Any death is an opportunity to take stock of our own lives, and Senator Kennedy's death is no exception. Over the course of the day I've been reading what people on all sides have had to say about the Senator, with special attention to right-leaning national blogs (I'll spare you the links, it's some ugly stuff). In the course of that immersion I've been struck by the extent to which our country is teetering on the brink of wholesale insanity.
Seeing extreme expressions of hatred of Kennedy and Obama is a frightening dose of reality that I've been in denial about. Because despite the tea-baggers and bus drivers storming town halls all over America, I've been pretending it's no big deal. I've been pretending it's just free speech at its best and worst, all rolled up into a bundle of irrational fear.
Well, it is a big deal, and it is a problem I'm sorry to say I used to be part of. In the early days, BlueNC was an attack dog, going after George Bush and North Carolina's Republican extremists with the same intensity that tea-baggers are going after Obama today. Bush could have dropped dead at any second during his presidency and I would have been nothing but happy. But somewhere along the way, mostly as a result of my own writing, I began to question my own hostility toward a man that I thought (still think) was ruining our country. I even created a movement to promote the idea of doing good, being nice, and having fun - with my own personal mission of living life in that sweet spot. It hasn't been easy.
But easy doesn't matter. I'm still on the trail, taking at least one small step every day toward the sweet spot, looking for ways to criticize without resorting to sarcasm and ridicule, to challenge adversaries with compassion and integrity. I may not change the world, but then again, you never know. And it's not like I'll get another shot at doing this right.