"When you were born you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice." ~ Cherokee

In a Society on Edge it’s Time for Perspective

“It’s always darkest before the dawn… It’s always darkest before the end too!” 

A Dark Time

I heard Ted Turner deliver those lines once, and they always make me smile. It’s also a healthy dose of perspective in a hyper-political time where society is on edge. 

We enter 2017 unsettled as a society. And it’s making people feel beyond anxious. There is a palpable sense of fear for many people. For many others, there is a feeling of conquest. Ideology and judgment have taken over civil discourse.  Respect, listening, and learning have been replaced by, “I’m right. You’re wrong. Now shut up.” 

We are not at the beginning or near the end of anything. The recent election will not hasten the end of time nor ignite a renaissance. 

Rejection of the Status Quo 

The election of Hillary Clinton would have been more of the same. Of course, we cannot afford more of the same. The vast majority of Americans are not in a good place. The election of Donald Trump is the result of a good portion of that majority simply having enough of the elitist status quo -on both sides of a broken two-party political system.

If this were all that resulted from this election, it would have been dramatic but tolerable. Instead, it has unleashed vocal positions on ideology and judgment.  

Unfortunately, as I mused in an earlier blog, the long-standing two-party system championed by so many people is already obsolete. Therefore, can we please stop arguing? You are not going to change anyone’s mind. We aren’t advancing a thing by constantly stating the obvious, engaging in the same argument over it, and calling each other stupid. 

Which leaves us with the bigger challenge. Who are we? As my yoga teacher said this morning, the election has revealed people’s true feelings. And that’s okay.  He remarked that if you believe there is a superior race, gender, or sexuality, then play that out in the open and see how it works. Be who you want to be in society, uncloaked, out, and proud, and see how those edges feel. Most importantly, let’s see how it works out for society. I agree that it is refreshing and important that we can drop all pretense. Let’s find out who we are. What is the American ideal? Who are we?

Everyone Must Win in Society

If you believe all socialism is evil, then argue strongly against any of it, not just what you don’t want or need. For example, you should reject Medicare, Social Security, public works projects, universal health care, roads, education, police, and the military. There are dozens and dozens of American socialism programs.  

However, if you believe, as I do, in a hand-up and in public policy that elevates everyone to a position where they can dream, work, succeed, and have rights as equal as the next person, then argue for a fair allotment of resources so that we all win. If this election was about taxes for you, pay particular attention to whether a change actually works. Accordingly, measure whether it increases productivity, jobs, and prosperity. And not just for you. We are all in this together. A broken healthcare system, unemployment, poverty, and crime cost all of us.  No sense in polishing the stateroom of the Titanic. If we do not succeed as a society, we all fail. 

Ultimately I believe the majority of the American people will meet in the center, realizing the Left Right political gaming of society is a massive failure and that, collectively, we can create something that works.

We Must Lead

I would assume just about everybody ignores the type of person who was elected. If you believe in him now, it must be in support of his policy positions, not his character or integrity or obvious lack thereof. He has undoubtedly shown vindictiveness, volatility, and a shallowness marked by a near-total lack of intellectual or policy curiosity that is bewildering and could prove dangerous domestically and internationally in a complex and unsettled time. But he also has energized just about everyone to take a stand, come out with their true and honest beliefs, and engage. And that is a very good thing.      

It is up to each of us to lead. To lead, we must have integrity. For this reason, insist on facts. Speak your honesty, supported by truth.  Next, hold every elected official and the media to the highest standard of accountability. From here on, hold everyone to their words and their promises. Measure how any policy changes work for you and society. 

All things considered, we should be grateful that this election has awakened a passion to be engaged. No matter what you believe, be an activist, engage in the process, and argue passionately for what you believe works for all of us. 

Whether it feels dark or light, it’s time to become passionately active and work tirelessly for what you believe in and our children’s future. 

If not now, when?