Obama is right. In Milan this week, he stated this: “People have a tendency to blame politicians when things don’t work. But as I always tell people, you get the politicians you deserve. And if you don’t vote, and don’t pay attention, you’ll get the policies that don’t reflect your interest.” And again, he is ABSOLUTELY right. A majority of Americans have become complacent, distracted (HUGELY) and let’s be honest, ignorant.
I am not saying I myself am any exception. More times than I care to admit I have been reading the news (I’m old school) and deliberately have skipped well written, informative and TRUE articles only to read something that is gossip about some celebrities’ love life. And as a mother, also more times than not, I have given in to my childrens’ pleas to play on the computer instead of doing the reading they are assigned as homework, simply so I can have an hour of peace to lay on my bed, and read a fiction novel. Hey, it’s easy. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It’s non-confrontational. AND, it’s become a problem. Not just for me, but for much of the population. I have begun, since the election, to slowly (yes, slowly) scratch away at the surface of this problem for myself. Asking myself the questions that challenge my comfort, and security. Questions like, “Why don’t you want to read the newest article about cuts to education?” Evasive answer: Because I already know what it will say, so why get all bummed out about it? Honest answer: Because my kids go to public school, and I can see it already beginning to crumble, and I may get angry and actually DO.SOMETHING. And questions like: “Why did you let them play video games, instead of having them read and then report what they read, and how they interpreted it?” Evasive answer: Because I am exhausted, and they will catch up over the weekend. (they won’t.) Honest answer: “Because I am so frightened, and emotionally drained by what is happening, that I would rather escape than help my children learn how to deal with life, because I am not strong enough.” When I write this, I feel ashamed, and embarrassed. But there is also another feeling there-RELIEF. Relief of acknowledging the fear that has been cultivating, growing stronger being fed a constant diet of device distraction, false information, judgement, resentment, and comfort.
Thomas Kemper said “Acknowledgement of our weakness is the first step in repairing our loss.” I am finding this to be the ultimate truth. How many times in recent history (or even longer) have we seen people acknowledge a mistake, wrongdoing, or incorrect belief without being caught red-handed? For me, the answer would be zero. nil. none. zip. And this is not just people in the news, but even for people around me, in my community. Even me. My own kids have a hard time acknowledging and being honest when they are literally caught in the act. (They often throw each other under the bus to avoid consequences.) I have witnessed their peers with the same behavior. And from what I have observed from many other parents, taking responsibility for ones choices and actions, does not seem to be a priority for themselves or their kids. I am not shaming anyone, as many parents are busy working full time just to provide for their families, and can barely keep their heads above water, or they are attempting to shield kids from a harsh world that is moving WAY too fast. But, how has this been working for us? Where has it led us? What do we need to change? These are the questions to ask ourselves. As people, as Americans. (Not as Democrats or Republicans, but as citizens)
These questions will feel uncomfortable. They will tempt our conditioned complacency into surrender. But if we actually give honest answers, they will also provide tremendous relief. And with that relief will come problem solving from our creative minds. So yes, we DID get the politicians we deserved. (Even if we did not vote for them, because we were too busy ignoring those that felt ignored, oppressed, intimidated, and especially those who live in a constant environment of hate, darkness, and ignorance.) But the acknowledgment that those politicians are there now, and are doing their worst, and blame lies where it lies, (and some with us) in itself is empowering. Because you can’t solve a problem until you acknowledge it fully and take any and all responsibility for any part (even minuet) that is yours. Then, and only then, can you forgive yourself, fight a fair fight, and WIN.