Thursday, May 2, 2013

Goldilocks Politics

You know the story of Goldilocks. A little girl enters the house of three bears, examines their porridge, chairs, and beds before falling asleep in on bed, then gets discovered by the three bears and flees into the woods. The tale is very old, but I'd like to apply it to a very modern issue....political discussion.

On one level it illustrates finding the right fit : not too hot, not  too cold; not too hard, not too soft;
not too big...oops, too small (chair breaks). And it is true that it is important to make sure we are not going to extremes and instead are finding the right fit that will work for us.

But as I pondered using this fable as an example of that I was struck by how there is something that is usually missed in this cute little tale. The girl entered someone else's house and was messing around with their furniture and food. She had no business there and at the end was chased out by those whose house it was.

What does this say? Sometimes we argue over details and miss the big picture. We argue over the details of law and policy and forget that there are real people affected by our actions. There is no human face to our discussions. We talk about immigration without considering immigrants and their situations. We talk about gun violence and forget the shooting victims (case in point: the NRA response to the Newtown shootings). We talk about healthcare without discussing the sick.

We often criticize younger people for doing something hazardous...saying that they think they are invincible, that bad consequences will never happen to them.  This type of thinking is not limited to the young. We do it every day when we debate policy while thinking it is about some "other" group, not us. And even if we would never be affected by it, we still must think how it will affect others.
As the English poet John Donne once wrote, "no man is an island, entire of itself....we are all a part of the whole"

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