If you’re a member of the Green, Democratic, Libertarian or Peace and Freedom parties, it’s time to sign up for a cultural-immersion program. After all, if the language of the Bible Belt and its red-state cousins remains foreign to you, then the concept of a socially just future will, too. Change begins at home—that is, inside of you. So, before you attempt to speak a new language, here’s some help unpacking your baggage from the last trip.
Stop advocating “same sex” marriage—People claim that President George W. Bush is inarticulate. Aren’t we all inarticulate, as well as unfair, if we promote the notion that same-gender partnerships are only about sex? That’s the psychological result of saying “same-sex marriage” instead of the more accurate “same-gender marriage.” The term “same-gender marriage” is neutral and appropriate if you believe that same-gender partnerships are based in love.
If you think this switch is meaningless, consider the words “jungle” and “rain forest.” Environmentalists could not interest the world in saving jungles, but money poured into “save the rain forest” campaigns. So, correct yourself and insist that the media become articulate, too.
End the great sex sellout—Collectively, we have failed to integrate a healthy sense of sexuality into American culture. The image of sexuality from media, movies and advertising is rarely sensual, life-affirming or commitment-based. It is rarely an expression of genuine love. Children grow up surrounded by messages that tell them how to score quick hits of attention by dressing provocatively and by having sex. They are not supported in respecting their sexuality or learning how to create real intimacy. The negative impact on their life and happiness is enormous. If we opened our minds to understand the true impact of the American distortion of sexuality, we would insist on advocating sane values and ethics in our culture.
Understand world economics— OK, I’m suffering through a macroeconomics course right now, so you could dismiss this suggestion by saying, “Misery loves company.” But consider this: You can’t change the world if you don’t fully comprehend how money makes the world go ’round. For example, some Americans who raised money to buy the freedom of slaves in the Sudan created a thriving market for slavery and helped to fund a brutal civil war.
Join the revival—Most of the people I’ve met who call themselves “spiritual, not religious” do so because they remain emotionally burdened by rabid anger or a still-stinging hurt from a childhood experience of religion. Many of these same people pursue psychotherapy or process feelings with a trusted friend when a crisis looms in a personal or romantic relationship.
However, when the emotional charge involves a religious institution, the “spiritual, not religious” types feel righteous about their resentment. Some use it to validate their dismissal of religion. Others practice a religion but call it spirituality, just to avoid the appearance (in their minds) of being connected to a religion. If we don’t heal our childhood issues with religion, we won’t mature spiritually. We’ll remain victims of our past and unable to understand the passion of those who are deeply connected to religion.
Examine your wallet— Republicans accuse Democrats of being the “tax and spend” party, but Republicans advocate an equally problematic approach: borrow and spend. It’s easy to criticize the government for borrowing to fund the war in Iraq, while blinding ourselves to the extravagant borrowing in our own household budgets. Cut up your credit cards, put one check in your wallet for emergencies and switch to budgeted cash for all daily transactions. If you spend beyond your means monthly or daily, don’t criticize the government for doing the same.