Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

Politics

on October 6, 2013

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As my friends know, I don’t have a whole lot to say about politics.  Not because I don’t have opinions – I do.  I vote every time I get a chance, and I’m proud to participate in the democratic process.  I believe strongly that the government of the United States of America affords the greatest protections to all of its citizens under our system of federal, state and local laws.  It is far from perfect, but for the most part, we as Americans still can count on our inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, without undue interference from our neighbors or our government.  If you don’t believe that’s the case, go travel around.  Get accused of a crime in India or Singapore or Russia and then see what you think about our laws.  And don’t talk to me about the NSA.  They aren’t reading your email.  They aren’t interested in you.

I don’t talk about politics or religion on Facebook or on this blog because I don’t see that there’s any point to it.  I think it’s almost impossible in this medium to a) persuade someone that your opinion is the correct one, or b) have a truly meaningful conversation.  If I’m going to have a discussion with you about politics or religion (and believe me, I really don’t want to), then I’ll do it when we’re sitting down, face to face, with either a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in our hands.

So, I’m not actually going to talk about politics.  I am certainly not going to join the finger-pointing parade.   I don’t have anything to say about it that hasn’t been said, is being said, or will be said.

This is what I think about politics:

It’s not important.

Before you go getting all upset, hear me out.  I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t care about who gets elected or what we believe about life – we should.  What I am saying is that we’ve become addicted to arguing about it, and blinded by our anger.

I want you to ask yourself, to ask your heart, why you are so angry with people whose outlook on the issues of the day are different from yours?  Why do you get so mad it makes you want to scream at them?  What makes you feel such hatred towards them?  Why do you go looking for “evidence” of their “lies” on the internet (which is hardly a bastion of unbiased truth)?  I ask you these questions because they are the questions I ask myself.  I’m no saint – I struggle daily with my anger towards those who support programs that I believe are actively harmful to our society and to people I know and love.  It bewilders me, and my emotions respond with impotent rage.

But raging against the forces at work doesn’t change anything.  It also has the negative effect of changing my focus from what’s truly important in life to the argument itself, allowing my emotions to dictate my actions.  One way I use to avoid this cycle of overreaction is to judge the relative importance of any divisive issue by this simple yardstick:  will this thing, whatever it is (gay marriage, special local option sales tax, Obamacare) separate me from my loved ones?  Will it keep me from showing compassion to my fellow man?  If the answer is “No”, then it isn’t important.  You may be thinking “Well, by that measure, you’re saying that none of these issues is important!”

You would be right.  That’s exactly what I’m saying.

I believe that the only thing that we should be concerned about is how we treat each other.  If we aren’t treating our fellow man with kindness and compassion, we are doing wrong.  I’m so tired of the hatefulness that we have come to accept as “the way things are”, the greed and lust for power that leads our elected officials to behave like spoiled children, and the intractableness of opinions that divide friends and families. I’m tired of it, but none that stuff actually prevents me from loving my fellow man.  It’s just noise.

So until the next time I get to vote for people who support my values, I’ve decided to try something else.  I’ve decided that I will focus on what I can do, today and every day, to make the world a better place.  I can’t yell and jump up and down and change peoples’ hearts and minds, but what I can do is choose not to engage in the hate fest.  I can decide to continue to love my friends with whom I emphatically disagree.  I can choose to be kind.  Getting angry only perpetuates the problem, and keeps us on this downward path.

And one of the results of taking this path is now right in front of us.  The fact that the federal government has mostly ceased to function is terrible.  However, it isn’t the fault of the President or of Congress.

It’s our fault.  We put those politicians there.  Right now you may be thinking that YOU didn’t vote for the people who are causing all the trouble, so you’re not responsible, but I’m telling you that it doesn’t matter if you did or not.  Something about how we’ve gone about doing things in the past forty years or so has created the climate we now find ourselves in, so yes, all of us, me included, is responsible for the gigantic pile of crap currently located in our nation’s capital.

So it’s up to us to fix it.  What we want for ourselves and for our country will be manifested by how we treat each other.  You must be willing to forgive someone who you think doesn’t deserve it, to try to understand someone who you believe with your whole heart to be wrong, and to love the people you believe are destroying the country.  These are the choices we all must make; not between Republican and Democrat, but between Judgment and Grace.

It is only when we change our focus from our need to be right to our desire to understand can we move beyond this place in our history.  We all need to stop worrying about politics and start looking for things we can do, right now, to break the cycle.  If we stopped fueling the engine of hatred and divisiveness, it will slow down, and eventually, it will come to a halt.  Ignore the idiots in Washington.  They’re like children throwing a temper tantrum – if you stop engaging, they’ll shut up and get on with it.

The hardest part?  You have to do it whether the “other side” does it or not.  This is how it works.  Jesus knew it.  Gandhi knew it.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew it.  The road will be hard, there will be setbacks, and people will take advantage of your seeming “passivity”.  But it is the only way to heal the divisions in our relationships and in our country.  We must choose love over hate and compassion over power.

What will you choose?

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Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

photo credit: Micky** via photopin cc

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2 responses to “Politics

  1. Karen Joslin says:

    Well said Amanda… may the entirity of the human race evolve to this level soon

    Like

  2. Tom Kenny says:

    I love your comments on politics. You hit the nail on the head. You inspire us to light a candle instead of cursing the dark

    Like

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