Monday, November 08, 2004

Not A Political Site

For as long as I can remember, I have always been blissfully ignorant of politics and world affairs. My dad watches the news everyday, we subscribe to TIME, and I'm an avid reader, but I have never made the effort to educate myself on what's happening around the world. Part of that disinterest was due to the difficulty in understanding the news without sufficient knowledge in history and geography. History and geography have always been my weakest areas. I pride myself in knowing a substantial amount of music history, but I know nothing about the Gulf War, the conflict in the Middle East, and everything that has led to the topics in today's news. You'd be embarrassed at how little I know. It wasn't that I didn't care. Indifference, something I master at, was not what I felt towards world events. On the contrary, I react strongly to things I see and read about. Too strongly, perhaps. Reports of suffering and death cut me like knives. I don't need prior knowledge of world history to comprehend the level of pain that people are experiencing around the world. I see image after image of wounded children, I read story after story of terrorist attacks. They make me cry. Every single one of them.

I didn't see the point in following the news. It was too much effort, and nothing was going to alleviate the despair I felt. I recall nights in front of the computer, browser open to a news source, tears rolling down my face; newspaper open on my lap, mug of tea gripped in one hand, reading about the hundreds of Russian children that died when they were taken hostage, feeling such a palpable sense of loss and helplessness. Everything was fucked up. I was fucked up. While waiting at the doctor's I picked up a copy of MacLeans and on the first page I glanced at was a picture of a little boy and his father, sitting on the floor inside a yard surrounded by barbed wires. The father had a heavy, metal-like hood over his head, and was holding his son tightly in his arms. The caption stated that the father was a prisoner and was not allowed to be with his son. The son became extremely terrified and uncontrollable and was finally allowed to be with his father. The image showed, through the wires, the little boy looking into the distance, unaware of the danger and tragedies that lie ahead, content that his father was there and that everything was going to be okay. I broke down in that waiting room. Once again, I totally lost my shit.

I didn't want to subject myself to that kind of pain and tried to avoid potential bad-news sources. For weeks TIME published features on the occupation in Iraq, and it was something I couldn't understand and didn't really want to know anyway, so I read about robotic vacuum cleaners and Paris Hilton instead. I know everything about Paris Hilton.

Things changed this year. I was aware of the election and the candidates. I had some grasp on the issues being debated, and learned a lot about the two parties. I don't know what sparked the change. I was definately influenced by bloggers and online magazines. Everyone credited the number of new voters this year to the stakes, which are much higher they say. I don't really know what that means. I've always been very skeptical of the difference one man can make. Okay, let me rephrase. I've always been very skeptical of the effect one man in another country can have on me. While I know the candidates hold strong convictions and want the best for their country (and themselves), I hated the way they talked about each other. I know neither of them can accomplish all their goals and hold to all their promises, but they still have to be made and there has to be the effort. Instead of discussing goals, everything turned into a diatribe against the other side. The high level of Bush-hatred in Canada naturally drew my uninformed self unto the side most Canadians are on, although I am still unsure of where I stand because I know so little.

For the first time, I prayed for the world. I prayed for the suffering, I prayed for world leaders. Before the election, I prayed not for a particular candidate but for the guidance and wisdom of the American people. I prayed for a good leader.

Praying is all - and the best - I can do. And if you're like me, praying is the best you can do too.

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