Thursday, July 28, 2011

100 politicians walk into a bar...

"But what is more divine, I will not say in man only, but in all heaven and earth, than reason? And reason, when it is full grown and perfected, is rightly called wisdom."

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."
(Gospel according to Matthew)

As I look at the last couple of weeks and I see our political leaders dealing with the current financial situation, including how to resolve the issue of the "debt ceiling", one reaction from a friend of mine was this: "this is a joke!" I can't blame him for feeling this way.

To me it is truly shocking how in politics the lives of human beings take a back seat to "being right" and defending the "truth". It is equally shocking how being inflexible is praised as being strong, but compromise or the idea of compromise is attacked (by politicians and political groups) as a sign of weakness, of not "sticking to your principles" or not "standing your ground".

Yes, sometimes to "stand our ground" is very important. But there is a difference between that and being inflexible. And while it is true that sometimes compromise can lead to negative consequences, it is also true that compromise can be a sign of strength, lead to great things and even more: sometimes it is the only thing to do. Sometimes compromise can also be part of the "truth" and of "being right". In moments like these in order to reach a compromise we need: reason, wisdom, and compassion.

It is my hope, that while in public our political leaders engage in threats, personal attacks and ultimatums, in private there will be a few voices of reason, wisdom and compassion to lead the way and come to a solution. When the numbers, financial analyses, studies, and predictions are done (along with the political threats, personal attacks and ultimatums) it still goes back to what this is all about: the choices made will affect the lives of human beings.

In the meantime, humor can be a way to remind ourselves that sometimes we have to step back, think, smile, and try again. And you know what, sometimes our political leaders can be the source of that humor. Two people in particular (former president Bill Clinton and former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld) gave us many "wonderful" moments of humor in our political history. It does not have to follow the model of '100 politicians walk into a bar' (of course feel free to share a few of those). Politicians like them are masters of language and the how to use language to their advantage, specially when it comes to answering questions. And whey they do we are left thinking "I cannot believe he said that!" or just a plain "What???" Then, I have two of many possible choices: throwing my remote control against the television, or to laugh...and I think is better to laugh instead of buying a new television.

Here for now is one moment from years ago by Senator Joe McCarthy (when he was claiming that one government official was a Communist) and as you read it may I also ask all of you philosophy and logic enthusiasts (including Monty Python fans), what do you think of this:

"I do not have much information on this except the general statement of the agency that there is nothing in the files to disprove his Communist connections."

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