So I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit (both in private and in public) lamenting certain national realities. Far too many of you have been subjected to these laments (or rants, or…insert verb). In truth I would love to talk with you all in an effort to get your position on these matters. My good friend Michael Denton was kind enough to call me last week, at which point we both shared views through our individual perspectives. My good friend Harrisan Beeman has often reminded me how important it is to stick to my values, which are grounded in the Thoreau-ian idea that nature and walking solve many an existential dilemma. My good friend Richard Williams has joined me in following the “the obstacle is the way” approach to things.
My wife has not left me. My daughter has not moved out. My son is in Utah, but I’ll trust that’s to climb and not to get away from his dad.
I spend a good deal of my time playing devil’s advocate, along with using what I hope is successful comedy/sarcasm/satire, for the sake of engaging others in conversation. This has helped expand topics, which in turn open all engaged to arguments not previously considered. For example, on The Bearded Paradox a few threads exist with respect to guns and gun control, and while opinions have been shared it is rare that I have shared a position.
So getting to the point of this…I am a strong believer in the process of checks and balances. Ever since I registered to vote (as a Republican) at the age of 18 the belief held was one which trusted the system simply because the system was self correcting through the absence of any authoritarian coercion. While only voting Republican once (maybe twice) since 1986 I’ve embraced the idea that votes are personal in that they reflect our personal desire for leadership, but only truly work as a collective entity. Links in a chain. A single link, well built, expresses it’s potential. Links in aggregate express their will.
We can reasonably loathe what appears to be our presidential options of the two big party institutions: Clinton and Trump. We can reasonably align with them, ignoring obvious flaws. We can opt to express our dissent by voting for a third party candidate (which recent data shows as more popular) or we may express our dissent by not voting at all. Thoreau states, “Voting for the right is doing nothing for it”, and within context of inactivity that makes perfect sense. A vote is an expression of desire, but one directly tied to the person acting. It serves nothing more than that. It’s no different than expressing a liking for organic food, but if you never purchase it what good is that opinion?
Going into detail as to why Clinton and Trump are unfit to serve is not relevant here. While I can appreciate why they have their supporters I have yet to read/hear/see a sound argument for either. What’s important for us to understand is that these people express a belief about the country, and a concern about its future state. While I may do a poor job of sharing my optimism I very strongly believe the dialogue we have through these two candidates will benefit our country, and hopefully the world as a whole. There are voices and faces to ideas that disgust us. We know what they believe, and why they believe it. It is at this point where we can create an enemy, or a friend. Where we share our ideas for what a civilized society, and world, looks like. Where the conversation ceases being at, and becomes with.
I’m not so naive as to believe civility is an absolute state. But where it’s in the majority there is hope. Aristotle noted, “..it is all wrong that a person who is going to be deemed worthy of the office should himself solicit it… for no one who is not ambitious would ask to hold office.” These people asking to be elected are participating in nothing more than a job interview. A popularity contest. We, as voters, have been given little with respect to their positional arguments. To say, “I believe in X’s platform” is a meaningless statement. But we, as those not seeking office, maintain such a higher degree of control. We can react to this present dilemma through not only voting, but also action, and it is in our action that we cease being dependent on leaders. It is in our action that we have direct contact with progress, as little as it may be, which reminds us that we have a degree of control over producing positive results.
Our leaders fail us because they collectively serve an oligarchy of special interests. We buy into this idea that through this relationship we have a level of financial comfort which gives us choice and safety. I would argue that it’s given us a mindset of confusion and apathy. Confusion about what happiness really is, and apathy towards working for it. In turn we see those as enemies which challenge that apathy. But we can change that. We can remember that there are others suffering and struggling, and that maybe the better choice for us is to suffer a bit for the better. And through this suffering we find it’s not suffering at all.
If you’ve come this far thank you for reading, and let’s work at inspiring each other to be better and bitch less.