefties are mostly wrong.

Every article or story I read or see is about a dead or wounded Palestinian child. Now I believe that war is a tragedy for everyone, most especially for the innocents, caught in the violence. And every death is a tragedy and a keen sorrow for those loved ones left behind. We do not, however, see stories about the disabled Israeli children who, for the last years, have gone to the shelters at least once a week so that when it happens for real, as no it has, they won’t be destroyed by the disruption in their routines. We do hear or see the stories of the children and families who go to the shelters multiple, multiple times per day; whose lives, hearts and minds will never be the same from the daily and constant barrage of the rockets. Rockets that come much further into Israel than had every been imagined.

Israel is now, and has always been, expert at defending herself. By necessity obviously as she is surrounded by sworn enemies. Those that say Israel is perfect are blind, she isn’t. But to say that being better at self-defense makes you wrong is not just ignorant it is blatantly ridiculous.

The number of bodies on either side cannot define this or any conflict, nor does it define moral “rightness”. What defines both the conflict and the political catch-22 is that Israel is determined to survive and Hamas is determined that she will not. And those that are innocent on both sides are caught in the middle, living in fear and hoping for sanity and peace.

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Things I Want My Son To Know #23 ~ Value Every Life

The whole country is rejoicing that our armed forces finally got Osama Bin Laden; and well they should. But there is something troubing about the over the top, hysterical parties celebrating death; it is somehow unseemly. The interviews with the first responders who survived 9/11 have a very different tone, and we should learn something from that. They are glad but subdued, they know its right but know it won’t bring anyone back. In general, a death for a death is not a good policy if you really think it through. But, as usual, I digress.

What all this is really about is that we should not celebrate death, we should celebrate life. When you pass a homeless person on the street, don’t laugh or make fun of them; try not to look away. Each of those people is or was the loved one of someone, a son, a daughter, a father, a brother. They are not homeless and dirty because they chose it as a way of life consciously or rationally.

When you meet someone you dislike, try to listen to their point of view; try to understand how they came to it. You may never agree but you may learn something. How people got where they are is extremely instructive about how they think and feel and why.

When you think about crime and criminals remember that nobody is just the one worst thing they have ever done. You don’t want to be judged by the one worst thing you have ever done. They are also sons and daughters of parents who loved them in many cases; in other cases they were the children of terrible abusers. Either way, it is not just about the crime.

When you meet a farmer in overalls, don’t assume you are better then he because you wear a shirt and tie to work. Farmers feed us and, hopefully, take care of the earth. It is terrible hard work, often with little reward. Listen to what he has to say; you will definitely learn something about work ethic and committment.

When you meet the President, whether you agree or disagree, you should respect the office and the terrible obligations it presents. You should be able to hold a conversation ~ be well read enough and know enough about your world to speak with intelligence.

In every case, value what is good in people and don’t dwell on the bad. In every case, be a good listener and you will be a good learner, you will understand people just a little better. In every case, be able to talk to people. When you can talk to a homeless woman on the street and to the President with equal interest, and everyone in between, then you will be a well-rounded person.

Democracy Is Not For Whiners

Ok, I am so tired of everyone’s facebook entries, tweets, etc., today. I can’t say how many people said, in essence, my vote doesn’t count.

What part of your vote always counts do people not understand? As a woman, all I have to do is think about how recent it is that women were allowed to vote. All I have to do is think of the suffering, the beatings and jailings, that brave women endured to give me the right. How dare I squander the privilege. But… There is a difference between winning and having your vote count.

I am a constitution defending geek. And in that tradition I say, and believe, that your vote is the most precious gift your democracy gives you. It is your voice, your chance to say “I disagree”. If one side won by 100% of the vote because the other half stayed home there would be no mandate for elected officials to think about all the electorate once they take office. When you win office by 1% of the vote you darn well know that there is power in the other 49%; that your political life may be short lived.

You vote to be heard, you vote to participate, you don’t always win. That’s the thing about majority rule… the majority rules. You speak your piece and then move on with the business of life, or governing as the case may be. The whole issue of gridlock and elected officials who don’t seem to get this currently is a discussion for another day. But this is the nature of the democratic process.

It is hard to say your piece and lose. It is demanding to accept the will of the majority, particularly when you deeply disagree with the apparent will of the majority. But there is no alternative. There is however, good news ~ there will be another election, another chance to speak, to vote, to win. But you have to wait and work for that day. Those of you who are like minded have to work together to convince another 3 or 4% (in the 51% scenario) that you are right. When that happens, you will win and the other will be the 49%, waiting for you to forget that they are almost half of those represented.

Nobody likes to lose but all of us must, from time to time, in a democratic society. Clearly, democracy is not for whiners.