Monday, November 19, 2012

Stretching the blog (and myself) in some new directions....

I have avoided discussion of politics and religion on here rather studiously, and very intently.  My blog is about personal growth and inner journeys...not about public policy or dogma.  However, after some reflection through the election season and a great deal of listening to all manner of comments (in personal conversations, over facebook, on the phone, a bit of TV, reading articles online), I have reached the conclusion that as an American citizen, political views certainly fall under the realm of personal growth.  Our political views are a reflection of ourselves.  What do we value?  What do we want?  Which values are most important, and which ones must take a backseat sometimes to a greater ideal?  These are not questions for the faint of heart.  When we speak of values and ideals, it is hard to separate one's spiritual life from their political ideas.  After all, so many of our values spring from our spiritual beliefs about the nature of the universe - and the nature of people.  Yet we have a system of laws that respects spiritual beliefs without being subject to any one person's interpretation of spiritual matters.  It is a fascinating interplay, and a tricky one to navigate.

You would think, that with the election season over, that this would be an inauspicious time to start all that now.

I beg to differ.  You see, now that we know who we have to work with at each level of our government, now is an excellent time to reflect on what we truly want to accomplish as a people - because who is in office really should not be that important, if they are truly doing their job of representing their constituents.  However, most people take their duties as a citizen seriously only once every two to four years, and think that by voting for the person that most closely resembles their current ideas, that they have given their opinion sufficiently.  The truth is that the reason we have such a disjunct between what our government does and what the constituents really want is a severe lack of communication coming from the constituents.  Once our representatives reach their state and national legislative offices, mostly they hear from special interest groups and lobbyists.  They are left to their own conjecture on what their people really want, and left listening to corporate and special interests lobbyists for years at a time before be conclusively give them our opinion on how they have done.  They do not know us, and we do not usually (really) know them either.  How can they represent people who they never hear from except on election day?  The answer is simple:  they don't.

Most often we do not trouble ourselves over our representatives when it isn't election season unless we hear about something that really angers us...then we send our representatives some form of angry letter telling them not to vote for something (or just venting at how angry we are at them for voting for something already that we don't like).

I suggest that we all take it upon ourselves to write positive, encouraging letters of introduction to our representatives.  In a polite, positive manner, write a letter informing your representative of your stance on the top three to five issues that most matter to you.  Explain and justify your position on each of those issues in your letter - why you support or oppose something matters.  After all, there are a lot of grey matters in the law, and those underlying reasons can help them navigate difficult decisions when they arise.  Some issues are just not as simple as "I don't support __________ under any circumstances".  Most issues, in fact, are not that simple.  So write a positive note and introduce yourself.  Give them your contact information and invite them to respond in case they seek clarification on your opinions - because sometimes they will.  Maybe if we, the citizens, open the lines of communication, then our government can begin to truly belong to us.  Then we can perhaps live up to being a nation "by the people, for the people".  Our representatives first duty is not to their party affiliation, but to their constituents.  We should gently remind them that they represent all of us, whether we voted for them or not, no matter what party they associate with.  They work for us, and we have a duty to inform them of what we'd like them to do on our behalf.  Regardless of where you fall on each issue, establishing clear, positive, and consistent communication with our elected officials is something we can all I agree on (I think).  I think we would all rather have them hearing more from their constituents rather than corporate lobbyists all day long.

You cannot get what you do not ask for.  Silence does not help them.

And if you are the praying type (regardless of religion), sending prayers for them to have wisdom in their decisions is helpful too.

In the coming days, I will be addressing - and challenging - my own political ideas.  The point is that none of our views should go unexamined, and that we should begin that examination within ourselves.  I am choosing to examine mine on a public forum, and that invites discussion.  It is my hope that through questioning, explaining, and justifying my own views, that you may look inward and begin that journey as well.  It is a voyage of self-discovery, of finding the deeper truths of what we value and why.  At the end of this little series within my blog, I will write my own letter to my representatives, in the hope that they will listen and respond.  You may agree with some of what I say, you may adamantly disagree to your last breath with all of it.  I will at times reference my spiritual beliefs where they intersect with my political ideas, as will be necessary to explain why I think or feel a particular way on certain issues.  But please, since my blog centers on the idea of personal growth, be respectful in how you write your comments.

Thanks for reading - and comments welcome!


  1. I find that also calling your congressional offices and talking to the workers there, and attending city or municipal meetings can be very informative and helpful when participating in the political processes.

    Participation can be a lot of things, working elections, attending meetings, attending a vote to see how it's done, making petitions and letters to be signed by groups of people...

    As an avid participant in politics all year every year it pains me to see so many people out of touch with what's going on, people who claim they participate but really only vote every 2 or 4 years but never do anything else to make a real difference effectively giving their voice over to the politicians they "voted" for, then complaining when what they want doesn't happen.

    My views on politics and politicians are constantly evolving, new experiences and information always - even if just a small bit - change your way of thinking.

    I look forward to hearing more about what you learn.

  2. So true that participation can take many forms! About a year ago I remember mildly complaining to someone that the only time I ever got anything from my representatives was when they wanted money (which they don't get from us) and our votes. I was playing with the Heart of Texas Concert Band at a city district representative's Saturday afternoon BBQ a few weeks ago - right before the election...and that event is what sparked this whole thought process. This particular politician was not up for re-election: he just threw a BBQ to get to know his constituents and get people to come on out. He staged the event right before the election because he knew people had politics on their minds already, and might actually make it a priority to show up. Smart guy. But it struck me that they don't have to be the ones that start those conversations. They are human beings, and we can - and should! - talk to them, in any way we feel comfortable and have the time to do so. Nevertheless, I would love to see more politicians have picnics like that one. Nothing brings people together like food! ;-)