I Took a Hiatus on Hating on the U.S. – How to Balance the Personal and Political?

For most of my life, up until very recently I, like all “decent” Americans, generally avoided involving myself in politics in any significant way.  Why?  Not because I didn’t care, but rather, because involvement in politics is generally seen by many Americans as pointless/futile and/or soul-corrupting.  I am not religious, but I have enough of a semblance of morality to have experienced this dark welling of hate and fury  when faced with the sordid banquet of American political life past and present.  It is so easy to drum up hate in oneself against others who are so immersed in fear that they are lashing out at anyone or thing that seems to threaten their identities or lifestyle.

For years, I kept up on the issues, but only selectively participated in large marches or demonstrations, or the signing of petitions.  I had a cynical and passive view of political life and action.  This was all before internet, started to open up the conversation and participation in politics.  I am not saying that the internet is a panacea, but it does challenge the media mogul monopolization of information.  And if anything I am a glutton for the closest version of truth that I can get.

As I saw the national political conversation expand beyond mind-numbing soundbites, I became intrigued as to the political possibilities of activism.  One thing that has always bothered me is this artificial divide between the personal and political in American life.  It was as if only the “experts” in political science, economics and law were qualified to weigh in on political matters.  Never mind that the linguistic root of politics is the latin polis – which means people, PEOPLE!  And while things were “good” in America, regular Americans were glad to shirk off their democratic responsibility to the experts.

But these days, we as Americans, don’t really have the luxury to “sit out” politics and still expect to – have clean water and air to breathe; have non-toxic food on our tables; have jobs; have a future free of life-sucking debt both personally and nationally; have affordable health care; have a planet; have our taxes go toward domestic economic stability rather than international military chaos.  And those who would wish that the American public remain in our political paralysis of apathy, ignorance and cynicism – are the very people who are the LEAST likely to govern well.

housedivided

We Americans, have let too many foxes sneak into the hen house, a.k.a.  too many scoundrels into congress.  And now that we have access to all the information we want to really see CLEARLY the type of craven characters these mostly men are … we really don’t have an excuse not to be pissed and demand better.   But the system, the system hangs us up every time, or most times.  So systems need to be changed, but they won’t be fixed or replaced – in this sinister status quo.

No one said this life was easy.  And the whole “fair” thing is a fairytale that was handed to us as toddlers to convince us to share our toys.  But those who control our government aren’t interested in fairness or sharing power.  And it is up to us, those who believe in an “ideal” of fairness and justice to wrangle back the power.

And this is where I come back to my earlier reticence in becoming politically active.  I have always been most attracted to non-violent movements, and have been fascinated by their success even when facing  military dominant aggression of the state.  And I believe ultimately, whatever revolutions will come in the future, for them to be truly successful, they NEED to transcend the brutal tools of violence.  We cannot work together in harmony, mend fences, exercise restraint, attempt forgiveness when we are all armed with metallic weapons rather than weapons of wisdom, practical action, and compassion.

A little over a month ago, I started questioning my written voice – as I have expressed it in this blog. Early on, I wanted to forcefully express my discontent, backing it up with media references to support my frustration, and also offer solutions, via petitions addressing the issues of each blog entry.  And while at times, perhaps my angry voice may have been amusing or cathartic for some – I started to wonder – Do I really want to continue to buy into the idea that my fellow Americans who take different political positions than I do are my enemies?

How politically expedient is that?

Don’t get me wrong – I still believe that one can be passionate about politics.  But is there a way that we as Americans start looking for common ground?  Seriously, the politicians would LOVE us to continue to scrabble around about divisive and personal issues such as gay marriage and abortion, rather than focusing upon our shared desire to be gainfully employed, well educated and well housed, among many other domestic issues.

But if I allow myself to BUY into the idea that Americans that are whipped up into a fear frenzy by insincere politicians are my enemies – how are we as a Nation ever going to move beyond this political impasse and start showing our government who is the REAL boss?  We the PEOPLE are … but only united with common purpose.  The politicians have been using the oldest trick in the book of “Divide and Conquer,” because divided we are less powerful than the corporations that bankroll their elections.

So … I have been taking a break … just considering … what sort of passionate dialogue do I engage in that allows me to connect rather than disconnect with fellow Americans. We are in this together, and being divided against each other is a luxury of animosity we can no longer afford.

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