Right speech

Now and then I get an urge to pay attention to politics. I used to read about politics and comment on political issues. I’ve been to Chico Silly Council meetings, and once I even went to a meeting of the Butte County Board of Ignoramuses. My problem is that I think of them as the Silly Council and the Board of Ignoramuses, and my experience of them alters my perception of them.

Wikipedia says right speech is “Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter.” I’ve been looking for a way to keep to right speech and talk about politics at the same time. I’m still looking. I’m sure it can be done. I’ve met a few City Council members, and they seem like decent people, just maybe afraid of more things than is good for them and trying to satisfy a lot of people at the same time, which isn’t good for anybody.

I’ve been trying to like Obama—I really have—but this embrace of super PACs after dissing them specifically not all that long ago was yet another last straw. The sole remaining honorable Chicago politician died, I think, in the nineties, and I’ve never expected much from Obama, although I admit I did expect something. Torture, domestic spying, any underhanded government policy is fine with him. What bill of rights?

I still just barely manage to think Barack Obama may be a decent person. If I were an old-fashioned, judgmental kind of guy, I might, if I were also both uncharitable and folksy, say Obama warn’t worth a bucket of warm spit. I may be all those things but I won’t say it anyway, because I don’t think that’s right speech. Nate, a local political analyst, says Obama is the least worst candidate, and he may be right.

The Republican wannabes are a disheartening lot, though not quite beneath contempt. Robert Williams and I came to blows over the 1956 Presidential race, and although I won my enthusiasm has waned steadily ever since. Based on everything I’ve seen and heard, a lot of people in the United States are ignorant, quite a few are stupid, and several of the dummies are frequently on television. Even if that’s true, I don’t know that it’s right speech. Even if it’s not abusive or divisive, it’s still idle chatter.

Whenever I read or hear about some political development or discussion, I can often think of a lot of things to say or write about it, and all of it is wrong speech—true, apt, and no help at all. I’m sure all I need is practice, for which there are fortunately myriad opportunities.

Posted Thursday, May 10th, 2012 under judgment, kindness, perspective, tolerance, Uncategorized.

2 comments

  1. Hi Anthony,

    Good piece!

    I was thinking of you the other day so it was interesting when your item came up in my Facebook stream.

    I read this very interesting essay and while it is difficult to read because of the way it was scanned from a print document, I think you might enjoy the writing and the concepts:

    http://www.richardsennett.com/site/SENN/UploadedResources/1998_Raoul_Wallenberg_Lecture.pdf

    Regards,

    Ward

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