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Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Secret of Politics


Every four years I feel obliged to take a hard look at my country’s leaders and the issues that concern me and my fellow Americans. Also I try to keep informed at all times as to the direction and accomplishments of our major parties so that I can exercise my right to vote intelligently. The government of our country is the business of every citizen in this nation.

The election campaigns, however, have become loud and confrontational debates with many minds and voices competing for each vote. It often seems like we are wading through a war zone of words. The media doesn’t help when one side says something that the other refutes. Fact checkers often do the same. Whom are we to believe?

In the end it seems we all go by that “inner guide,” an often used term for what seems most reasonable to us. I try to skirt my own prejudices as much as I can but I have to admit that personalities often obscure issues. Verbal vitriol and facial grimaces, shouting and gesticulating often lose an argument. 

With most of us it boils down to which side most nearly reflects one's own core values and who are the candidates that win our trust. Good intentions must be accompanied by good records and those who are statesmen enough to share the glory of success and the blame for failure rank high with me. 

In elections we have to weigh issues carefully and not be swayed by mere fluency, charisma or poll numbers. Politics is not a sport. It's too serious for that. If we're not careful though it can become so serious it divides friends and family members. That's when we need to withhold discussion of the subject or learn to make that discussion impersonal.  

In all the confusion and discomfort of politics it is good to remember that we do have a say in our government and can exercise our convictions as far as we're willing to do that. I'm of the mind that prayer is a mighty force for good so long as we seek God's will above our own. Abraham Lincoln was once asked if he thought God was on his side and his response was something like this:"I pray not for God to be on my side but that He keep me on His side." When I feel myself getting anxious and angry I know it is time to get centered and on the side of God. I need to stop and be still for a while. Now that I've written this I am reminded of a poem by Robert Frost:

“We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.“


"Thy will be done" is a good way toward realizing that Good is done in heaven and I have only to play my part by letting it be done on earth in my own way as a grateful citizen of this unique nation.

2 comments:

  1. We've had Presidents like Obama, and Presidents like Romney but people forget who they were or what they did for the good or ill of the country. That's why we keep repeating our mistakes. The great composer Igor Stravinsky said: "I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge." And so it goes for America!

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  2. This almost sounds like a response to an essay I just wrote in response to a very urgent plea for voting in the 2012 election. :~)

    Though it is in my nature, it is still often distressing to me that the views I hold are not more widely held. But I'm a strange boy, so I suppose I shouldn't be overly concerned that my views are completely unique. After all, they do spring considerably from my own imagination.

    In a way, this moment is enlightening about what makes me different from other people. Under normal circumstances (good times) I think it entirely appropriate to be responsible in our voting choices, finding those to lead us who, as you say, are capable of compromise and being practical. BUT, I do not believe we are living under normal circumstances.

    I think, our current situation is, for the want of a better term, an illusion. It is seemingly appropriate, based upon statements made in the campaign, to believe that ideology ("Left," and "Right") are to blame for why things don't happen faster, to our liking. However, what is missing, is that these campaigns have ceased to be very well connected to how we are governed. Our parties win election based on these admittedly high-voltage debates we have, and then promptly go to Washington and fail to deliver on those promises. In my opinion, the entire Bush Administration was a repudiation of what Republicans believed under Ronald Reagan, at least domestically.

    Now partisanship IS a problem. When politicians vote against a good idea just because it's proposed by the other Party, that is wrong. Elections should be fought only at election times (which should be made shorter) and not interfere with governing.

    However when, as it currently seems, the country is in a systemic crisis of it's own making, then, perhaps once in every Lifetime, we must return to First Principles, remember where we came from, how it was our intention to live, forgive each other for the infractions of the Past (Slavery, Segregation), and return to the blue-print for prosperity that our Founders gave. Even if, as sometimes We must, put a new spin on it, and make it our own. My personality seems to be made for those times, for better or worse: Crises.

    And unlike many others who comment on politics for a living, I agree that most politicians, even now, enter politics with Goodwill and the Best of intentions, however I feel relatively free in stating that gone are the Days when politicians, "shared the glory of success and the blame for failure." (Reagan, the most conservative President of our Lifetime, was a Great example of just such a Statesman) Another sign that our party system is fatally flawed. Fatally.

    But, assuming we make the right choices, normal conditions will return, and compromise will again be the order of the day. And we'll know if we've made the right choice, because the crisis will have abated. I'm not an opponent of compromise as long as that compromise improves the situation.

    Finally, I agree wholeheartedly that God has a Central role in determining our Fate, though not the only role. Rather than the absentee landlord that many often view God as being, I often imagine God as our own Face in the mirror, the one looking back reminding us of all the quiet things He's whispered into our Ears. No anger, no lament, just a Face reminding us of what we have forgotten and could yet act upon.

    That face is different for each of us, but We All have One. And mine also says, "Stay Tuned," for November 6th. :~)

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