Why You Have to Sell Out to Be a Politician

It takes a certain someone to navigate a flawed system.

A successful politician cannot be honest. Honesty, you see, alienates as much as it includes. To get elected, you have to avoid alienating people as much as possible.

I could never get elected. Not in a million years. I am an extremely polarizing individual. People either love me or hate me. Mostly, it’s because I can’t keep my mouth shut. If I think something, I tend to say it.

For almost 6 years, I’ve put my opinions out there, every single day, on this blog. Anyone can read these posts and know exactly where I stand. The hate ads against me would be full of direct quotes from my blog, most likely taken out of context. I am the political third rail personified.

And that’s a shame, too, because I’d make a great public servant. I’ve got loads of integrity, I’m intelligent, and I’d be extremely committed to improving things whenever I detected a problem. I’d stick up for the underdogs, and I’d speak up for those who don’t have a voice. That’s the type of politicians we need, now more than ever. But people like me couldn’t serve if our lives depended upon it. We would never be invited into the clubhouse. We’d never be given the secret handshake.

I wish there was some way to separate the politics from the public service. I wish there was a way to make changes without selling your soul. I wish all our voices could somehow be equally heard and taken seriously. I wish there were a way to navigate the cesspool that is Washington DC without having to boil oneself in bleach every single day as a result.

I’m glad there are people out there who are willing to try. I just wish their motives were pure and their moral compasses were pointing them in the right direction. It takes a certain someone to navigate a flawed system. Honesty, unfortunately, is not the best policy under the current circumstances.

http _fc04.deviantart.net_fs8_i_2005_293_7_c_Human_an_Political_Development_by_brentwmc

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Malala Vs. Trump

I am always fascinated by that moment when two people interact. It’s like an intersection of fate. Each brings different things to the table; different life experience, different perspectives. In every encounter, it is almost as if another entity is briefly formed as a result of the mixing of two unique individuals.

If I could witness just one encounter, I would love to see Malala Yousafzai meet with Donald Trump. Talk about a study in contrasts. Malala is one of my personal heroes. She’s only 19, but she is still who I want to be when I grow up. She is intelligent, dignified, and a pure embodiment of what is good and decent in this world.

Trump, on the other hand… well, I think I’ve made my feelings crystal clear about him in past posts. A meeting of these two would be the closest one could get to good vs. evil outside of the movie theater. I’d be craving popcorn.

It would be a lot more enjoyable to have a ringside seat for this epic meeting if Trump had a conscience and a moral compass. If so, he’d probably turn into a pillar of salt. That would be enough to make me go on a low sodium diet.

At the very least, he wouldn’t be able to look Malala in the eye. This amazing young lady isn’t someone you can grab. She’s not someone you can discount, either. She has seen and done too much.

In fact, she has more life experience than Trump has ever had while sitting in his gilded tower, spewing his hatred and racism. Her biggest claim to fame isn’t some reality show. It’s real life.

Further, I don’t think Trump would be comfortable in the presence of Malala’s quiet dignity. Trump is neither quiet nor dignified. He’s all bluster and braggadocio. Malala would probably politely listen while he held forth about himself, but she wouldn’t be particularly impressed.

In contrast, every word Malala would speak would be about others. She would be talking about the importance of education to someone who is functionally illiterate. She’s also about truth and compassion, which are words that Trump can barely pronounce.

Malala is also a Muslim that Trump would be hard-pressed to turn into a caricature of violence. Her very existence counters his entire belief system. Malala could very well be the bucket of water that we throw on the witch that is Trump. He would melt away to nothing. He has no substance.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a conscience or a moral compass, so he’d probably say something condescending, dismiss her out of hand, cut the meeting short, and never realize he had just crossed paths with one of the most amazing people of our time.

I’ll leave you now with Malala Yousafzai’s statement on President Trump’s latest executive order on refugees:

“I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war. I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants — the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life.

I am heartbroken that Syrian refugee children, who have suffered through six years of war by no fault of their own, are singled-out for discrimination.

I am heartbroken for girls like my friend Zaynab, who fled wars in three countries — Somalia, Yemen and Egypt — before she was even 17. Two years ago she received a visa to come to the United States. She learned English, graduated high school and is now in college studying to be a human rights lawyer.

