My post yesterday was hardly an attack at the Dean campaign of 2003-04, nor at American politics in general; it was more a recollection of my own--some would argue limited--involvement in the Perfect Storm. I guess we are all influenced by what we do and read and experience, so my approach to contemporary American politics is affected by what I have done during the past ten years. For much of that time, China was my reality. Living in Chinese societies. Learning Chinese. Reading Chinese texts. Listening to Chinese music. Oh yes: eating Chinese food (but not exclusively).
It is only in the past few years that I have attempted to look past the Middle Kingdom. What is ironic about this is that initially, going to China, and then studying Chinese, exposed me--I felt--to a larger world beyond American borders. However, achieving any kind of mastery in a language--really a culture, or cultures--requires of a person to focus all of their energy on that task, to completely immerse themself in the cultural context from which the language arises. So, even while I was exposing myself to something broader, something beyond the world in which I was raised, I also had to narrow my vision on the task at hand. The demands of a graduate program make one narrow it even more. Blogs have been one antidote to this narrowing.
When I look at the political situation in contemporary America, I take with me the baggage--and hopefully insight--of the past ten years. And if we consider the myriad influences on my life since my birth and the entire history of my ancestors before that, then the baggage multiplies.
But, that is true of each of us. Each of us has his or her own unique perspective. If I studied ants or flowers or genes or corporations or teeth or profits or computers or whatever, then my interpretation would be different. The same would be true if I was a poker champion. This isn't a call for relativism. I do believe some answers are better than others. I do believe in principles. However, I am open to a variety of belief systems, and consider tolerance to be one of my most endeared values. I am tolerant of most humans except those who are intolerant--who deny other peoples' right to exist.