Thursday, November 04, 2010

election reflections

Like many people yesterday, I was in a state of shock, anger, and despair at the election results. Not that I had any particular affinity for the Democrats that were defeated, but that mean-spirited divisiveness had once again prevailed. I think that many people voted with emotion, whipped into a frenzy by rallies and slogans, instead of reason. And I fear that many average people—working class neighbors, churchgoers, men and women who gather in Main Street diners across the nation—were manipulated. The media industry told them they were dissatisfied, and since people have a tendency to want to identify with a group (the tribal mentality), they started feeling more and more dissatisfied. And sincethat media industry has taught us we no longer need to be civil in public discourse, hateful words flew like never before.

I admit to getting caught up in that negative energy at times, letting it consume my thoughts. Last night I vented my despair on Facebook, which is good for purposes like that. What followed were some very thoughtful comments that helped me to put things in perspective. I will repost them here:

John: Actually, no one having a clear majority for a while might be good. I'm hearing some Republicans admitting that they do not have a mandate. Maybe that whole, "listen to the people" thing might happen. Yeah right, beer me.

Robin: It always blows my mind that there are powerful people who think destroying the environment is an acceptable way to make money. Like they don't have to drink clean water or breathe clean air. Short-sighted lunatics.

Will: Note to Deb: the federal govt is a lost cause. Has been for awhile. Not that they wont cause trouble (er.. not be honest about real troubles). Concentrate on local, on social networks. sustainable agriculture & culture. permaculture. Read up on Sharon Astyk, Transition Town, Nicole Foss ("Stoneleigh"), etc & other wise souls. listen to nature, forests, wildlife. work for peace.

Will: (quoting Chunyi Lin)

Hello my friends! Take everything easy. Whatever will be, will be. Don't make your own judgment. As long as you know you are doing good things for people, no matter what other people may think or say about you, just continue with ...what you are doing. Then you will find peace in your mind. Then you will live a happy life.

Laura: Easy there, Deb. I've been really down this week; I know, despair is so tempting, but remember this: we who are tempted to despair, we who notice, we who care: we need each other.

Vicki: Well, I've been blue today, too, finding it hard to believe that arrogance and self-interest continues to rule. Then I remember what my grandmother always said: Pride goes before a fall. I believe it.

Today is a new day. Life is too short to get caught up in despair and helplessness. So I will stop spending my precious energy raging against what I cannot change. I will do what I can to make my small part of the world a better place. I will smile and say hello to strangers. I will attempt to understand and listen to someone I do not like. I will sing and dance. I will play the flute. I will plant a garden. I will do crazy, fun, spontaneous things with my kids. I will teach what I can. I will always be learning. I will practice compassion. And, as Wendell Berry says in Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front: I will laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. I will be joyful, though I have considered all the facts.

Edited to add: There were actually some good things that happened on the local level. Our county elected a new sheriff, who I believe will make much-needed improvements to local law enforcement. My district re-elected two state legislators, both whom I know personally and I think are outstanding people. And they both have family members in "Hello, Dolly!"

1 comment:

Jayne said...

It's the same sort of despair that led me to truly almost decide not to vote at all as I could not see what hill of beans difference it would make. As long as politics is a career, and money/lobbyist exist legally, the system will be corrupt and very little about what is best for the nation. But, as you said Deb, we can spend our precious energy being pissed off about it all, or we can live our lives with joy and do the best WE can. Hugs to you to someone who understands your feelings fully.