I woke up feeling a lot of emotions today. It’s been like that for weeks. As I sat quietly in the safety of my particular grace, I felt something and it turned into an idea I wanted to share.
We find ourselves hoping for the right politician to be elected. We strive and argue and canvas for the possibility that someone other than ourselves will rise to a position of power. The hope is that they will reflect in their actions the will of our own hopes and dreams for a better world. When these politicians win we feel elated and satisfied and when they lose we fell hopeless and fearful of what may become of us. Collectively, this has everyone who agrees on certain political figures feeling either celebratory or dejected depending on whether the politician is elected or not.
What is really going on here? There is an inherent proposition in the American system of representative government. This proposition is the transfer of power to the representative. The power that is transferred is the hopes and dreams of the constituency. When the politician we choose is elected we feel affirmed and when the politician is not elected we feel rejected. Thus vast waves of emotions flow through our social structures in the election cycle.
Part of this creates a disconnection for us. The transfer of power is debilitating even when we have selected the winner. This is due to the way we react once the election is over. Once it is over, our representative is the one responsible for effecting change, or moral structure of society. We are absolved of our responsibility…. Or are we? When our politician loses the election, we feel a loss of power as well, but it is not true. The truth is that one of the core ideas of the American system is disempowering by design. This idea that representation is beneficial is at least outdated and perhaps just wrong-headed. The idea that after election day, we can breathe a sigh of relief and feel unburdened of our responsibility, is a seductive trap and the core of our feelings of powerlessness. Further, it is not true. We are not absolved of our duties to society, and we are not relieved of the moral pressure we feel in day to day life.
Ultimately this whole process leads us to believe in and participate in our own disempowerment. Our emotions at winning or losing are an illusion of powerfulness or powerlessness. The deeper truth is, we are still responsible for what happens next. In our day to day lives, we make decisions that are the place where the rubber meets the road in the unfolding of our social structures and experience.
It’s a lot of work to be a moral person and take responsibility for our outcomes. We are very easily sold a story that we can rely on our representatives to handle that for us. But it is a fallacy. There is evidence of this in small ways and in macro ways. For instance, a macro example is that the federal deficit continues to grow. There is no person on either side of the political divide that considers this a good thing, yet our representatives continue to allow it. On the micro-scale, we have more and more organic food and gluten-free options in the grocery store, yet there has never been any federal legislation passed commanding that these things be true.
The ultimate reality is that we as people have all the power we want all the time. The issue is, do we have the will and the fortitude to take action?
Are we willing to consciously own our responsibility 24/7? It is a lot to ask of us when Netflix and chill or social media is so much more fun. This is how representative government creates the illusion of powerlessness. We think we can assign our duty to someone else and let off the pressure. This is also why our emotions run so high in the election season because we are looking to make a good choice, so we can return to the less responsible and more relaxed state of our lifestyle.
But, modern times are making that less and less reasonable as we become more and more aware of the ramifications of being passive and letting others represent our will to action. It is harder and harder to believe our lazy self that wants to point the finger at the government or the other party winning and blame them for the decay and de-evolution of our social structures and environment. The truth is, we do have the power day in day out. Further, it is infinitely more powerful than the government. Have you noticed the signs on public bathrooms lately, the number of electric cars, hybrids, and Yoga studios?
So, whether you are sad or happy about who is winning nominations, remember that you still have your sovereignty and discernment in every moment. Make your choices count every day and take back your power from the media culture that wants to sell you a story about your powerlessness, and the fear that goes with shaping your choices. For the most part, they are just trying to make money off your desire to escape the effort of having to take action according to your moral will. But the truth remains that when we all make powerful choices every day the world changes. No one can take those powers away from you unless you buy into their story. I have decided to use my power to make my choices from the power of love and leave out the choices that come with living in fear.
So far so good, but every day I wake up and realize I have a lot of work to do cleaning up some pretty big messes, and I could use your help.