9.15.2006

Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham and other entertaining psychopaths

I've gotten into the usually-benign habit of listening to talk radio when I'm driving. The one I typically patronize is programmed with Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham and the like. While I rarely agree with their politics, the times when lightning does strike and their viewpoint makes the slightest bit of sense to me, it's typically delivered with such a one-eyed, dogmatic fervor that the grain of truth in the statement is drowned in an Amazonic river of bad attitude. Today found me listening as I commonly do, but I simply could not stomach more than the opening minutes of the show as my ears were greeted with a joyful tirade about how great the Pope is with his "honest and forthright" remarks.
Okay, politics aside.
We cannot afford to lose our compassion. Are we too paranoid, as a culture, of offending the slightest sensitivities of even the most overly-sensitive person? I think so. Is the answer to that lashing back in the faces of the offended screaming at them to get over it, rejoicing anytime they hurt, celebrating their downfall and ultimately really hoping that they all die (whether by our hand or not) and leave us be? NO! We cannot beat what we're up against by fighting their fight. You can't fight a bully by bullying him/her, because you lose yourself in that process. You become just a bigger bully. Now everyone's afraid of you instead of him. I don't claim to have the answer to our foreign policy dilemma. And, honestly, I do believe we should deal with terrorists forcefully and authoritatively, but not with the wrong attitude. We cannot allow ourselves to be sucked into a world where we are excited to hear of human suffering or death - even that of our enemies. We must learn to be forceful and strong, with an attitude that has compassion for their suffering and for their families. Much like a good parent, we must learn to act be strong and resolute and compassionate. These traits cannot be mutually exclusive. The result of that is for us to become sadistic bullies, waiting for someone who can bully better to come along and take us out.
If we, as a society, can learn to be compassionate and resolute, merciful and forceful, we can build a country (and resulting reputation) that will not provoke attack any more than a quiet student provokes a reprimand and will be respected for our boundaries and strength as much as our compassion and mercy.
So, right-wing radio personalities, please beware of your attitude. You feel strong and powerful and righteous because you are urging Americans to be the biggest bully on the block, which can only lead to a temporary reign ended by a brutal, unexpected stomping.

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