Saturday, November 09, 2002

Clearing My Political Fogginess

I ran across this article in Fastcompany, and I thought it really expressed a lot of political feel that I hadn't been able to articulate, with the exception of the hope for third party political parties. But maybe that is the future. Culture

I remember the first time I went to the voting booth. It was 1976. I was 10 years old. I went in with dad, then I went in with mom. When we got back in the car, I asked, "Why didn't you vote for the same person for President?"

Some of my first memories of TV are the Watergate trials. They bumped cartoons for a week or two.

From the article, which is a dialogue between husband and wife.

Anne I know that I'll sound like an earnest fool, but I'd like the change to be more than just politics becoming chic or the government setting up new New Deal programs. The way to rinse out the bad taste left over from the go-go 1980s and 1990s is to stop being arm's-length critics and -- as you say, for starters -- commit to mandatory service for all adults.

Kurt Even, um, middle-aged adults? Do you think this would turn America into Israel, in the good sense, with everyone intimately reconnected to the commonweal?

Anne Absolutely! If Bush and Congress created a practical system in which each of us had to commit one year of service to the country, I'd sign up tomorrow. Right after September 11, I was ready to work for a Giuliani-led antiterrorism task force. Today, I'd gladly work for a year in health care, or in education, or in the EPA.

Kurt That's it! We want to feel unambivalent about politics again.

Anne Unambivalence: the grown-up version of idealism.

What if we "required" one year of full-time service for all Christian adults? Mormons actually require two years, for which they typically do the door to door thing. What if you spent the year building Habitat houses all over the nation or even the world? What if you spent the year in Mexico at a Christian orphanage? What if you spent the year in Brazil reaching out to people who lived in the trash dumps? What if you spent the year in Haiti or Russia or even... Cleveland? or Chicago?

People are more and more ready to make a difference. We are moving away from selfishness... mainly because the economy isn't cooperating anymore. This could be the silver lining of a failing economy -- finding satisfaction in service instead of stuff.

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