We Buy With Our Hearts

My mom is suffering through a trip to Utah. She grew up a mormon, but has always been a political liberal in her heart so, regardless of her feelings about Jesus (or rather, because of them) she has a hard time being around the mormons any more. It’s a tough job, believing yourself to be a rational person and being surrounded by religious zealots.

About ten years ago, when we were all still in college (or pretending to be) an arts professional of some kind came to speak at Carolina, to meet with the up and coming professionals. For some reason, the only two people who met with this dude were my best man Mac and my best wo-man Jordana. They joke about the meeting (he told Jordana to part her hair down the middle- y’know, for career success) but one thing that the guy said to Mac stayed with him and has haunted our conversations ever since. He said, “people don’t buy intellectually. They buy emotionally and then justify the purchase intellectually.”

And that’s where we are with politics, religion and science. Do you go to church once a week? Then you are going to find a way to justify the war in Iraq. Because you are voting for the guy who says Jesus is his favorite philosopher. Do you never go to church? Then you are going to be against the war in Iraq. Because you are voting for the guy that will protect our civil rights regardless of theoretical moral imperatives.

But none of that has anything to do with the war in Iraq. Going to war in Iraq with little regard for the fiscal fall out to the United States is a *liberal* action. It is the *left* that has always raised their voices against imperialist governements, against tyrants who trample on the human rights of their people. We bitched and screamed during the 90s because Clinton wouldn’t stop the bloodshed in Africa and Southern Europe.

(Don’t fucking start with me, Iraq is a retarded war. Iraq should have been 17th on our list of countries to invade. We all know it, I’m not supporting the war. This war, I believe, will prove to be the undoing of America as a superpower, like when England tried to fight the French and the Americans at the same time in the 18teens. I love America, the idea, the points upon which our country was founded, and this war is going to prove to be the end of our great experiment. It won’t happen overnight, but we are fucked, and it’s because of this war. So don’t get all up in my face, that’s not my point.)

The real problem we have is that Bush attacked the muslims because he believed God told him to, and to avenge his father. It’s all wonderful and Shakespearean, but those of us who don’t believe that God speaks to people are outraged and terrified. If this man believes that the end of days is approaching, what’s to stop him from making irrational decisions? If this man thinks that Jesus is coming back soon, he’s going to act like there aren’t another 250 thousand years before our planet gets too close to the sun for comfort. And we’re horrified because we feel that Bush may not even be aware that our planet is round, let alone getting closer to the sun. And I’m pretty sure we’re wrong about that, Bush knows a lot more than we give him credit for.

Now, I’ve got almost no common ground with Bush. It’s weird, they’ve picked a guy to be president with whom I have *nothing* politically in common. His father was pro-choice and not terribly religious, Reagan was, y’know, in SAG, but this guy I don’t think I could have a conversation with him. I don’t understand the way his mind works, I don’t understand why he says the things he does, I don’t understand or agree with a single action he has taken since becoming president.

But I come by that with a shitload of reading. (Sometimes, knowing I’m an idiot works to my advantage, I have to do research or I’ll be stuck there with my pants around my ankles). I don’t agree with half of what Kerry wants to do, but I’ve also accepted that I’m an artist living in New York, married to a Jew, who played golf all day on Monday. I’m not a regular guy, and I have to accept that the country shouldn’t bow to my will. I can’t expect the full fiscal weight of the government would go toward creating lasting pieces of art at the expense of large corporations. I’ll vote that way, but I know I’m in the minority.

I’m just trying to think before I buy. Don’t call the president an idiot just because he believes that Jesus told him to invade Iraq. Almost everyone in America believes that God has talked to someone, and even those who don’t, do believe in some kind of higher power that is helping them, leading them. Call him an idiot because he believes a war in Iraq will bring peace to America, which is stunningly wrong-headed. Never in history has this been true, and our President made his decision long before he had enough information to even make a guess.

All I’m asking is, are you saying he’s an idiot because of the Jesus thing, or because of the bad policy thing? On the other hand, are you supporting the tax cuts and the war because you think they really have improved our lives, or is it because you think this man loves the same man you do? Or more, I’m not asking that question, I’m saying that it’s an important distinction. It’s important to cast our vote intellectually before we let ourselves justify it emotionally. When someone challenges you on your position, listen to what they’re saying and then go do some research. It’s got to be better than dismissing it out of hand, and it’s the only chance we have of stopping the impending destruction of America.