The first time Mitt Romney caught my attention was in 2007, when he ran for president for the first time. I saw him on television, talking about the “three-legged stool” that supports a stable democracy: strong military, strong economy, and strong families.
What a gasbag, I thought.
Mitt and Marijuana
But what really iced my disdain for Romney at about this time was a YouTube video of him blowing off a medical pot patient, a guy in a wheelchair who suffered from muscular dystrophy and posed Romney the question: “Would you have me and my doctor arrested?”
Romney’s response: “I’m not in favor of medical marijuana.”
“But would you have me arrested?” persisted the guy in the wheelchair.
Romney awkwardly moved away, repeating, “I’m not in favor of medical marijuana.”
I felt that this interchange really exposed Romney for the smarmy poser I deemed him to be.
Now I Wish I Could Thank Him in Person
I don’t think what Romney did the other day can be overestimated. He may have saved the country. He may have saved the world.
I’m not kidding. He stood up, against his own best interests, knowing he would suffer for it, and made a succinct, incisive, thorough and devastatingly truthful statement.
While his colleagues were sunk in moral relativism and ambiguity, Romney proved to the world two things:
- That he is the man he has claimed to be all along. (“I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am.”)
- That truth can shine with a clarifying light, revealing what’s authentic and what’s bullshit. Both his reasoning and his passion were beyond question.
Have you not seen this yet? Absolutely the most inspiring statement I’ve ever seen by a politician. He put a marker in the sand. He provided a life raft of sanity. The impacts will unfold over time.
I largely disapprove of Mitt Romney’s politics. And I certainly don’t share his religion. I’m a radical agnostic. I believe, fervently, that it is patently impossible for a human being to know whether or not God exists, and that no human conception of God – if “God” does exist – could ever even begin to describe the reality of what God is. So … suffice to say I’m no Mormon. (That’s Mitt’s religion. I’m not a Christian either, incidentally.)
But being a radical agnostic, I’m also agnostic about agnosticism. That is to say, I can’t know if my agnosticism is correct either.
What is it that Jesus said in the Bible? “By their fruits ye shall know them”?
This week, I bow to Mitt Romney’s moral courage and integrity, and if Mormonism is what got him there, I bow to that too.
Empathy and Curiosity
Hopefully the Higher Thought game contributes to a world that expresses more empathy and curiosity. We believe it does.
Meanwhile, the Twitterverse, Facebook, and the whole Internet zip and zing and jingle-jangle with ever-pokier bite-sized snark.
Where is the hope for our politics today?
I’m inspired by what my friend Barbara is doing with Changing the Conversation Together. Basically, they are a bunch of canvassers without scripts. They walk their “turf,” prowling for soul connection and long, leisurely conversation. (Maybe they should bring our game with them as a prop?)
The organization’s director, Adam Barbanel-Fried, explains, “We want to form a national corps of deep canvassers that embraces compassion and inclusion.”
Here’s a great story from the New York Times about what they do. The article is entitled To Sway Swing Voters, Try Empathy.
Something to Be Grateful For
I’m grateful for the existence of an inspired effort like Changing the Conversation Together and for the shining example of one individual’s conviction this week in the U.S. Senate. Trump is a beast. I’m not going to mince words. This is not a political newsletter, but these are not normal times.
Of course, Trump is also a human being, not just a beast, and I don’t pretend to know what makes him tick, but that’s none of my business.
As I said, I’m agnostic. Still, I hold a belief that compassion, curiosity, empathy, and humility are qualities which may yet overcome the diabolical force I think of as TrumpISM in this country, and I pray that they will.