I have had these thoughts running through my mind for the last several months, but it's taken an event like the "government shutdown" to inspire me to write about it.
I am not a politician or a political expert. I'm only writing on things I have observed that some might see as unrelated, but I believe them to be part of the same problem.
I am frustrated with the government as much as anyone and I hold them responsible for what's happening in their stewardship. However, it isn't surprising to me that this is happening because we, as Americans, have been doing the same thing.
Politicians are only a mirror image of the people that elect them.
When I hear people say things like, "Politicians are corrupt", "Politicians are idiots", or "Politicians (on either side of the aisle) are too stubborn and need to start working together", I wonder why others don't see that THEY ARE US!
Think about it. They are elected by US! The reason they're in office is because we felt they represented our viewpoints best. And typically, politicians are elected from among ourselves. They weren't bred as a separate species of the human race. They aren't any better, or worse, than any of us.
In fact, if you believe that they are the best from among ourselves, we should be more seriously concerned about where we are headed as a society.
"It's not my fault. They are the problem."
Ever heard politicians say this before? How many times have you heard others not take responsibility and blame you for something? Have you said it yourself? Did you ever say, "I wish someone would do something about this?"
When are WE going to do something about it?
When are we going to take responsibility for our own decisions too, or will we continue to complain and moan like Jim Carrey's character in "Liar, Liar" when his car got towed and honestly admitted he wasn't going to do anything about it.
"Why can't they come to an agreement?"
If you have ever been on Facebook, you should know the answer. Look at how people respond to others' opinions on social media. (In fact, how are you responding to mine right now?) It is a rare treat to see two people disagree on a subject, but walk away either finding common ground or "agreeing to disagree."
We have become so convinced our way or opinion is the only way it can be. "I'm right and you're wrong! If you disagree with me, let me unfriend you. That'll teach ya!" I'm not saying that everyone's opinion makes sense, but if you want to be listened to, try listening to others' opinions first.
A woman disagreed with me about whether we need health insurance. We both got a little fired up in our opinions based on our experiences.
However, in the end, we both agreed that we respected each other and our opinions, and acknowledged we had different experiences that shaped our viewpoints. The end! I didn't need to call her names, try to ruin her reputation, or argue until I turned blue in the face. I didn't have to call all of my friends and tell them how stupid or ignorant she was. But how often do we see others doing that to each other? I've seen more friendships and marriages ruined because we think if we are right. Is it possible that the others' point of view could be right? Do we really think we are the authority on every subject known to man?
The only way we can be right is to admit that we are often wrong! (My wife reminds me of this constantly)
By the way, if we call politicians dumb, and they are supposed to be the most qualified and smartest people to make these decisions for us, what are we saying about our intelligence?
Let me sum up the last several decades of politics in a few sentences...
We elect politicians and insist that everyone else is wrong.
Those politicians fail us.
We blame them and don't acknowledge our responsibility for putting them there.
We elect someone new hoping to get a different result.
How has that worked so far?
My proposed solution (that's only an opinion):
- Work on our own attitudes and morals by becoming the type of person we want to elect
- Encourage others, especially those in our families to take responsibility for our actions, stick to morals of love, integrity, and honesty, listen respectfully to others' opinions (especially when they differ from our own), and look for common ground.
- Take the time to elect individuals we feel exemplify those values, and even consider running for office ourselves. I would LOVE to vote for someone that follows these first two points!
This is only my opinion and subject to debate. I welcome it and respect you for having a different opinion. Who knows? I might even agree with you!