Here we go!
1) The Great Divide
For having a president who was said to be a "great unifier," America sure is divided in just about every way these days... political parties, class, gender, religion, and race. Sadly, I can think of a current hot-button news item for every single one of those. There's the party line where the parties have become so strongly divided that neither is willing to cooperate on anything. The President puts forth extremely liberal legislation and complains that the "do-nothing" Congress is playing party politics. Republicans put forth an extremely conservative budget proposal and the President claims it's social Darwinism, not to mention other legislation he has announced in advance that he would refuse to sign.
There's the class line where we're told day in and day out ad nauseum about the evil rich in America not paying their "fair share" in taxes. It's conveniently never mentioned that this tiny percentage of the population pays an incredibly disproportionate amount of the nation's tax revenue while about 50% of Americans pay no taxes at all. But it's easy to convince those who make less money and struggle to get by that some rich person is to blame, and that advances certain political agendas.
We also have the "war on women"/"war on religious freedom" ever since the federal government proposed a mandate that religious institutions would have to fund abortions, which some (specifically the Catholic Church) are morally against, by paying for insurance coverage of birth control methods for employees and students. Those in favor claim that opposing the mandate is a "war on women," while those against the mandate see it as a violation of religious freedom. Most people come down on one side or the other of that argument.
Then there is the racial controversy that is growing out of the Trayvon Martin murder case (more on that in a minute). Murders happen in large numbers across the country every single day. Even crimes across racial or ethnic groups happen daily. The difference here is that it is being investigated as a potential racial matter because the accused gunman was Hispanic (or "white-Hispanic" if you read the New York Times) and the victim was African American.
It's pretty disappointing that politicians seem to take advantage of issues like these and blow them up to advance their political agendas. I feel like most Americans (ok, at least the ones I know) are reasonable enough that they'd be willing to compromise on a middle-of-the-road solution to most issues in the name of resolution and moving on. Sadly though, middle-of-the-road doesn't seem to win elections, and thus here we are in an election year... divided.
2) Trayvon Martin Case
There are so many tragedies in this case it's hard to decide where to begin. The obvious greater tragedy is that a child lost his life. It never should have happened. George Zimmerman never should have followed him or confronted him, none of it ever should have happened. If Zimmerman was suspicious of the kid he should have called a non-emergency police number and let them handle it from there. Ugh. Beyond that, the fact that the media has made a circus out of it is also tragic. Between the New York Times initially reporting that George Zimmerman was white- no wait, "white-Hispanic" and NBC editing the 911 recording to make him sound like a total racist, it's hard to say if the public will ever know what really happened. Rather than being innocent until proven guilty, George Zimmerman has already been tried and convicted by the media. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally confused as to how you can shoot and kill someone, admit to it, and not be arrested. I've heard that he was questioned for 5 hours when the incident happened, but it still seems to me that this is a highly suspicious situation. While I agree with many that George Zimmerman should probably be in custody for killing an unarmed teenager who didn't do anything to provoke the incident, I also think that the entire racial aspect is being blown completely out of proportion. Where are all of these protestors, Al Sharpton, President Obama every single day when people are killed senselessly? Why aren't they outraged when a black person kills another black person? Why not protest when a black person kills a white person? I'm fairly certain that the statistics show the number of those crimes far exceeds the number of black people killed by white (or "white-Hispanic") people. Isn't the bottom line that no one should be killing anyone else? Shouldn't we be outraged at any killing? I find it so frustrating that the outrage and outcry and publicity is so selective. This case is being highlighted not because this poor child has lost his life and his parents and family are suffering, but because it advances a political cause. It fans certain flames and stirs emotions among people who will favor one candidate over another. If I were Trayvon's parents, I'd be outraged that my child's murder was being used as a political tool.
3) Haves vs. Have Nots
Every time I post something political on Facebook the discussion boils down to the question- "Why do have nots defend the haves?" I suppose I am considered a "have not" since I'm not filthy rich, although I have everything I need to survive and well beyond. I'm still here, aren't I? So why do I think that the "haves" or the filthy rich should be able to have the money they've earned? My answer is simple - it just makes sense to me. If they're smarter than I am, work harder than I do, have a job that is more highly-skilled or in-demand than mine, then of course they deserve to be paid more. Maybe they're better at managing or investing their money. Does that mean they should be punished by being forced to hand over their money? Why?
I love the school analogy because it's about as close as you can get to the working world. So what if we told students that their grades would be "taxed?" Those with the highest grades would have to give up the most points in order to help out those with the lowest grades, you know, to be "fair." Those with the lowest grades wouldn't have to contribute any points, and those in the middle would make a modest contribution. Just like in the real world, this arrangement punishes success. Would those high-achievers who are probably in higher level courses and doing work that is more challenging than the rest still work as hard to earn all of those points? How about the students at the bottom? If they're earning a low D on their own, but with the points they're given end up with a low C, is there any sense in working harder to improve their own grade? Of course not, then they would just have to start giving away points like everyone else. Now, change that up so that everyone shaves off 3 points from each assignment to go into the pot. You'd probably find the high achievers working extra hard to offset the 3 points, middle achievers likely doing the same, and those at the bottom either working hard to improve their grades or at the very least doing the best they can with the help they're getting. Which sounds more productive?
My question to those who ask why I defend the "haves" is this:
You are a free person living in a free country. Why do you vote to elect those that seek to reduce or restrict your freedom? Why would you choose less freedom?
And with that, it's super late and my brain is on over-drive from writing this. I'd love to hear feedback on this stuff, especially if you have answers to those last questions!