Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Things that matter

In this election season, like the last one, and the one before that, I hear people on both sides talking as if the most important thing in determining the outcome of their lives is who gets elected President of the United States. How many times now has it been declared that 1988 or 1992 or 2000 or 2008 or 2016 is "the most important election of our lives" because if the wrong choice is made this country will never be the same?

Well... this country will never be the same as it is right now in a few years regardless of who wins the election. That's how history works with complex organisms like large nations. We are terrible at predicting what it is that creates those changes, too-- there will be surprises and that is inevitable because so many things come together to shape our collective society. Politics and the government that results is just one of those factors, and often an insignificant one.

More importantly, the decisions we make about what to do with our own lives will almost always be more significant to our individual outcomes than anything a president does. The vocation you choose, the relationships you nurture, even the car you buy are probably going to matter more than what President Trump/Clinton does. Even a war doesn't directly affect many Americans other than service members and their families. If you don't believe me about that, talk to a veteran about what it is like to come home from an overseas deployment to find that everyone back here had pretty much forgotten about what was going on in Afghanistan or Iraq and went about their business.

I know several people who are remarkably talented in their field, but at the moment are unable to converse for long without reverting to obsessive and often apocalyptic diatribes about the presidential election. Meanwhile, the beauty and eloquence of the complicated and exquisite life they live out otherwise is shoved roughly beneath the ugliness of politics that gets slopped over the top of everything.

My state once elected Jesse Ventura as governor. He was a pro wrestler before that. You know what happened? Well... pretty much what always happens. Some people got married, and it was a stunning, wonderful moment. Others suffered with a loved one who was dying. Some took a new job that either brought fulfillment or misery. Not much had to do with Jesse Ventura.

Much as we would often like to believe that someone else is primarily responsible for our success or failure, that is rarely true. 

So... take a breath. I will too. And then let's all make good choices about those things we actually control. Politics matters, but not as much as we seem to think.

What an eloquent point on things that matter and a call to focus on the things we can control (such as going out to vote). So I’ll take your advice and take a breath. But why do I have this nagging fear I may have to hold it for four years.
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