Presidential elections are an exciting time in our country, this country of free speech and equal rights, when each one of us has a vote that counts exactly the same as every other persons vote. Regardless of age, gender, race, income and a myriad of other factors that differ among us, on election day (provided you go to the polls) your vote counts the same as my vote.
It’s also a time of change. Elections are our opportunity as a people to voice our opinion on how our current administration is doing, by either giving them (or their party) continued reign, or by ushering in a new regime. Either way, change is upon us, because elected officials listen very closely during election years and at least make attempts to speak the language of the voters.
There may well be a lot of things wrong with the system and with politics in general, but by and large (provided we exercise our rights), we direct our own future during these crucial times. So it’s important to be sure we make informed, intelligent, rational, *non-emotional* decisions during elections. Unfortunately, the trend I notice is that election times bring out the worst in us, incite arguments amongst friends, fights between otherwise clear-headed individuals, and the worst judgment and condemnation by individuals that we will see, before the next election rolls around.
I just want to offer a few of my thoughts on raising our awareness and maintaining the peace and civility that make us human:
- Every one of us is doing the best we can with the resources we have. We don’t all begin with the same resources and we don’t progress through life at the same speed and so understand that, what has shaped your perspective may not have entered another person’s awareness yet. Also, your perspective may lack all the evidence as well. None of us have all the same information, so keep an open mind to the possibility that you are not yet informed enough to make a sound decision.
- Fundamentally, we all want the same things. I’d wager few of us would deny that we strive for a better world for our children, for safety and harmony in our streets and in our schools, for understanding and acceptance of our own flaws and mistakes, for grace and forgiveness when we mess up, which we all inevitably do. So why are we so quick to judge others? I think it stems from number three.
- People often operate, or at least react, from a place of fear. People fear failure, success, being judged, being wrong, scarcity (this permeates many aspects of our lives – we all wish for abundance), uncertainty, etc. If we can “prove that we are right” then we offer ourselves momentary certainty. These things we fear are impossible to eliminate, so, rather than face them and risk encountering them, we try to protect ourselves by flinging accusations and ill will at others, which for a brief moment, helps us feel better about ourselves. This is generally followed by a terrible period of guilt for what we have done or said. We need to find a way to be comfortable in uncertainty.
- People respond in kind. If you want to ensure being judged, judge others. If you want to ensure your opinions and thoughts get ridiculed, offer the sentiments up first to someone else. But if you want to be accepted, loved and respected, try taking a deep breath before you respond or react to *anything*. Imagine if someone made a biting remark about a candidate you favor – you took a breath and said “Interesting, I hadn’t thought of it that way. Tell me more.” Can you see how the rest of the conversation would be markedly different?
- The candidates will only give us what we are willing to accept. As long as we perpetuate the mud-slinging on our individual levels, the candidates will continue to do so. What a beautiful thing it would be if we could have an election where every candidate stood on their own platform and “rowed their own boats.” Imagine Obama and McCain spending the next 2 months telling us only what they believed in, and outlining their own plans to make this country a better, safer, more healthy place for all citizens. Imagine if we didn’t have to spend time discerning the contrast between the negatives, but could focus on the best of what each candidate can offer us.
Yes, perhaps I live in my own Utopian mind, dreaming of and wishing for such a place. But perhaps, if each one of us took a breath and practiced a single extra moment of patience, kindness and understanding each day, we really could transform our country, overcome this negative energy, and slowly drive the restoration of this great nation, just by loving each other.