Sunday, January 24, 2010

Biking against the wind: Hope for this country

It's Sunday morning, traditionally a time I would plop down on the couch with a cup of coffee, put on some high-brow concert music (in lieu of church) and read the papers. At least three of 'em.

The news of late--and by "of late" I mean in the past five or six years has been pretty bad. Depressing. Abysmal. Enough to make one desire to run far, far away. Leave the country. My fight or flight reaction is really kicking in and my gut feeling is leave the country to the bohunks who seem to be gathering steam in this country (remember the vitriol from Hillary Clinton's campaign? or the rabid dogs one hears on talk radio and in the conservative press?) Just turn your back on the whole thing.

Can you feel the anger and bile rising in my voice?

Because our country seems to be lacking in some real intelligent discourse. I'm not knocking the current conservative movement. I think it's great that finally, the middle class is rising up and finally taking a real, active part in the political process. What I have a problem with is how they're being led along like sheep. And their anger, their fury seems to come from their desire to preserve the old way, as much as anything. When they rail about the tax and spend Democrats, it seems to me, it comes more from their desire to keep their tax dollars for themselves so they can continue to have their big homes and big cars and big TVs and their swimming pools. It's not from a real altruistic feeling of wanting to make the world a better place. The world is changing, the world has changed, and it seems that the conservative movement in this country is fueled by fear and the desire to go back in time, not forward.

And there are a lot of people in this world right now who cause me to just grind my teeth, because I don't see them as really thinking for themselves. When they talk their politics they just repeat verbatim what they hear Jay Severin mouth on his radio show. I know this because I've listened to him--not so much anymore because I rarely spend time driving anymore, but when I did I would listen to his show. I like to hear all points of view. And, as I said, I would hear people simply parroting exactly what he would say. And people would just repeat his words and somehow they think those words are theirs and they think they're smart, when they're simply walking, talking tape recorders on playback.


There's an actor/filmmaker friend of mine who I met this past fall while performing in a play, and we'd talk. His name is Mark Vashro and he's young and smart and curious-exactly what all people should be. These qualities make it almost impossible for a human being to be angry. And he's been questioning his place in the world and everything that's been going on. So he's decided to ride a bike across the United States. To find out for himself what is going on. Not be spoonfed the answers but question and learn for himself. Yeah, it's a real hippie thing to do. But to me, it's a real American thing to do. Being independent and moving and discovering and being an individual and thinking for yourself. Those are ideals, but when I think of the United States, that's how I think of it. Not angry. Not vindictive. But smart and curious and bold.

People like Mark restore my faith and hope for this country. Because this country was founded for the rights of the individual. And individuals, right now, are few and far between.

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