Friday, August 20, 2010
H is for Home
Coming home was harder on my stomach. Two weeks as a pilgrim in the Middle East was a good detoxifying process for my digestive system and mental habits around food and beverage. It was two weeks filled with maximum water consumption, mostly fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of chicken, beef, and lamb, zero alcohol, and very few sweets. That diet combined with a large amount of HOT weather hiking, a lot of walking, and a healthy sleep schedule truly did this body good.
So part of my re-entry has been to intentionally cling to some of those disciplines rather than immediately sliding into my less healthy habits of my home. It's been a struggle, but I'm adjusting.
I've been doing a lot of thinking and praying about how my heart and brain have been transformed by my pilgrimage. I learned so much about history, culture, religion, politics, and spirituality. It truly is difficult to wrap my brain about it all, and to discern what I'm called to do with the knowledge and passion within me.
Knowing that my readers are a mixed audience of non-spiritual folks and religious practitioners, I think I will continue to keep most of my reflections to myself. I am happy to share with each of you on a more personal level if invited. I have decided that I will get on my political soap box. So either brace yourself for a lecture on global citizenship, or cease reading at this point so I don't make you feel angry or guilty. If you choose to read on anyway, please remember that this is my passion and my hope. But also remember that I carry guilt about what follows, too. My response is to do better and invite others to consider the same.
It has struck me that in general the USA's electorate is apathetic and uninformed. Often we are misinformed if we actually believe all the propaganda spewed in political and campaign advertising. I have learned that our media, the "free" press, that we Americans cling to so fiercely, is still a far more biased press than that which we might suspect or even admit. I didn't accept this statement when it was spoken to me at first. Then I began the research for myself.
If you read an Associated Press story filed by the same writer in a paper published in Israel, compared with the same story in the BBC, and then in the US, you will read three different slants. Editors mess with the story to offer the point of view they want to promote with their publication. If you don't read papers, then take time to compare CNN as aired on the BBC compared with the US version. We citizens of the Global Superpower are being fed, not all the facts, but scrubbed news. I don't know about you, but that simply pisses me off.
Achille Lauro incident in the Mediterranean Sea. The US Department of State sent travel advisories all over the world encouraging US citizens to guard our passports with great caution, and to pass ourselves off as Canadian so as not to attract the unwanted attention of Palestinian terrorists. It was fascinating to hear what citizens of other nations thought of Americans. Some admired our power, our military, and our freedom. Others despised our arrogance, our pushiness, and our disregard for our affect on the rest of the world.
It has been said that when the USA sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold.
Having traveled to Palestine /Israel 25 years after my first international travel experience I was struck by the similarities. I have always maintained that humans don't evolve very quickly. But you would think that in this global age of instant news we would at least be better at getting along with, rather than bossing around others. The discontent in the Middle East is fueled by millions of US dollars pumped into that region annually to prop up an Israeli military out of loyalty to an historical ally, and as a result of a an extremely powerful and lucrative congressional lobby in the good old USA.
It isn't your average Israeli or Jew that's the problem. It isn't your average Arab or Palestinian that's the problem. It isn't the average US citizen that's the problem, regardless of who the President is or isn't. It's that we all collectively tolerate fundamental extremism within our respective borders, be it religious or military or both, and we forget that most human beings simply desire peace, food, dignity, shelter, respect, clothing, and safety.
My commitment in this transformation I am experiencing is to be an informed, issue-oriented voter who will remember that my vote isn't just about me and what I want as a Minnesotan living in the USA. I will do my best to remember my new friends in the Middle East, especially the Arab/Palestinian/Christian/Episcopal ones, and will vote as a Global Citizen. My relative comfort, safety, and affluence demand that I be an informed and responsible voter, not a narcissistic and uninformed one.
Would you consider joining me?
P.S. Obama is NOT a Muslim.
P.P.S. Not that it really matters anyway!
(Photos from top to bottom: Sunrise over the Dead Sea, Bedouin Camel in Judean Desert, Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Faithful Muslims at the Mosque)