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Finding Security and
Some Common Ground

If someone told you a few years ago that the GOP would be embracing diversity this year, you might think that some really amazing changes had taken place. Or you might think it’s a confirmation of the powerful changes coming with 2012. May be.

Aren’t Republicans supposed to be the predictable ones, not the diverse ones? Conservatives are resistant to change. Their positions are based on time-tested, inviolable principles, right?

In contrast, the GOP portray the Dems as having ethics that change with the situation, rudderless, uncertain, and too willing to listen and consider other viewpoints.

It’s healthy, though, to think outside our boxes every once in a while too. Coming out of the closet and saying what’s really going on must be refreshing for those who haven’t for a while.

Airing out differences has led to some interesting conversations and analysis. That’s good. It’s surprising how much the candidates sometimes differ.

This democracy thing—this concept of one man, one voice—may be worth trying out. Hearing the voice of only two, our two parties, however, seems to eliminate the more creative solutions.

For some, primaries are a troubling, mentally unsettling time, but others of us enjoy the diversity. We’ll get back to the one voice, one-party certainty soon enough.

Meanwhile it’s almost as if we get to throw it all out and relook at things. Some things. Rep. Ron Paul’s stance on legalizing all drugs, for instance, will not become a serious conversation.

I enjoyed what Jon Stewart said about him on The Daily Show. Paul’s positions on legalizing marijuana and other drugs, being against the wars, and closing military bases around the world, led Stewart to say Paul is the perfect candidate for his party, but the Republicans just aren’t his party!

Still, we have heard some interesting conversations and contrasting views. It’s interesting that Mitt Romney pays a 13.9% tax rate. We’ll hear more about this if he becomes the chosen one. We’ll get to look at what kind of capitalism we want too, and if it should be controlled at all. And do we want the pursuit of wealth to define us/US?

Experts say the President is most concerned about Romney being the GOP nominee. I’m not really sure why. Many Republicans can’t get passionate about him. He may still work out, though, if the GOP’s common ground is “anyone but Obama!” But isn’t greed a very big issue now? If you have to go back and look at your past business deals and then calculate the job gains and losses in each to figure out if you’re a job creator or not, maybe you’re really not. Defeating Obama is a passion for many GOP leaders, though. No matter who they choose, the super PACs will make sure we hear the worst about Obama.

For his part, rumor has it that President Obama has found his Candidate Obama toolbox and is rediscovering some passion himself. After several years on the shelf, will those who supported him the last cycle pick up that passion again? Obama may be misjudging how upset people are about privilege and greed and question his playing it safe. Can you play it safe and be passionate too? People need that passion and inspiration don’t they?

I said we’re hearing more about and reviewing the issues. More correctly, we hear a lot of sound bites on issues, but the debates have also generated research and conversations by those who do look closer. The challenge is some of us don’t go beyond the sound bites. Some thinking/participation is required.

No matter what the issue, however, doesn’t it seem like taking sides too often means having to buy something we don’t want? Or include something we have to ignore?

With the Keystone pipeline, for instance, for some that’s all about jobs—just do it, ignore the environment. For others, the environment is more important and the jobs aren’t worth the price.

Because the pipeline will be under pressure to move heavy oil, any spill has the potential to do greater damage. Plus the more we know about fracking, and potential earthquakes, the worse that looks. The way we often hear it, however, it’s a simple choice—the environment or jobs. It’s complex.

Another issue is supporting unions and pushing businesses to share their profits. People can’t be slaves, but does supporting unions mean supporting retirement at 50, and paying someone who has retired for 30 some years at 2/3 pay after they work for 30 years? Is that sustainable? Is it true, that bad, or worse? The answers aren’t found in soundbites.

Gathering information, balancing things or choosing sides is complex and difficult. Maybe that’s why we choose one party for a while and watch them reward their side until it’s obviously out of balance—we hear the resulting injustices—and then we elect the other side for a while.

It takes time for the win–win ideas such as those of John Nash, the Nobel Laureate in Economics who inspired the movie Beautiful Mind, to be accepted. Einstein’s starting to catch on though.

Most of us are not trained to think in terms of win–win. Business schools don’t teach it. But it is what works, isn’t it? Ultimately, it’s either win–win or control and dominate everyone else everywhere else. One’s tough, the other impossible.

Win–win might be a tough road now, too complicated and too radical for today’s politics and politicians. But who knows? Maybe without greed as our driving force it will just come naturally. What would going in that direction look like?

What we know is that neither side is looking at where to cooperate. They don’t have great answers and we won’t discover how to shift without looking at that and experimenting.

This is challenging because we want consistency and harmony in our life. Then again, staying where we are is not a guarantee of that either.

Changing and moving toward win–win actions and thinking in terms of our community and fellow citizens will require knowing who we are—not just looking out for #1.

Knowing who we are means knowing that security does not mean we know what comes next or that we have great plans for tomorrow. Life, the world and Nature are simply too unpredictable. It takes knowing that having security means we know we can cope with tomorrow. Know we are able.

So we remember who we are and that we are capable; and we empower others to know that’s the true source of our security. It doesn’t come from out there. It can’t be given to us.

We can join with others and participate with that idea—not the idea that we can’t. That may not mean in political parties. In bad times especially, change may require people who know they are capable, more than leaders with plans and promises.

Maybe real changes requires joining in communities with others. Listening to and understanding others. Working things out with others. Discovering how we can all win, and taking action together.

The truth is that we know people have the same basic needs. We’re not that different on that level. We banded together in the first place to protect ourselves from raiders and protect the weak among us from the elements that the majority of us could cope with.

Maybe shifting is as simple as choosing a Sermon-on-the-Mount-like attitude, or Beatitude, vs. a strict Old Testament, eye-for-an-eye fundamentalist-type attitude.

The times, the energy, the world are shifting quickly these days. Who are we now? Do the politics we see now represent us/US, or are we on the way to something different? Does what we see represent the principles of joining for the common good that we espouse in the Declaration of Independence or the preamble to the Constitution? How and where can we cooperate with that? That’s our common ground.

We voted on that one a long time ago: we’re all in this together.