Wednesday, February 7, 2018

More Lincolns and less Trumps

There has always been contention and conflict in American politics. You need only watch Lincoln, Steven Spielberg's terrific movie from 2012, to see how the politicians of that time behaved toward each other, how they argued and fought with each other, and ultimately how making deals and utilizing their networks was what moved them toward consensus and solution. This was business as usual. Yes, the arguments were heated at times, feelings were hurt, and people didn't speak to each other. But they got over it and moved on. That doesn't seem to be happening now. If 2017 has taught us anything, it's that the behavior of the president and some congressmen is not business as usual. They seem to be in it for themselves, and to have forgotten about what's good for America. They want unquestioning loyalty to the president no matter how badly he behaves, and obedience to their whims and demands. We need better politicians, people who are truly interested in working to make society better for the people they represent, not for themselves. We need politicians who are not afraid to challenge the status quo, but who do so in a civilized manner, without crudely attacking others. Our job as non-politicians is to listen to what they have to say and to consider what it is they stand for and how they want to change America. Our job is to be actively engaged in protecting and caring for our society and our traditions, protecting what we stand for, protecting the values our country was founded on. Our job is not to be blindly loyal to any politician or dogma. Yes, America is my country and I am loyal to her, but I will object to all forms of abuse of power, whether nationally or internationally. Constructive criticism is also a part of being an actively-engaged citizen. Additionally, a civilized society respects quiet time, reflection and reasoning, and we need more politicians who appreciate these things. President Lincoln was a man who knew their value and who utilized them in his decision-making. We need more Lincolns and less Trumps.

The media cover every little thing that is said and done by politicians (among others), ad nauseum. I believe in the necessity of a free press. But I also believe in a citizen's right to privacy. It's not necessary to dissect every little thing about an individual. To dissect means to 'cut to pieces' and is usually done to a dead animal for scientific/medical purposes. Dissections of political figures are not necessary, at least not on a daily basis. The media dissect politicians and politics to a point where we cannot escape, no matter how hard we try. The constant unrelenting coverage is like a hungry animal that consumes us; the problem is is that it's never satisfied. Sometimes my reaction is to take a break from all the coverage, to seek silence and peace. Because silence and peace are what are needed to allow for reflection on the events of the world and how one might want to tackle them. It is ok to say that 'yes, I've had enough of the world's problems for one day', and to go for a long walk in nature. It's ok to want to start the day by feeding the birds, watching how they start their day. It's ok to start the day with a prayer of thanks for another day of life. It's ok to want to start the day with a peaceful soul. Because God knows that your half hour of reprieve won't last long. You will face spouses, friends, and colleagues who want nothing more than to discuss with you the latest political or world news: Trump, all the atrocities committed in the name of patriotism, why this, why that, the world is coming to an end, civilized society is coming to an end. My retort is that we need to seek refuge from the coming zombie apocalypse. That usually silences the fatalists. But who knows, that could be a relevant scenario in a few years--a genetically-engineered virus that spreads rapidly, infecting its victims and causing them to become 'anger zombies', similar to the zombies in the horror film '28 Days Later'.

This is what I don't want each day, at least when I first wake up. I don't want to start my day being bombarded with all of the bad news in the world. I want to say hello to the birds outside my kitchen window, to give them some food to start their day, to watch them for a few minutes. I want to make some coffee, putter around my kitchen in complete peace and quiet, ignoring the presence of the newspaper that will invade my day. I do read it, but I start with the comics, as they give me some fortitude to face the coming day. I need fortitude because our days are nothing short of frustrating and complicated. Bureaucracy, rules and regulations are the order of business. Our bosses and co-workers require our attention or interrupt us during the day with their concerns. Plans that have been discussed and agreed upon at multiple meetings are tossed aside in order to remake them in a new image. Our society is in constant upheaval, everywhere you turn. The seasons in nature do not change like this; the change is more orderly. Spring leads to summer leads to autumn. Autumn doesn't arrive and then suddenly decide that nature must return to July again. It would be a bizarre chain of events if such things happened in nature. But such bizarreness is almost the order of business now in the workplace and in politics.

I am looking for consistency and will never find it. I have accepted that now. I am looking for peace and quiet in a global society that has forgotten what peace and quiet are and why they are valuable for society. I am looking for manners, less aggression, more real feelings, more caring, more respect. I am looking for less egoism and more interest in the welfare of others. I wonder if we could all take a collective step backward and collectively breathe. Count to ten. Dig into our souls to find some patience, with ourselves and others. Be quiet. Be grateful. Stop forcing our ways of thinking down others' throats. Stop being aggressive. Stop being crude. Stop being Trump. For God's sake, start there.

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