Sunday, September 21, 2008

Salt of the Earth & the Fellowship of All

Through my weeks- long, multistate meanderings East from Denver to my daily travels in New York, one thing that continues to impress me is not how different we all are, but how much alike. Regardless of culture, creed or color, 99% of us want and indeed, need the same things. Although we may differ from time to time on exactly how to effect our ideals, most of agree that, as Maslow's hierarchy of needs pyramid dictates, our priorities lie in meeting our basic needs for physical survival, and move upward toward love, family, community, and self actualization, all of which we need to become fully rounded, content individuals.
Among the questions most often asked about my Convention Odyssey, one of the most frequent has been, "Whom did you meet?" So moved have I been about the brilliant cross section of Americans whose acquaintance I have been blessed to make that I always forget that the actual meaning of that question is, "What FAMOUS people did you meet?" So, I start talking about the many different people whose paths I was lucky enough to cross, who have inspired me with their bravery and heartfulness in meeting the challenges of life, including the many who sacrificed much just to get to Denver and stand for their beliefs, to fight for the Democracy we once knew in America. And then I realize that the question meant the recognizable names...the ones that just skim the surface of my consciousness because they are the same as the rest of us except that their names are perhaps better known. It is difficult for me to separate the famous from the "un"- famous, because to me, those I most admire [and whose secrets of success I want to know!] are those who get up every day and fight the battle of survival...whether famous or not...the "working poor" families and single parent homes without health care...those kids who have "aged out" of foster care and now must make their way in the world with few if any skills...minimum wage workers...people trying to finish [or start!] their education...our warriors heading to the Middle East for the 2nd, 3rd and even 4th time...for THEY are my heroes! I am in awe of all of them, rich or poor, famous or infamous, most of them all just want to get along, and they are my fellow Americans.
Extremism, on the other hand,both left and right, is but a different side of the same coin. Neither respects the rights of others except insofar as they can be employed to buffer their own cause. In that, extremists, both left and right share more in common with one another than with the majority in the middle, with no room for true caring for others outside their small sphere.
The majority of people do not fall into either of these extremists' categories, and as such are only useful to them as potential converts, which they will never be, because of their centrism. We can be grateful for that and live in the hope that a balanced and caring centrism can once again inform government that includes us all.

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