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Political diversity would help us all

Monday, April 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:53 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

People who do not want either the Republican or Democratic nominees for president will in all likelihood get one or the other. After the upcoming presidential election, these folks will have another four years to build other political parties. If other parties are formed, the remaining question will be whether they can ever manage to raise enough money to win the office.

Frankly, I think it will be as difficult to reform our political system as it will be to rebuild Iraq. I think we have allowed our two-party system to flounder for too long to be able to perform an easy fix. The process of trying to weed out political corruption alone would seem to be overwhelming.

Many people, of course, are looking for a “perfect” candidate. This would be the candidate with whom they could agree about everything. This person would be either a Catholic or a Protestant since most Americans say they are religious. This person would probably be white, older and male since this seems to be the role model that politicians and the media seem to be set on. For the entire past year, hardly any person not fitting that description has been asked to comment on the state of the union. By looking at the television news programs, one would not believe Hispanics will soon be the majority population. But even then, I suspect the television media and the politicians will believe the country will still look to white, older males for leadership.

It’s interesting that while many of us in some parts of America, in 2004, take diversity in our work places and our social and family lives for granted, political leaders and the television media obviously don’t notice the lack of it in their relationships. It tends to make me wonder if the great racial divide is really less prevalent among ordinary Americans than it is among those who enjoy high visibility. Maybe everyday people are going to have to take the initiative to instruct the political leadership and the media on the importance of inclusiveness in our national and global life. It’s as if these folks have forgotten that young people, women and minorities have the right to vote. But do you notice it’s always these people who want to tell the rest of us about diversity?

There is no single group that is responsible for the good life many people enjoy in America today. Minorities have been fighting for freedom since the Revolutionary War. In fact, Crispus Attucks, a black man, was among the first to give his life in that conflict. As I have pointed out before, a member of my own family has participated in every war since the Civil War, except the War in Iraq. Woman have also always contributed to the war effort. Before they were soldiers, they were mothers of soldiers. And while older white males have certainly done their share to keep the country safe and secure, today they are sitting on the sidelines talking about war while young men and women are on the battlefield. Perhaps if given the chance, some young people on the home front might have a thing or two to say about their future. It’s possible some of them might not wish to rule the world and might want to live at peace with people around the globe.

If you observe the average crowd of schoolchildren today, you will probably notice that on the whole they are a lot more tolerant of differences among each other than were their grandparents. The passage of Civil Rights legislation has enabled people who are racially and culturally different to learn to live together peacefully. As we know from our history, when people are taught to hate others based on cultural perceptions, it sometimes takes generations to undo the damage.

It would be helpful if educational institutions and grassroots organizations would enlist the assistance of scholars and individuals of various cultures and hold discussion forums that would allow us to get to know the people with whom we share this planet. For example, as a Christian, I am exhausted with trying to combat misinformation about Islam. There is factual material available in libraries and on the Internet, so there is absolutely no excuse for the ignorance peddled by people who wish to spread hate and distrust. If people were disseminating this kind of garbage about Judaism, there would be an overwhelming outcry. Obviously, many people do not realize that Arabs are also Semites and that speech and behavior constituting anti-Semitism applies to them as well.

I hope by the time of the presidential election, the situation in Iraq will be settled. As far as I’m concerned, we definitely need to raise the level of discussion on our national interests. We live in a different world than the one in which all these old generals fought wars. Over time, some people have learned many disagreements can be settled by diplomacy and conflict resolution.

On behalf of those who may still be here 50 years from today, could we ever possibly give peace a chance?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.


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