copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
Today, change has come. Contrary to the reality that has filled centuries of history, a Presidential candidate has chosen to Fight the Smears. Barack Obama, a man whose first name is defined as my own, "blessed," has opened a door. He has unlocked a window. Thankfully, the propitious aspirant has risen above supposed ceilings. Presidential hopeful Obama has endorsed a principle that I discovered as a child. Secrets are the source of sorrow.
Barack Obama's campaign revealed a Web site this morning entitled "Fight the Smears" -- aimed at, . . . beating back misinformation, half truths or downright lies being spread about the Democratic nominee via television, the Web, radio and, most pervasively, e-mail.
"The Obama campaign isn't going to let dishonest smears spread across the Internet unanswered," explained campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor.
Intentional slander causes great pain. Individuals who malign advance untold misery. Only the truth can set any of us free. However, few wish to speak of what they know. Most repeat the proverb, "Ignorance is bliss." Yet, in life, we may realize, when we are quiet, gospel is often fleeting.
Americans witness an amplified effect of silence each election year. What was intentionally withheld and accidentally revealed, or what was not explained well in advance to the electorate reverberates as it rolls through the press. Barack Obama understood this before he began his Presidential bid, or possibly, he did what was his habit.. In his biographical accounts, Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope, the Senator honestly revealed some of what might have been considered character flaws. Perchance, he only exposed the ways one works through a rite of passage.
My Mom, a wondrous woman who believes, we must "never suffer" would have been impressed by a man who freely disclosures as Barack Obama has. I feel certain Senator Obama's mother was pleased with the person she raised to be real. Perhaps, Barack Obama's parent helped him to muse as my Mom did for me when she said, "In some families there are skeletons in the closet. In our home, there are no spaces in which to store the bones." In my life, people speak of what is in a moment. Myths do not become accepted as legends. I have come to recognize, forever is fluid when people are free to be.
In homes such as mine, no one need tiptoe around the torrid tales. Topics are not taboo. I experience when people are authentic in word and deed, individuals feel safe, secure, and serene. They trust that discussions are endless. Disagreements do not end a relationship; they begin an evolution. I know this to my core. I have lived it for a lifetime. Friends, who were less familiar with what always was in my family, through me, have come to appreciate secrets need not be.
I had and will forever have faith that no one is supremely correct. Nor are any of us mistaken. The only blunder, I believe, is a purposeful intent to cause pain. I do not think conversations injure, or at least dialogues need not do harm. However, for some this is the objective. In an election season, the people see what is contrary to the standard in my family. It seems the plan is to persistently penetrate any semblance of sympathy for a defined opponent. Conversations amongst candidates are not compassionate. Even constituents bicker brutally. Countrywide everyone speaks of a desire for peace, while they consciously war.
For me, disagreements are fine. They need not be feuds. In my mind, heart, body, and soul, chatter does not equate to conclusions. Talk is the catalyst for what is, in my life, eternal, slow change.
Perchance, if we as a nation truly wish to create a fertile future the manner in which we speak, and our expectation for what needs to be in an exchange or an election must be altered. However, if that is to occur we must acknowledge, transformation comes from within individuals.
With access to information, ah, what a mind can do. Malleable psyche morphs in ways we cannot see and in moments that may not make sense to any of us. Frequently, I have observed hearts melt when we share "stories" serenely.
Each of us may have an effect on another; however, we cannot know what that might be. Thus, we speak and hope we are heard. We listen; if we are open, we learn what we never imagined. Perhaps, the "blessed" Barack Obama, was instructed at his Mom's knee just as the "blessed one" Betsy was. What might be awkward, if not addressed, will forge a feeling of deep distress.
I was taught to endorse the adage, "Silence is Not golden." Indeed, I discovered, without words, people can only assume. Assumptions are often erroneous. At times, so too are our thoughts. Yet, we may wish to believe what is real for us is obvious., even if odious, and inaccurate.
Hence, I, as a human, one in a species that is bit too emotional for my taste, when given divergent information, initially, may become defensive. Nonetheless, I know I will forever reflect on every word another offers. I suspect others do as well. My belief is that this theory has spurred the Fight the Smears campaign.
