America: The Secret Garden
My backyard contains an arbor and pergola decorated with climbing, flowering vines; a rose garden and extensive other flower beds; a pumpkin patch; statues, a fountain and decorative pond with waterfall. The silence in my garden is broken by my lawn mower and my swears when I have to weed or when I break my skin when trimming back brambles, but when the work is done, the air becomes thick with gratitude and tranquility. It took a lot of work to get it to this point. There will always be more projects and will always be routine maintenance. But I do not curse it for the work it takes, nor allow resentment to fill my heart because the people my wife and I bought the property from allowed the house and backyard to fall into such a state of disrepair; it is not some past injustice I must force myself to rectify, and when our gardens evolve by my own hand or by Mother Nature’s, I do not temper my pace forward or stand athwart my hibiscuses and yell “Stop!” I have abundance and peace. A rabbit or deer chewing on some of my flowers and leaves is a good problem to have.
And I do not gaze longingly at my neighbor’s yard. Sometimes the grass is not greener on the other side. Sometimes it’s brown, dead, charred, and littered with the wreckage of vehicles, buildings and human lives.
We Americans should be thankful that the most hotly debated topic right now is where trans people should be allowed to go to the bathroom. It is a better topic to be forced to take a side on, than if Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyya was right, when in the 14th century he attacked Shiites as “rafidha,” those who “refuse God.” Rafidha is the basis of the Sunni Islamic State’s ‘convert or die’. I’d much prefer engaging in the Great Trans People Potty Debate of 2016 than in the legitimacy of the Sophie’s Choice being foisted upon millions of Middle Eastern Muslims.
In the middle of March of this year, media chin-strokers bandied about the idea that Donald Trump could be accused of inciting a riot, for implying some of his supporters could get violent if he is not nominated. And there have been a few bloody noses and skinned knees outside Trump rallies. But there hasn’t been a car bombing in an Indianapolis marketplace, like there was in Baghdad on Wednesday, May 11, 2016, which killed at least 64.
In attempting to increase voter turnout among Hispanic voters for the 2010 midterm elections, President Obama said, “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.” In the mid 1980s, Pakistan’s military dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq encouraged the formation of Sunni sectarian groups that would enforce Sunni hegemony over Shiite beliefs within Pakistani civil society. Today, those groups routinely engage in violence against Shiite Muslims, and in 2014 opened fire on a bus in Karachi, killing 40 Ismaili Shiites.
There is a common attitude among libertarians that Democrats and Republicans are both equally bad, that they are opposite sides of the same coin. Both parties have so dominated American politics and protect their hegemony of it, that we outsiders often see very little difference between them. For all of their supposed differences in ideologies, at least as is represented by the wings of each party, they sure do come together and levy some serious bipartisanship down upon us. The War on Drugs, post-9/11 invasions of other countries and security measures in this one, bailouts, entitlement expansions, and out of control spending hikes are the result of the major parties working together.
One of the ways in which these lousy legislative packages get passed is due to popular support among voters, swayed by the rhetoric of media talking heads and politicians our fellow citizens pay mindless deference to.
However, I’d rather have the methods and means of the Democrats and the Republicans, namely, histrionic rhetoric, than those of the Sunnis and Shiites. Since the Iran Revolution of 1979, the division of Islam between Sunni and Shiite has become less over religious doctrine, and more about political power, so it is apt to compare the strife caused competing sects of Islam to that of the two major political parties of America.
It is all too easy for liberals, conservatives and libertarians to complain about the country in which we live, and lose sight of what America still has to offer, despite any of its past injustices and present absurdities.
I breathe the air in my garden, and enjoy my book and a beer, and on the right kind of day, when a bird flies through shafts of sunlight, I might even engage in some introspection and reflect on my life a tiny bit. I’m thankful for what my wife and I have, by our own hands, products of life, liberty and property. The hardships we have to endure pale in comparison with so many others’.
If you wring your hands and clutch at your pearls over the “coarseness” of politics in America, be happy you don’t live in Baghdad or some other shit place where adherents to competing shit ideologies kill themselves and others in furtherance of their shit agenda. Appreciate and enjoy your life in America. Its remarkable qualities far outweigh its detractions. Content yourself with the fact that you live here.
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