Welcome to my blog: Puma for Life. This blog is the result of almost a year of campaigning, first for John Edwards, then Hillary Clinton, and finally for McCain/Palin. In the process I came to realize I am a Puma – a warrior for democracy, truth, justice, and the American way. Rip away my suit jacket, and underneath is a giant P.
My blog name, Puma for Life, has two meanings. First, I have always been a Puma. I have lived a revolutionary life in many ways. I was a 60’s radical, hippie, back to the land settler. I have lived a non-traditional lifestyle. My husband and I settled on an island; built our all-natural home; heated with a woodstove; and made our daily bread, which included grinding the wheat. We made beer and sarsaparilla; recycled our household furnishings from the dump; bought our clothes at the Goodwill. Life was good; certainly not traditional.
Raised in Ohio as a Democrat by my first-generation, blue collar parents, I saw every major Presidential candidate as a child and young adult. I saw Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon; Jesse Jackson and Jerry Brown; and who remembers Fred Harris, the Oklahoma populist with a Native American wife? Name any obscure populist, Democrat running for President and I would be there voting for them.
Sometime in the mid 80’s I began to realize that the Democratic Party had changed…it no longer was the party I grew up in. It was comprised of special interest groups; the traditional base had started voting GOP; I did not like what I saw. That’s when I re-registered as an Independent. During these years, I voted mostly Democratic with a few exceptions, one being Ross Perot. In fact, the state I lived in at the time was one of the states Perot carried.
At some point, I lost interest in politics and began to focus on my spiritual growth and development. I moved a few more times, voted a few more times, but didn’t really get engaged until this past year. How I got from John Edwards to John McCainand Sarah Palin is the tale of another article. Suffice it to say, my individualistic lifestyle coupled with my core values of honesty, truth, justice, and the American Way have stripped away my suit jacket so that the letter P shines brightly from my chest.
Now we come to the second meaning of Puma for Life. This particular aspect of the meaning of my blog name is directly attributable to a phrase Sarah Palin used during the recent political campaign.
Sarah and Wabi-Sabi
Let me make myself clear: I am a pro-choice female. Although I agree that life begins at conception (and we now have the evidence for that), I also know that abortions have taken place since the beginning of human existence. It’s a given: there will always be women who make this decision. Unless we want to charge these women with murder, then abortion must be legal. Furthermore, I believe the decision to abort is an individual one made between the woman, the fetus, and her “god”, in whatever form that takes. It is not the role of government to get involved in this decision. As long as no one is being forced to abort, then the current status quo seems fitting.
Now, back to Sarah Palin. Sarah came to use the phrase “a culture of life” when addressing supporters at her rallies. She was in most basic terms referring to her supporters’ pro-life stance. But she would use this phrase to segue into a discussion on developmental disabilities and the role in our society for those who do not fit into our concept of perfect. Sarah was talking about wabi-sabi.
Wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. I recently purchased a small clay bowl, which was made in the spirit of wabi-sabi. The bowl was imperfect in traditional terms: it was not perfectly round; it had dents and waves. Yet, the simplicity of the design and the obvious imperfections were simply beautiful and very interesting to hold and feel. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent. Through wabi-sabi we learn to embrace human beings who are less than perfect: downs syndrome, mentally ill, physically handicapped or malformed. We embrace them, and as Sarah said, we put them at the front of the line.
Sarah and I choose a culture of life. We approach the world before us in a positive spirit of love and abundance. We chose life not death. And by death, I include negativity; negativity, which leads to a sense of oppression and the need to point fingers at someone and label them our oppressor. Negativity includes the idea of lack; that the pie is limited and some people have a bigger share than others (the oppressor) and that this must be corrected by redistributing the pie. Negativity is the opposite of wabi-sabi.
The Negative Approach
During the course of the campaign, I came across a video filmed in 2007 at Michigan State University . It was a reunion of sds (Students for a Democratic Society) members from the 60’s and two of the keynote speakers were Bill Ayres and Bernadette Dohrn, friends and neighbors of President-elect Obama.
It was Bill Ayres who surprised me as he spoke and referred to “our oppressors.” I wondered just who was this oppressor? Ayres does not seem particularly oppressed. He has a good job; a wife; children; and a home. For someone who normally would be in jail for some pretty serious acts, he’s not doing too badly. But does he really feel oppressed? What piece of the pie does he thinks he should have? I thought how awful it must be to feel so deprived and, yes, oppressed.
As I listened to Obama during the campaign, I heard this same sense of oppression come through him. We need to redistribute because there is limited pie and everyone needs an equal share; we need to reclaim the tarnished reputation of the USA because we have become the oppressor of less fortunate nations; and, the sense that it is better to abort theimperfect fetus than to give birth.
The Dichotomy of Light and Dark
So, the campaign boiled down to the dichotomy between light and dark, positive and negative. The battle was waged and this skirmish provided victory for the shadow.
I have come through this year of battle decidedly on the side of life. Where Obama and Ayres see lack, Sarah and I see abundance. Where Obama and Ayres see oppressor, Sarah and I see endless opportunity. Where Obama and Ayres see imperfection, Sarah and I see beauty; we practice wabi-sabi.
I choose life. And as a Puma warrior, I shall continue on from skirmish to skirmish until the battle is won. Because if there is one thing I have learned on my journey, it’s that the light is stronger than the dark and the light will win at the end.