Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Bitter" Words

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them...each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations. --Barack Obama, fundraising speech in San Francisco, CA, 6 April 2008-- (Audio of speech and partial transcript from blog by Mayhill Fowler, The Huffington Post, 11 April 2008)

It is not my intent for this post to be particularly anti-Obama. While I don't know that I would or could vote for him, remember that this blog is titled, Random Thoughts While Running. These are thoughts, not judgments or decisions. I also reserve the right to be wrong and the right to change my mind. :)

The isssue with Obama's bitter statement, it seems to me, is not saying folks are bitter. That may be too strong of a term but is probably reasonably accurate -- bitter about paying $3.xx for a gallon of gas while oil companies announce record profits; bitter about US soldiers dying in a war that seems unrelated to America; bitter about the loss of a stable, common set of values. But, to state that the result of that bitterness is to retreat into deeply held values is an insult.

Perhaps there are some who, when faced with circumstances out of their control, arm themselves against a perceived coming fight. I don't own a gun but the folks that I know who hold to a strong conviction in the right of Americans to own guns do so because they believe that the US Constitution gives them that right (and, they don't want the government telling them what to do).

Maybe there are some who revert to long-ignored religious practices when they confront life issues that seem to subvert their values and desires. However, I and millions of other disciples of Christ do not cling to our belief in and faithfulness to Christ because we're bitter. I cling to those because Christ is the foundation of my life in good times and bad.

It's easy, when under pressure to misstate something. Our minds, emotions, and tongues work together in a remarkable way. But, sometimes, our emotions cause us to think and say things we would not normally think or say. And, maybe that's what happened with Barack Obama last week. Still, I must say it concerns me. How can one possibly treat deeply held religious beliefs and xenophobia? True, there are some who attempt to justify their xenophia based on an incorrect interpretation of Scripture, but that doesn't mean that Scripture or true Christianity is actually supports xenophobia.

Little slack was given to Mel Gibson when he uttered anti-Semitic comments under the influence of alcohol. It was claimed that those sentiments were an inherent part of Gibson's thoughts and were just released by the alcohol. I can't help but wonder if, deep down, this is how Obama views those who have strong beliefs with which he doesn't agree. Or, did he say this to cater to an audience who he thought would appreciate this particular point of view? Or, was it really and truly a slip of the tongue, an honest misstatement?

Finally, for now anyway, despite Obama's protestations to the contrary, this is a pretty serious slip of the tongue, no matter what precipitated it. Is this how Obama would function as President? I certainly hope not.

Run well, y'all,
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