Over time, and with or without further discussions, I may evolve to a place not entered before. I love the enlightenment that grows with empathy. Thus, I participate endlessly. I seek wisdom wherever it may be. I am convinced, knowledge is everywhere. Erudition will empower me. Ellen, my dear sweet compeer encourages me to have courage in my convictions.
Ellen and I are good friends and have been for well over a decade. We are extremely open with each other. Authentic honesty that does no harm is a habit of mine, and one she adopted unexpectedly in time. Given that all is discussed candidly, and with great care for the other, each of trusts we will not be declined an opportunity to speak. Smears will not be forthcoming. What is said in person will not be awkwardly courteous. Reciprocal reverence is sincere.
Nonetheless, or perhaps, because we are genuine with each other, disputes occur. Politically, we are as far apart as two persons might be. In an election year, needless to say, we can expect other emotive outbursts. A recent one was animated, just as our agreements are. Our earlier interchange illustrates what I believe and why I welcome a focus on the smears.
In my life, as I shared earlier, when people address misinformation, misunderstandings, or mysteries much can be revealed and resolved. Ellen and I, in our relationship, exemplify what is possible when people endorse a policy of "no secrets."
Days ago, each of us was excited as we discussed our sense of political truths. When our voracious vocal analysis ended, some might have thought venom was the cause. It was not. Shuns did not give rise to a sudden silence Essentially, all was postponed, for each of us was late for an appointment.
Ellen had no doubt that we would chat again. She knows very well, I do not leave conversations behind. Nor does she with me. Neither of us would hide from a possible conflict. History helps us to know this would not be our last quarrel. When one is so far from another politically; yet, so close when principles are practiced, certainly there will be quibbles. Nonetheless, these will likely progress as calmly as this one did, or as others have.
One or the other of us will call, write, or come over. Neither of us will avoid the subject that may have been the source of sore feelings. Perchance, in our personal lives, diplomacy is a practical policy. Ellen and I will chat of what occurred. We will speak of why we said and did as was done. All the while we will warmly express how much we value the other, even the opinions we might think odd.
Again, we will reassure each other. There are no facts. Every individual has faith in what they think accurate. Ellen, I, any individual has a unique perspective. Those who think as we do, dependent on the policy, principle, or practice, do not share our history and a particular point of view. Others will reach a conclusion upon reflection, as will we, which could be you or me. What each being evaluates is envisioned through a personal lens. Eyes and emotions are our sieves.
Ellen and I know to our core, my history is not hers. Her experiences are not mine. Our backgrounds and experiences are dissimilar. The effect of every encounter will be internalized differently. Nonetheless, or indeed, each of us is the change we can believe in.
A broad focus on a shared Fight against Smears, may help to create a community that truly cares. A site that teaches us how the world might function if everyone is open, may serve to keep the peace.
It is for this reason I applaud Barack Obama and those who seek specifics from the source. Granted, Barack and Michelle Obama will not have a chance to look into the eyes of every American. They will not be able to touch the hand or the heart of all citizens in the world. Time will not allow for personal introductions and interchanges. Nonetheless, I believe it is important to begin a practice void in most homes and absent on the campaign trail.
I have faith that if we face the rancor that resonates when misinformation becomes the message, we all will be better off.
Humans appreciate, people will prattle incessantly. Words will be whispered down the lane. Labels will linger if left out in the cold, or locked in a closet and hermetically sealed. However, if we, the persons who are the subject of the silliness that passes for truth, share what is real for us, people may listen, or at least in my life they have.
As I shared, for me, love is the only absolute. It is a challenge to love someone we do not genuinely know. I thank Barack Obama for removing the veil that too often in public forum obscures veracity.
I experience, if we wish to be trusted, we must trust that others desire to know us as we are. I am grateful, Barack Obama is willing to share truth with us. To speak to slurs and slights is to fight for the peace that has never bee part of a political campaign.
Open dialogue is the change I believe in. I appreciate the invitation to talk. I think, together, we can Fight the Smears, challenge affronts, and enter into a world of empathy.
References for the fight . . .