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Like a milk bucket under a bull

Andrew Scot Bolsinger —

I recall as a kid my father telling me that two topics — best avoided are religion and politics. People are too entrenched, he — said, and the issues are dear to their heart. To criticize these two issues, — is to in some way, criticize them personally.

I considered this like much of my father's advice: something — to be thrown around, stepped on, tested and often enough, discarded. I — became a preacher and talked about religion every day. Then I became a — political reporter and threw politics in the mix. I was a liberal in a — conservative town, a northerner in a southern town, a conservative in — a liberal town and a moderate in a place where moderates is another word — for lukewarm, akin to Revelation 3.

In short, I have spent a lifetime like a milk bucket under — a bull.

When it comes to thoughts and debate and rhetoric, I have — discovered that I am more interested in poking a stick into the eye of — the rattlesnake just to see what the snake will do, than I am into making — friends with the reptile.

I can relate to the Crocodile Hunter as he approaches — a nasty gator and says, "OOH, look at those teeth, aren't they sharp. — Well watch this, he hates it when I do this ..."

But, at least for the foreseeable future, I am taking — a hiatus. I think after 20 years people are much to wound up. Perhaps — my father's advice wasn't all that bad.

The Problem Is

Answers. We have too many answers. What's worse is that — we are more determined than ever to force our answers on every one else — around us. We want Vanilla, not Neapolitan, and if you like chocolate, — well, you deserve all the scorn you get.

Because Vanilla, is the answer. Period.

As a whole, we are much too sure of the answers to listen — and wonder anymore.

In today's Oregonian, a story about twenty-something voters — sheds some light on this. The story's basic tenet is that young, undecided — voters who are finally checking into their political obligation to vote — responsibly, are turned off by much of the debate. Just as young voters — tuned out during the well-worn "lock box" debate of 2000, they are again — saying loud and clear they don't care who did what in some jungle, or — some ROTC unit for that matter, before they were born. They are looking — for someone who is talking about their present. Their immediate present.

And of course, nobody is doing that, because simply put, — young voters don't vote. They don't matter. Nobody really wants to court — them, because their voting turnout is wickedly low, and when they do vote, — they vote overwhelmingly like their parents. So, the logic is simple. — Appeal to the parent and get a few fallout young voters.

Of course, this is a travesty. At precisely the time that — young adults should be allowed to know nothing, explore everything and — find new, creative possibilities for old debates, we are far too often — screaming at them with all the answers we are sure we already know. Religion, — politics, life. These aren't things to be pondered, these are the things — to step in line, follow along to fit in to the right crowd - albeit a — Sunday School class or a drum circle - and carry on the mantra.

Learning isn't in vogue anymore. Knowing is. Belonging. — Having a label: Conservative. Liberal. Yuppie. Hippie. Christian. Atheist — ... ugh.

Wondering

I have always been better as a wonderer, than a knower. — As a preacher I was decidedly disinterested in converting anyone. As a — reporter, I was effective simply because of my disinterest in taking sides. — Over time I became passionately opinionated about not having opinions. — It released the power of wonder in my life. Wondering, brings observations, — which brings reflection, which sometimes, if I am very interested, may — even bring a new solution, result or idea.

True believers on either side can agree on one thing: — People like me make them sick. They see our lack of opinion as a lack — of commitment, or a lack of passion, or even a lack of intelligence.

But perhaps they miss the point. The wondering is exactly — where the fun stuff begins: Thinking something new again.

I read a book once about Native American history called — something like, "We need to dream all this again." The title alone has — become a mantra. Dream it again. And again. Each new day brings a new — possibility. A new creative solution. The process is often far more interesting — than the result anyway.

If any religion or political party, or any group for that — matter, is going to sway a guy like me, it's going to be the one that — truly does value diversity of thought, creative exploration and most of — all, the right to belong despite a healthy disagreement. Every group that — I have seen based on ideas ends up being powerfully divided by those that — believe and are in, and those that don't and are out.

Interestingly, it was Jesus of Nazareth who said, "I am — the way, the truth and the light." From my reading he was supremely confident — that anyone seeking simply truth, not answers, would eventually find him. — But unfortunately, whether it be politics or religion, all around us, — especially in these divided days of '04, most seem convinced they have — the truth about everything, which takes all the fun out of seeking.

If I have one fervent wish for this election, it is that — disconnected voters will reconnect again, or connect for the very first — time. That in a race that there are few bounces because of both sides — being so firmly entrenched in their own truths, the few undecideds will — grab destiny by the throat and choke out a winner themselves. Any small — group of new determined voters can turn this entire election. If college — students could really catch on, they, more than anyone else could decide — who will be the next president of the United States.

Wouldn't that be cool, if they did, and in so doing they — forced the candidates to talk to them, not at them, and even more importantly — to listen to what they need to succeed in life in the coming decade. Wouldn't — it be refreshing to see a candidate, not with all the answers, but with — a sheer drive to dream it all again?

If the rest of us would only be less sure, those that — aren't just might find the time and the interest to become more so.