Giving Up Politics? Switching to What’s Important

October 1, 2016  -Steve Hays


It’s hard to escape politics, though the inclination to do that appears stronger than ever these days.

Who would have thought that we would literally end up with a he said—she said—no I didn’t—yes you did—I didn’t mean that—did too—yes but you did it first—no I didn’t—yes you did “political debate.”

If you’ve ever been in a relationship you may have had a conversation similar to that. If not, you may want to write a column for us. Clearly, there is no way to prepare for or to win those kinds of conversations.

Who could have predicted that the media could be so easily distracted and spend so much time rehashing it and looking up who did say what when and say how and why they said it?

That’s what they teach in journalism school—it’s about who, what, when, where, why and how. I remember that part. Some are noticing the missing element is, is it important? Or just what someone said?

It is entertaining, in a way. Funny to some and irritating to others, but petty enough to want to give it all up.

We’ve devoted a lot of pages over the years here on exploring what’s important in life and ways to empower ourselves. An important part of that is knowing we have a say in how life turns out and are not simply victims of an externally imposed reality. We ultimately are responsible for creating satisfaction and happiness in our lives whether we are rich or poor.

As consequential and scary as this election might be, our happiness is still an inside job and our way of living is one the biggest determinants of our health.

That’s essential, but increasingly we can see there’s more to it. We know that the community we live in, the social and physical environment, the work conditions and opportunities, our education and coping skills that come from it—as well as our personal choices and commitment—all play a part.

What I hear from people is that it’s not as important anymore what company or individual makes the most money or best deal for themselves. What’s becoming more important is how what you do affects others.

Younger people are not as interested in having a great—hot or cool—car as my generation was. Having reliable transportation available is what’s important.

It’s no surprise that a lot of people have come to the idea that what’s truly important is our common resources—our water, air, food supply and even electricity and transportation. Eliminate any of those resources and we can suffer or die. They are common concerns and shared resources.

Those are what we want governed, isn’t it? That’s where we want a say. That’s what has an effect on us/US all. Shouldn’t the focus be on controlling the common resources, not the common man?

Unfortunately, concerning ourselves with those issues brings us back to politics and governing—just not as portrayed in the media or practiced by politicians on camera in sound-bites.

What’s important? Is this?

UNEP News Centre states that “worldwide extraction of materials triples in four decades, intensifying climate change and air pollution.” tells us that Glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup and sold by Monsanto, was approved by the EPA but the International Agency for Research on Cancer isn’t so sure. Hearings are being held in October.

Isn’t it more healthful to hear about that than hearing about birther theories or missing emails? Some people like it, of course, when we get distracted or don’t notice.

Bayer, commonly known for making products that make us feel better, wants to buy out Monsanto, more commonly thought of as a company that protects crops while making people sick.

Do you suppose their purpose is to eliminate all the products that Monsanto makes that might make us sick, so they don’t have to work so hard at creating remedies that make us better after using their other products that make us sick?

Strange combination. Kind of like producing both cigarettes and products to curb cigarette addiction at the same time, isn’t it?

At least we know their focus is on making people well and not bottom-line profits. Or maybe someone should be talking about that.

Isn’t our health a common resource that only people—not institutional for-profit entities—can honestly safeguard? Isn’t that what government should be watching?

We need only to look at the numerous examples of price gauging on prescription drugs—and prescribing unneeded, addictive opiates—to know that some companies and CEOs care about profits more than people.

Who knows exactly what Bayer will do, but it seems like an odd pairing.

It’s time to admit, isn’t it, that there was one thing that the Founding Fathers didn’t fully take into account. Some did warn of large banks and corporations, but they didn’t really see how much influence one individual or a business with a lot of money could have on the political process.

They didn’t talk about what might happen if someone had more money than some countries in the world. Is it consistent with the idea of a representative democracy—a republic—if our system benefits only those with money? With anonymous political contributions we don’t even know what individuals or countries are buying influence in our government.

After listening to the lies, anger and hostilities of today’s election process, many of just want it to be over or to turn it off. Let somebody else handle it.

To do that is actually worse and more embarrassing. According to Plato, “The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” Feels like we’re there/here.

As much as we may want to ignore it, choosing one’s political system is not like deciding whether to ride in a car or ride the trolley. We have one and we’re going for a ride! It’s ours.

Whether we accept it or not, our Founders gave us the path and it’s a diverse, layered system bigger than any one individual can change. That was part of their plan. It was a protection from a would-be monarch.

It’s good that the system is designed so one person can’t easily take control, but it also means that you have to clean up the whole House—and the Senate—to change things. It’s a total remodel, not up to one “hero” in one election cycle.

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