It's election season again. Can't you tell?
Today, I watched Texas Governor Rick Perry's speech in which he threw his hat in the ring for Republican candidate for President of the US. The man is a forceful speaker, zealous and passionate, and you can tell that he is a firm believer in what he stands for. But I had a hard time understanding his arguments, and why people were cheering his every word. Many of the things he said were things we have heard before, in the last election...and the election before that...and before that...that "the USA really is the greatest last hope of mankind," that "it's time to get America working again," that "change" needs to be brought to Washington, and he is the man to make it happen. Change is a platform nearly every candidate at every level of government has run on, it's just Obama that articulated that message more eloquently than others.
And one more time, we are requested to vote, to pick a side in this toxic politics, a politics that pays no heed to you or me, or the Earth we tread on, the air we breathe, the water we drink. Yes, we now have a plethora of environmental laws that have been passed to "protect:" the American people, and yes, there is much more we could be doing to effectively use those laws to ensure a less polluted present and future. But I am not reassured by the short-sightedness that characterises elections. Candidates seem to be interested in stemming the flow of blood, while the infection grows deeper, evermore complicated. Someone might say, "Well, that's what sells, Darshan." While this may be true, I wonder when time will come when a truer picture of our actions will be painted for voters, if ever.
I do not mean to harp on Rick Perry, or any candidate for that matter, because most all of them look the same to me, regardless of party affiliation. Each candidate seems to cling on to a bullishness that pervades this culture, that we are the best, that we have the "greatest fighting force on the face of this Earth, the US military," that our economy is the only way an economy can be. (In the end, the only differences between policies of the dominant parties are cosmetic.) Some people might mistake bullishness for optimism. Actually, there is a vast difference between the two. Bullishness says we can do no wrong, we've never done wrong, and that "we are the greatest last hope of mankind." Optimism builds on experience, with an understanding that people and institutions are fallible, and that we can remedy our mistakes, and hope that we don't do them again. Indeed, optimism comes out of a security in knowing that we can do better. Bullishness, on the other hand, comes out of insecurity. This insecurity is well-deserved - social structures like "health care" and "social security" and "the economy" are crumbling all around us. They have been propped up by burdening ourselves and the future with ecological crises that are truly vast.
I would hope that each one of us has the optimism that we can envision a vastly different future for ourselves, one in which we consider the impacts of our choices on our communities and neighbourhoods, those that we live in, and those that others live in. We must bear in mind that regardless of what economy and politics we subscribe to, a pristine environment is more important than them. We must reject the bullishness of our ways by recognising the deep insecurities of this violent culture. We all want this world to be a better place, and for that to happen, we must be better people.