Time to put political axes away

By Dave Bowen

I read the “GOP Propaganda” article in the Jan. 1 Idaho State Journal and really appreciate learning the definition of propaganda. Propaganda is when someone only gives their view of the subject, whether factual or not. A propagandist can seem wise and reasonable with specific opinions and calls to action.

I’m sure when the author wrote about those “propagandists” gaining the trust of their audience by using simple slogans and catchy phrases he wasn’t talking about slogans like “Yes we can” or “Change you can count on” or “Fundamentally transform America.” He certainly wasn’t referring to calls to action like the “Occupy” movement. The problem with believing that one party has all the answers is that it limits your thinking.

Too many people in our country have bought into the idea that only the government can fix all our problems. I believe in the principle that, “When you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. When you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.” The problem with big government today is that it continues to take more fish from those who know how to fish. In many cases taking their fish isn’t even enough; the government takes their fishing poles too by regulating them completely out of business. The unfortunate part is that while there are many who truly need help, there are others who are happy to take the fish year after year without even trying to learn how to fish.

I recently worked in some very needy parts of a few eastern U.S. cities. I saw the despair in the eyes of those who live in the “bad” parts of those cities. Some have given up hope of ever finding a better life. I spent time in the homes of many who were scared to live there but they have no way to get out. I was “jumped” on a street in one of those cities because I was “a white man in a black neighborhood” (the words used by the young man in court when asked by the judge why he did it). I had a hard time being angry with this young man because I could see that his environment had created his attitude. I believe that in many cases, big government creates those situations with its “free fish” programs.

I submit that neither government, nor political parties have the answers to our problems—but people do. We should be working on our problems as people, not as Republicans or Democrats. As long as we politicize every problem or issue in this country we will never find permanent solutions to any of the problems that face our society. We will continue to make decisions based on our own individual party, group or self interest. Until we can come together as people to solve our problems we will continue down the path of division and self interest. If we can open our eyes we may even find that we agree with some people from both sides of the aisle.

Every election desperately needs us to be less about party and more about character, morals and principles. I don’t believe that one “party” has a monopoly on any of those qualities. I also don’t believe that the problems in this country can be solved by politicians. They can only be solved by people and communities, like ours, coming together.

We live in a community that has come together many times to build a house, a playground or in hundreds of other ways to help people in need. We have two city governments (Chubbuck and Pocatello) that are setting a wonderful example of cooperation for the greater good. We have weathered the present economic storm better than many parts of the country because we don’t wait for government to fix our problems. We roll up our sleeves and go to work. We understand the difference between a hand out and a hand up and we prefer the latter. We also believe that WE know what is best for Idaho better than “Washington” does.

Yes, propaganda is a huge problem in this country. It is not limited to one single political party. We must open our minds and hear the ideas of others in order to find perspective. Then we must educate ourselves with the facts, not simply with meaningless slogans or catchy phrases.

Personally I believe that 2012 can be our best year yet, but it is up to us. Do we believe in each other or do we each have our own personal political ax to grind (by the way, I don’t own an ax, but I do know how to fish).

Dave Bowen is a Pocatello resident who has been a brick mason for nearly 40 years.