Conflict makes me cringe. I’ll avoid it with a passion. I just want peace and harmony. No surprise that this was my favorite commercial while I was growing up.
Political debate: I hate. Musicians spats: leave me cold. Lover’s quarrels: detestable. Religious conflict: breaks my heart. Irrational idealist? That might be me.
In a normal day, I hear people frequently voice their opposition to something or some one. I do this too. Why? Thought doesn’t seem to play nearly as large a role as feelings in why a person believes what they do. I constantly hear statements that can not be made unless there is real proof. The difficulty that any one of us has in acquiring definitive proof that something is true is mind boggling. Just because some one we like says it’s so doesn’t make it so. Even if they cite scientific research, be very careful. Biases are real and follow the money. Who funded the study and what they have to gain by the outcome matters. It matters more than truth or fairness.
Rational thought, empirical evidence doesn’t seem to play a very large role in the conversations I’ve been hearing. Part of me wants to crawl into a dark padded room and assume a fetal position and rock back and forth while playing the above tune in my head. “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony.”
Newsflash: I’ll gravitate toward what I want to be true based on my personal experience, my family history, my education level, and which part of my brain takes the lead because it feels right. Feelings don’t make it right. They just make it real to me.
I can’t speak for the country, for what is true for the majority of Americans. I am not in a position of power or inside knowledge. I have access to what I am told, to what I hear and then I pick what feels best for me because I don’t really know. This isn’t easy to admit. Recently, I read some political statements and instantly start feeling angry inside. I am surprised. I’m not usually this invested in politics. Yet, I feel genuine anger when I hear someone say or support something I believe is inaccurate. Why?
Fear. I’m afraid the dummies are going to take over the world. Irrational? You bet. I’m pretty sure this happened years ago.
Fear: is the enemy we need to fear most. Panic or fear rarely leads to good decision making. Fear knows no political boundaries. Fear can infect any one. Are we really that different from each other? Don’t the vast majority of Americans want a secure life, enough income to meet our bills and to enjoy a few things. We want meaningful work. We want to feel pride in our country, in our families, in ourselves. We want a safer world. We don’t want to feel afraid but we do. Instead of owning our fear, we point fingers at the other guys and lay the blame for the sad state of the country into some distant politicians’ hands. Is that where it really lies?
There is no question that it is easier to blame someone or something for all that’s wrong in the world without taking any responsibility to change it. We seem to think that we are exercising our responsibility by voting for the “best” candidate and talking trash about the opposer as if that really fulfills our obligation. It’s so much easier to believe what we are told by the people we want to be right without ever really doing anything to find out if that is really true. We’re afraid.
But, what if we weren’t? What if we stopped blaming Washington or Democrats or Left wing or Right Wing for what is wrong? What if we started applying more rational thought to all areas of our lives? What if we insisted on more accountability, more solid accurate information from everyone? What if in putting fear aside we could see that it isn’t our differences that separate us? What if we could see that fear has gotten in the way of seeing how similar we really are? What if we put a greater faith in goodness, in God, in history, in the increase in social consciousness and paid less attention to the potential evil we imagine everywhere? Evil, no matter it’s guise, does not need any more attention. Enough is enough.
I’m tired of my fear. I’m tired of feeling betrayed when I see a friend support someone I do not. Silly isn’t it?
This fear of distant politics needs a careful look. If the person I oppose ends up elected, how will that directly affect me? If government condones a program that I oppose and uses some of my tax dollars, does that really touch me? I’m paying taxes anyway. Why do I make it personal? What do I fear: Less for me? Danger? Injustice? Am I going to be arrested and thrown in a gulag? I actually hear people say things like this. Really? I think we’ve got a lot more to fear from our ignorance than from any politician.
Maybe that is how fear motivates the insanity. We relinquish our intellect in hopes of having some one else take care of us, of business, of the country. We place faith in men and institutions outside us because we don’t want the burden of responsibility. We want our vote to do our duty for us. We desperately want to believe because it gives us less to do, less to question, less to analyze.
We hate uncertainty, at least I know I do. I want there to be a simple right way. I want to trust someone else to fix the mess, to establish greater equity, to take the sting out of some of the injustices that exist all around me. I want the problems to be outside of me. I want fairy godmothers to fix it all.
This desire isn’t bad in itself. It just doesn’t let me really grow up and face the fact that answers in real life aren’t always found. Some of the answers are complicated. Some answers benefit some and hurt others. How do I decide what’s best knowing that someone will lose? Some one who is probably not that different from me.
I put blinders on. I disregard the “crazy” talk from the other side because I’m convinced I have it figured out. I really don’t. When I open my mind to take in more information, my head spins. I’m left with the feeling that politics is really a crazy game and I don’t want to play any more. Then I remember how much the world needs saner people and I can’t stand on that hill top dreamily singing “I’d like to teach the world to sing” and expect the problems to go away.
In order to teach the world to sing, I actually have to go out into it and do something. So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m writing about politics without saying anything. There is irony here. There is also an appeal. Stop the madness, the arguing, the nasty mud slinging. We’re behaving badly. This isn’t a basis for making good choices. Look for similarities. Take in the truth no matter who speaks it. Listen and think about what is being said. Think more about what isn’t said. Stay engaged with life and stop blaming some thing in the distance for all the country’s problems. There is a better way. Find it.