Monday, November 03, 2008

Fear and Hope

For me, one of the best things about this election is that it's given me tremendous insight into my own internal processes regarding my life. In many ways, this election has really mirrored much of what has been going on in my head regarding my life. From my vantage point, this is the fundamental issue of this election: Change vs. Fear.

Whether it's the country as a whole or certain aspects of my life, there's the general feeling that we're on the wrong track and something needs to change. Things could be, perhaps SHOULD be better. But as we all know, that doesn't happen unless we do something differently. And so, the opportunity for change presents itself.

Yet, we're confronted with opposition to the change we seek -- the mainstay of McCain's campaign has been the call of fear. At it's core the message is: Change is scary. It will be worse than it is now. The McCain campaign has used a variety of narratives to accomplish this -- because Obama looks different, he's secretly a radical/Muslim (ie terrorist)/America-hater. He's a Socialist! He's going to raise your taxes and the economy will collapse! Terrorists will attack the moment he's elected! He wants government to control every aspect of your life!

The easy answer is to point at these people as nutcases and just push forward. For the record, on a political level, DO I think these people are nutcases (this means YOU, Kevin & Patrick... just kidding!)? I certainly think most/all of the the conservative memes about Obama are neither credible nor compelling. At the same time, to dismiss these things out of hand misses the point.

If you believe that these things are true, that somehow Obama is some sort of Islamic Manchurian Candidate, then suddenly the case against change is quite a rational thing. If you believe that no despite how bad things are, the only possible alternative is catastrophic, then keeping things as they are is the logical choice. At that point -- you pull the lever to "reform" the current path and just do a better job, despite the evidence that what you've been doing before just isn't working.

I'll say this again -- I don't believe any of that on a political level, but on a personal level it really becomes enlightening because it highlights what I haven't been wanting to see about myself. In one of my previous entries that detailed one of my requests of the Universe, Alex responded, "Be careful what you ask for..." While I know his comments were in jest, the truth of it is, for every desire and hope for the future of my life, I fear each of them as much if not more than I desire them.

And like those conservatives out there who fear that somehow terrorists will strike the US again if Obama is elected, I have the events in my past that make the fear seem quite reasonable. Maybe these things will take me in a direction I don't want to go, maybe I won't be able to handle them, maybe I'll get my heart broken again. Maybe I'll repeat the mistakes of my past. Legitimate concerns, all of them.

I can't predict the future, I don't know exactly what is to come. I don't know the answers to questions that haven't been asked. In fact, sometimes I have trouble with answering the questions that HAVE been asked. So, it's no longer a mystery why I've been resisting the changes I've wanted for so long.

The one thing I DO know is that while I can't change the past, I am not the same person I was back then. I may not know what is to come, but I do know that I am much more now than I have ever been. I can feel the differences between who and where I was and who and where I am now. Even if things look the same on the outside, I know they're not.

Perhaps that seems like a flimsy reason to hope that things can be better. At the same time, I know what's changed, I know the work I've done. I also know that I'll never reach a point where everything is perfect, or where I won't make mistakes. I'm learning to be okay with that. I don't expect everything to change overnight, but I know the issues I need to confront. I'm not afraid to look at the fears that I've left hidden. Maybe that's not everything I need to get me where I want to go, but at least it's enough to let me take a step forward.

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