Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Reason & Emotion in Politics



Reason.

We're are not "crazy" because we want peace. We want democracy, liberty, and a rule of law. We are the voice of reason. Dennis Kucinich is leading the way with a very reasonable idea: a department of peace. Impeaching Cheney-Bush is reasonable because they have violated their oaths of office and are enemies of the constitution. These ideas are the most reasonable going, but they are not yet mainstream. We make them mainstream by continuing to affirm them.

Emotion.

I'm a poet. I've made a career out of defending emotion- the ethical perspective to which it can guide us, inspire us, and move us. A cold, clinical view of the world is my idea of hell; however, emotions can undermine our most vaunted goals and undo our efforts.

I have heard numerous complaints by people on my side who say, "Where is everybody? Aren't the ANGRY enough? Aren't they SCARED enough to DO something?" Anger is very motivating when you want a whole lot of people to do one quick simple action-write a letter, get out and protest, vote even--but anger is unsustainable. Anger burns out your adrenal glands. Anger makes you stupid and has a short duration. Fear and panic are similar. They are the two sides of the fight or flight response.

We have a movement to build and it is going to take time. It won't happen by harnessing anger or fear but by mobilizing ideas. It will mean making reasonable statements and repeating them. Dennis Kucinich is a model of this strategy. He is POSITIVE. He is IDEALISTIC. He is FIRM (not angry). He is COMPASSIONATE (not scared). Cynicism is anger at the burn-out stage. When you have gotten angry over and over again and have not yet achieved your goals, your self-protection is to give up, to become cynical. Anger leads to cynicism and fear leads to despair. We need ideas. We need articulation of problems. We need reason and we need to love each other not caricature our fellows and our allies.


1 comment:

Bri said...

Your 'emotion-definition' is my quote of the day...