27 October, 2008

Politics and Education

Recently, I have been sharing an email exchange with a friend. She happens to be a registered Republican, but has had her share of frustration with her party. She is really disappointed that Hillary is not on a ticket as she would have crossed the party lines to vote her way.

Our exchanges, though, are really brought about due to the "fear" campaigning out of McCain's camp. This friend still thinks of Obama as a Muslim with Muslim connections and has decided that he is not patriotic due to the fact he didn't have his flag pin on. (Let's get educated on the idea of freedom of religion and freedom of choice to wear what we want when we want).

I know there are people in this country with certain hang ups and limitations when it comes to being inclusive, however, it never ceases to amaze me when I realize I know one of them. These ideas of fear seem to take advantage of those with less education. This idea is the one that has spurred many a dialogue among my friends. Here is my opinion on the issue at hand...

My education and training is in development theory. Imagine every possible type of person in this country, gay, white, black, lesbian, disabled, religious affiliation etc. Then take your top theorists and practitioners and develop a system in which these different groups trend to develop in their lifetime. There are certain peaks and plateaus reached by all groups. This was the focus for my Master's Degree and I have applied these ideas in my professional life as well.

I found this interesting correlation between personal development and political affiliation. If you watch the electoral maps, you will note those areas trending Democratic are areas of higher learning typically. The areas trending red or traditionally thought of as the GOP base are rural areas. Rural areas tend to lack certain access, whether it be to cable, internet, education, social programs etc. The ideas are homegrown and usually sustained by religion institutions.

When we study development theory, we learn that most people start out as the infant stage, having basic needs met and being taught what to believe. As the person matures, these ideas are sustained through family and community. Once the person hits adulthood, they will adapt these ideals as their own, unless challenged or faced with something different, either a perspective or experience. After this challenge/opportunity for growth, the individual has to make sense of it and place it is context to their own being. The goal would be to find a place for this new idea and to move forward in their development. Learning and growing in new ways to become a multifaceted human being that is open to newness and opportunity. But we know through time, that change is not seen as opportunity to some. In fact, change is seen as something foreign, unacceptable and unrelatable. This is when we see people becoming close minded and shut off from expansion.

When a person decides to close off, they become entrenched in their circle of influence, being family, community etc. They are unwilling to grow further and have in essence stunted their growth and development. Let's put this example in context. Remember in our history when different immigrant groups arrived to North America? Each group was told to stay together, marry one of your own kind, hold onto your traditions, etc. If that idea held true, then there would be no Irish Italians, Jewish Cubans, English Germans or French Scots. We would have stayed in our own circle of development and stagnated. But the few who took that leap of faith and saw possibility created a culture we now know. How beautiful this culture is today!

We can share in culture, history, tradition and open ourselves to a wealth of experiences. I for one am glad that my mother stepped outside of her Italian Catholic Sandbox to play with my Southern Baptist Dad. Then I took this idea and married my Jewish New Yorker hubbie. My children are able to learn a myriad of cultures, share in several traditions and they accept it as their life. It isn't strange or odd or wrong, it just is their life and they love it all the same.

Now let's get back to Politics.

Look at each party and define what they stand for. Each one has its base which is telling if you really look at it. This past weekend, I watched D. L. Hughley on CNN ask the following question to a group of young white men, "Define the GOP base, am I one of them?" The young group of white men, laughed out loud and said "No way". So there are definitions of what the base looks like? Clearly we could go into a ton of race issues with this comment, but the truth is there are definitions of a base.

Typically, GOP is supported by ultra conservative Christians, those long standing families with a lot of money and farmers. All of these groups trend white, conservative and limited in their vision. If we apply it to development theory, they are stuck and have decided to not grow beyond their circle of influence.

Democrats seem to capture the mixed bag. You will have the ivy leaguers, the women, the various colors of race, gays, Catholics, Jews, etc. It seems Democrats pull a variety of people because the believe in being inclusive, accepting of all people, no matter the age, race, sexual orientation or religious affiliation.

The Democratic plight is to help all people and to build a strong foundation for which people may grow and develop. They are not interested in stunting growth or instilling fear so people run back to their base. They challenge and promote change. Oddly enough this was the first choice for their campaign slogan, Change!

Now how many of you have heard the following ideas the past 3 months....I am just an ordinary hockey mom, I am not fancy, small town, small town ideas, those high brow, ivy leaguers, Up town, Scranton folks etc. It seems people who are educated are seen as elite and not able to support small town ideas and the average Joe. But I ask you, are we just an average nation, small minded people that live under rocks?

So are we to conclude that educated people are Democrats and uneducated people are Republicans? Listen to Sarah Palin and John McCain, what are they telling you? I wish the media would tackle this topic. I would love to see CNN actually take this idea and explore it further.

The more we develop, embrace change the more we see other people as just people. We start to become inclusive and we tackle issues with greater thought. Issues are not right or wrong, they are complex and take intelligent thought to fully understand.

I hope to have opened some minds to thought if anything else. If we are to be seen as a country of freedom and opportunity then we need to embrace this within ourselves and let go of limitations and fear. We need to expand our level of development and move beyond our own backyards. We must grow beyond limits set by religion, race, age, sexual orientation etc.

There is only one clear choice for me as I do see myself as an educated, high cultured citizen, OBAMA!

1 comment:

Maria Rose said...

I am a highly educated girl from a very small town (in the city now) and I am quite upset with the transparent appeal to the small town mentality.