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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-10-28 - 12:23 p.m.

...and Let it Begin With Me

I watched my 15-year old granddaughter compete in her high school’s cross-country race yesterday afternoon in Napa. Chelsea won, breaking the 2.9 mile hilly course record. After the girls had cooled down a bit, I was thrilled to see Chelsea and the girl who came in second from an opposing team congratulate each other with a big hug. Although they are from competing schools, they also compete as Buffalo Babes and will be going to Chicago to race in the Junior Olympics. I guess I was especially struck by this good sportsmanship because of the lack we’re seeing in the political arena this year.

I’m appalled by the dirty tricks, voter suppression, “loss” of absentee ballots, verbal attacks, etc. – regardless of which side is responsible. It leaves a hole in my heart to think this is democracy at its finest? We need better examples for our young people. Or perhaps our politicians should follow the example of our teens?

I’m reminded of a song we used to sing at the Unitarian Church in New Orleans – “Let There be Peace on Earth…and let it begin with me.” Maybe we should resurrect that and begin our sporting events with that instead of a song that glorifies war.

An excerpt from
A Hole in the Heart

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN


...How do we begin to repair this jagged hole? There is no cure-all, but three big things would help. One is a different U.S. approach to the world. The Bush-Cheney team bears a big responsibility for this hole because it nakedly exploited 9/11 to push a far-right Republican agenda, domestically and globally, for which it had no mandate. When U.S. policy makes such a profound lurch to the right, when we start exporting fear instead of hope, the whole center of gravity of the world is affected. Countries reposition themselves in relation to us.

Had the administration been more competent in pursuing its policies in Iraq - which can still turn out decently - the hole in the heart of the world might not have gotten so large and jagged.

I have been struck by how many foreign dignitaries have begged me lately for news that Bush will lose. This Bush team has made itself so radioactive it glows in the dark. When the world liked Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, America had more power in the world. When much of the world detests George Bush, America has less power. People do not want to be seen standing next to us. It doesn't mean we should run our foreign policy as a popularity contest, but it does mean that leading is not just about making decisions - it's also the ability to communicate, follow through and persuade.

If the Bush team wins re-election, unless it undergoes a policy lobotomy and changes course and tone, the breach between America and the rest of the world will only get larger. But all Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney have told us during this campaign is that they have made no mistakes and see no reason to change....

According to Laura Bush, every morning President Bush reads a devotional from "My Utmost for His Highest," a collection of homilies by a Protestant minister named Oswald Chambers, who lived a century ago. This helps guide his leadership of our country.

Changing Course and Tone?

Changing course and tone seems highly unlikely for this administration. They lost the popular vote in the last election and they seemed to take that as some sort of mandate for their neoconservative platform. God help us all if they actually WIN this time.


Faith, Hope and Clarity

By ROBERT WRIGHT

Once you're on the right path, setbacks that might give others pause needn't phase you. As Chambers noted in last Sunday's reading, "Paul said, in essence, 'I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn't matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.' " Indeed, setbacks may have a purpose, Chambers will tell Mr. Bush this Sunday: "God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as his saint to get you in direct contact with himself." Faith "by its very nature must be tested and tried."

Some have marveled at Mr. Bush's refusal to admit any mistakes in Iraq other than "catastrophic success." But what looks like negative feedback to some of us - more than 1,100 dead Americans, more than 10,000 dead Iraqi civilians and the biggest incubator of anti-American terrorists in history - is, through Chambers's eyes, not cause for doubt. Indeed, seemingly negative feedback may be positive feedback, proof that God is there, testing your faith, strengthening your resolve.

This, I think, is Mr. Bush's optimism: In the longest run, divinely guided decisions will be vindicated, and any gathering mountains of evidence to the contrary may themselves be signs of God's continuing involvement. It's all good.

* * * * * * * * * *

One might think mediation would lead him to faith, hope and charity, as well as clarity…but instead, it seems to give him permission to rationalize his failures and not recognize them as mistakes in judgment, but strengthen his resolve. Are you reassured yet?

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