Saturday, August 30, 2008

Politics As Theater

"Nothing is just one thing."
-Virginia Woolf

A couple friends have reacted to my amusement at McCain's choice of v.p. as if I'd said I want to bomb Iran.
His choice has a kind of a John Wayne swagger.
It makes for good theater, stirs things up.
I appreciate that.
That's all I meant.

A lot of electoral politics--on everybody's part--is theater.
Theater is entertaining and enormously important; but I try not to let it sway my fundamental decisions, to the extent I can. (I know it does anyway--I'm a member of a social species, after all.)
I liked The Dark Knight too, but I would never vote for a fascist like Batman.

I grew up around people who enjoyed getting worked up about politics, and I came to distrust that.
Too often it has looked to me like the way people get excited about television shows or spectator sports (or even religion)--expending a lot of energy on highly charged emotions and very little on the plain old dull work of, say, showing up for neighborhood associations or the hard slog of loving your neighbor.

Some of the most hateful things I've ever heard have come out of the mouths of people who believe in peace, love, and understanding.
Sad to say, I have to include myself in that.

Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh says a lot of people in the peace movement can write an angry letter of opposition, but can they write a political love letter?

Here's a question that interests me immensely:
How do I learn to do that?

Movie Moment:

As Julie Delpy's character Celine says to Ethan Hawke's Jesse in Before Sunset,
The folks who can write a political love letter, they aren't running for high office.
They're the ones making sure some dirt-poor school in Mexico get pencils.

It's not that simple, I know--we still have to muddle through political elections, and of course at root they are deadly serious.

But hey, if a candidate wants to enliven the proceedings by wearing feather boas, I'm all for it.

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