On Arizona Politics

People who know me well, know quite well that politically speaking I am, to say the least, extremely conservative. For those of you who think that means I agree with the actions of the conservative Arizona legislature today you are dead wrong. I am appalled, to say the least, that people who claim to be conservative are anything but.

The only thing conservative about them is the width of their thought processes … extremely narrow. And that brings me to the real point of what I want to say. Narrowness of mind has nothing to do with conservative thought. It has to do with the inability to view the world from a wider perspective and it has to do with the inability to realize that freedom of expression does not mean the right to imprison others in a literal or figurative sense.

In addition to the mean spirited nature of what the Arizona legislature did today I’m angered by the fact that all the good loving people, and there are many who are conservative in the sense that I consider myself to be, are painted with a broad brush of hatred by too many who consider themselves to be liberal/progressive. To me, the only difference in the latter and the apparent majority of the Arizona legislature is this.

The conservative narrow minds in our legislature want to consider that their freedoms, for instance, extend to the point where they insist that you should be able to keep much more of your hard earned money, but then turn around and tell you how and on what you spend it. That in a sense reduces your freedoms of choice, which is the essence, in my mind, of the vote of the Arizona legislature …

The liberal/progressive minds consider that you should be able to determine how and on what you spend your hard earned money. The problem with their solution is that they don’t think that you are smart enough or generous enough to know how or on what to spend your money so their solution is to take most of it and spend it in ways they think are more beneficial to you and your neighbors. That also reduces your freedoms … disproportionately.

So, the essence of what I feel about the vote today is this. Get the hell out of my bedroom and while you’re at it, I’ll thank you to get your hands out of my pockets. I’m perfectly capable of observing the needs of the lives around me and who to help and who not to help without your input. I have no need whatsoever to exercise control over any other person.

That is Georgia’s brand of conservatism. If you don’t like it Arizona legislature, put it in your pipe and smoke it. You are not my brand of people.

lWhat can I say? What can I do?

I did something today that I haven’t done in some time. I took a friend, a co-worker, to an AA meeting. The man who shared his story with us was someone that I doubt I’d ever seen before, but our paths had undoubtedly crossed in a foggy and frozen past. His story was not unusual, but it was, of course, different … after all, it was his story. He has spent most of his life in Cheyenne, Wyoming and that is where I believe our paths had crossed.

Like so many of the people who find themselves stating how grateful they are to be “grateful” recovering alcoholics, he shared things about his life that leaves one wondering, “how many different ways can there possibly be to find one’s way to the ultimate solution to a common problem?” What can I say, what can I do, that will make a difference in my life and thus make a difference in the life of another?

For me, the answer is to continue to share the chunks of my life that seem to beg to be shared. But, why do I feel that way? Why should any of the bits and pieces that make up the incomplete puzzle of my existence, make a bit of difference in the lives of people who take the time of their lives to listen to, or read, anything I have to say?

When I was just learning to read, and discovered the amazing children’s library in First Methodist Church, in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, I became fascinated with the lives of people our society held in high esteem, as having contributed something meaningful to the history of our nation, and thus the history of the world. I used to wonder what it would be like to have someone else think that my life was that important. Did they realize that someday someone might feel that they had contributed greatly to the society they helped to create? Was the sole reason for doing what they did, to see their names listed as important to history, or did they function from a pure motive of contributing to the greater good and let history be the judge of their contribution? And, what then of my motive(s), for the acts of my life?

A case in point: I recently had the privilege of speaking at Crafton Hills College in Southern California. It’s the third time I’ve been there and each time I’ve been gratified by the response, but this time was different. In the past, my time has always been limited to what I had to say with no time for people in the audience to question me afterwards. This visit ample time was allowed for questions, and there were plenty of questions; enough so that it had to be brought to an end after nearly an hour of questions, by the professor who’d arranged for the visit. But, one question elevated my pulse to point I’d not experience in several years.

“How do you know that what you’re expressing is not an addiction?”

That was the accusation leveled at me by the pastor of the church I’d been baptized in the first time. My answer now is the same as it was then; “I have an addition. I’m an alcoholic. I think I know the difference better than someone who is neither.” We don’t experience an addiction, we suffer an addiction.

An addiction, the way I understand it and have experienced it, is a compulsion, the surrender to which leads ultimately to dismal and debilitating dysfunction in one’s life. Surrender to the life I live now has not led to dismal and debilitating dysfunction. On the contrary, it has led to a sense of joy and purpose which I never came close to experiencing in my past, including the past which included a sober “George”. Was that answer to her, something which helped her, or anyone else who was listening? I like to think so, but will most likely never know.

What can I say, what can I do, to make my life as important to others as the lives of all those people I read about and was inspired by all those years ago? Can answering absurd questions like the one I just shared be enough, or can continuing to share “my experience strength and hope” be enough for my life to be considered by history as an important contribution? Or is it my purpose in this life, to affect the life of only one other person, whose life has all the ingredients necessary to matter, to the point that they, become more than I aspired to be? What can I say, what can I do? History alone will be the judge of that.

In the meantime I will continue to share my “history” here.