“Every dogma has its day” Anthony Burgess
I have been thinking about the notion of “scale” of late. So many people seem to think way above their actual involvement in the events occurring, whether in the companies they work for, the cities they live in or the national political scene. They get all wrapped up in activities and decisions they have zero privy to and allow it to clutter their world and drive their emotions. People get all stressed out and march around carrying signs. The impact this has on reality is approaching zero.
You still have to pay your own bills, buy your own groceries and raise your own children. If you fail to do those things you become a tiny insignificant part of a problem, but the big parts of the problem are yours and yours alone. The guy who doesn’t mow his lawn three blocks away has more impact on your life than who is elected or who those elected surround themselves with. You want to make your life better? Go pick up the trash in your neighborhood, take a meal to an elderly shut in, feed a stray dog.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of the current atmosphere is seeing people become violent, then blaming their violence on others. News flash…if you are violent, that’s on you. People are ultimately responsible for their own actions and for those who want to point the fingers at rhetoric, they are simply proclaiming that those perpetrating the violence are too weak minded for self-control. If that is the case, one has to wonder why anyone would ally themselves with ideas embraced by the weak minded.
This is not to say that those who have power in your country have no effect on your life, they do. Mainly because of bad ideas pushed to directly help some company, industry, organization or movement close to them. We are collateral damage, mainly because there is this bad idea that has been floating around, that governments, need to be accomplishing something...anything. We think, as a society, that doing something, getting some law passed, is superior to doing nothing. People go to the seats of government thinking that if they do something they will get to stay. Getting to stay is the main goal. There is untold access to money and power for those who get there and that has little or nothing to do with you. It is media driven. Mass marketing. There are no “truth in labeling” laws for politics.
Politics feeds on emotion. Emotion should never be confused with cognition. People should take great care to separate what they feel versus what they think. Humans are a species capable of rational and irrational thoughts and actions. The irrational is often mistaken for the rational because all this mass marketing pounds into us that the emotional things we believe, are based on reason and logic. Generally, that isn’t true. The vast majority of people of all political bents have emotional reactions at their core. For those who believe in their heart of hearts that the world will end or that the world is finally going to be great, I have bad news…it isn’t. The world you live in isn’t likely to change much based on the election, except for your temperament.
In this most recent national election in the United States, roughly half the country’s voters found joy and the other half looked on with horror. My reaction was one of amusement. I was amused by all the hand wringing on the part of those in charge of the mass marketing. For the first time, in a long time, they failed to sell their brand of soap. People in the inner circle of one group, preparing to reap the benefits of winning were faced with having to find someone besides the taxpayer to fund their lifestyles and the other group, equally surprised, breathed a sigh of relief knowing their lifestyles were suddenly fully funded. Those of us doing the funding…well, we were out the funds either way.
We didn’t turn away the candidate of the angels and we didn’t elect the devil. We didn’t elect Hitler either. Those who make such comparisons have a poor grasp on history. Post-World War I Germany was a far different place than post-Obama United States. Unfortunately, mass marketing works better when the target consumer has been dumbed down to the extent of our electorate. We will come to regret our neglect of history and civics but the regret won’t be national, it will be as individuals. We will spend too much time on anger and/or elation with little or nothing that actually helps us get through our day.
What is unfortunate, is that the failings of the current politicians will be blamed on the other side just as the failings of the last group of politicians were blamed on the other side. Meanwhile, centralized power will continue to be concentrated at the center and will continue to grow. Social media has become a pressure valve to let off steam. Those in power are grateful for it. We are looking at a pendulum gradually winding down as it swings in smaller and smaller arcs. When we should worry is when it stands still.
Phillip J Hubbell is a writer, project manager and job seeker living in the American Midwest.