I was on a walk with a teenager back in October when she said to me, “If Obama is re-elected I may not get to vote in four years.”
She had a lot of fear about this, that Obama would wreck America, that he would strip her of all rights, including the right to vote.
As a kid, I never thought I’d lose my right to vote, but I did have fears. I was scared that something bad would happen if Clinton became president. The whole country would be wrecked, we would have no more rights. I saw families bury guns and gold in the backyards, and it hurt my stomach because my family did not.
And I saw the fear with Obama before his first election, only this time I was an adult. But I still heard it, and I began to understand the fear I had as a child. I heard that if we have socialized health care, then all the doctors would quit. I heard that socialism will destroy the family, and destroy our values, and we will have no freedom. ever. I heard that we would lose our rights to guns, and then people would come and kill us. I heard that if gay marriage became legal, then pastors would be jailed for not marrying a gay couple. I heard fear, fear, fear.
Libby Anne wrote a good post on fear and the Religious Right group Focus on the Family.
I no longer see the Right or Left as ruining the world, and I don’t see either party as solving the world’s problems. This has everything to do with my travels through Europe and Asia.
Switzerland has so many social programs, and it was so clean and safe. And Germany, I loved Germany so much, and spent a few days staying with a German couple as well. They have strict gun laws there. Yet I never felt unsafe. Perhaps it was all an illusion. But their transportation system worked, and in Switzerland my expensive tourist tax I paid at the campgrounds gave me free buses, buses that more than paid for my tax. Despite my American friends (who also never travel) claim that Europe is so expensive thanks to socialism, it really wasn’t that bad.
And I have so many stories from Asia. Thailand is one of the most free countries that I have visited. In a sense, they are the opposite of what democrats push for because they have so few state regulations. Here is a good article on the chaos in Thailand. During their festivals, hundreds end up in the hospital injured or killed. And every day traffic is a death trap. Yet Thailand attracts huge number of tourists and expats a year, and has probably two of the most well known and famous festivals in the world, Loy Kratong and Songkran. The first is a lantern festival where thousands of lanterns are released into the sky at once. The latter is a water fighting festivals where 20,000 people will gather in the street, along the water canals and dump water on each other for hours and hours. Even a simple trip to the grocery story will result in someone with a high powered hose drowning you in water. Its national water fighting week. 24/7.
In this part of the article, it raises the question, what if there is a time when Thailand pulls in the regulations and makes their country a safer place, what then?
It’s probable that in the future your niece will be less likely blinded during Loy krathong as she pushes off her float into the river, and your nephew will have less chance of being electrocuted to death when he leans against a sign under a Phuket rain storm. You might not get stabbed or shot for a small loss of face in a disco with no fire exits, or tortured by the police until you sign a statement of guilt or pay for your innocence. It’s even likely that there will be a cause of death for your daughter, and her best friend, after they woke up blue one morning instead of watching the sunrise over the jungle. I’m not sure though that if when this time comes, many people will be taking their holidays in the land of smiles. It’s likely they’ll be looking for the next piece of untouched exotica where they can get a room and an iced-coconut for just a modicum of their precious currency, where the rules are lax, the ceilings fall in, and the cars smash into millions of pieces when drunks sleep at the wheel.
And to me that states a lot of my journey. I loved Switzerland. I loved that it was clean and safe. Parts of socialism is very appealing. But I also love the chaos I’ve found in Asian countries. I love buying cheap food, and I love that getting someone an income can be as simple as a buying them a wheel barrow.
And I don’t know which I prefer. I guess that’s why I travel because I love variety so much.
But the fear tactics I don’t dig. Each country I visit is what it is. Each system comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Of course, all ideas are not equal. There are some things that need an immediate stop in Thailand, for example, such as the divorce laws. But I am not sure, if we ask who is happier, the westerners who live in insulated walls and have nice cars, or the Asians who have their motorcycle chaos and live in a barn? I’m not sure what is better, street food that provides everyone some income, or corporations that provide some people a nice job and leaves the poor class unemployed?
I’m not sure. I just know I don’t dig fear tactics anymore.
And I’ve often wondered are kids growing up on the left fearful of the right? fearful of what might happen if their two mommies can’t get married, or fearful of what if guns aren’t abolished?
I’m interested in input.