Zaynab was separated from her little sister when she fled unrest in Egypt. Today her hope of being reunited with her precious sister dims.

In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world, I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families.”

malala

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Honesty Takes Less Energy

Here’s a bit of honesty: I’m an inherently lazy person. I avoid wearing clothes that need ironing. I take great pains to dirty as few dishes as I can. I am an expert at consolidating all my errands into one trip. My energy is limited, so I try to use it wisely. It’s just how I roll.

The same goes for my mental energy. I don’t know where people find the strength to be disingenuous or manipulative. I’d find it entirely too stressful, and I’d have to spend a great deal of time trying to remember which lies I had told to whom.

Fake people really amaze me. It’s been my experience that one’s chickens always come home to roost sooner or later. At the end of the day, I want my chickens to be nice to me. There’s nothing worse than a pissed off chicken.

Reality shows fascinate me as well. Even with a camera present and thousands of people watching, some people just can’t seem to resist taking their moral compass and jumping up and down on it while wearing cleats. That seems a bit self-destructive to me. Just sayin’.

The sad thing about people like that is they assume that everyone else in the world is the same way. If you know someone who believes that everyone lies all the time, I’ll bet you my next paycheck that that person lies all the time. It must be exhausting to live in a world where you think everyone around you is as horrible as you are.

I can’t imagine that the average parent teaches his or her child to go to the dark side like that. Where does it come from? What’s the long term payoff? I don’t get it.

Pinocchio

Spiritual Purging

Apologies in advance if you’re reading this over breakfast, but have you ever felt so sick to your stomach that you just knew that the only way you were going to feel better was if you threw up and got it over with? Sometimes that toxic, acrid, roiling source of your misery just has to come out in order for you to move on. If your body needs to purge itself, there’s really no point in trying to resist.

Just so we’re clear, this is not a blog entry in support of bulimia. A physical need to vomit is entirely different from a psychological one. Having said that, though, there will be times in your life when you need to do a spiritual purge.

I crashed headlong into that need recently. I was subjected to such a profound level of injustice that I left the situation feeling as though I had been dragged behind a chuck wagon through a cactus patch. Naked. I felt so emotionally beaten down, bitter, cynical and hopeless that I was practically paralyzed into inactivity. While my inner child threw a tantrum, I just sat motionless, defeated and deflated, and shed more than one frustrated, furious tear.

What this boils down to is another form of grieving. I was grieving the loss (yet again) of any sense of justice and equity and decency in this world. I was grappling with the concept that some people operate without even a hint of a moral compass, and that ethics are only for those people who are sufficiently evolved to see their value.

I can practically hear my mother’s voice telling me that life isn’t fair. As true as that may be, it’s cold comfort in times like these. No, what I had to do was figure out a way to accept the fact that this monumental, steaming pile of bullsh** was to forever be part of my reality moving forward. If I didn’t accept that, I’d go mad. Worse yet, I’d be incapable of writing because I’d be eaten up by the sheer inequity of it all.

Fortunately, I have friends. Friends who will allow me to spiritually purge these toxic elements from my very soul. So what follows is a conversation, more of a verbal vomiting that, when all is said and done, made me feel much better.

Friend: “Have you ever considered how unhappy some part this man actually is?”

Me: “He’s a pathetic, sociopathic, tiny fraction of a man. He isn’t unhappy. Sociopaths have no feelings. He is entirely directed by the lizard part of his brain. He will lie, cheat, steal, and do it with a smile on his face. He has no moral compass or any sense of equity or compassion.”

Friend: “Okay….”

Me: “He is a waste of human flesh, a blight on humanity, and an embarrassment to the universe. I would have more respect for a blood-bloated tick that I had just pulled off my dog’s anus. How’s that for constructive anger?”

Friend: “That is actually good because I am a safe witness. Nice use of creative language…Got any more choice words that are vivid? Release it baby! It is blocking your other writing… And that ain’t cool.”

Me: “He’s the pus from the pimple of a diseased corpse. I wouldn’t give him a bucket of my spit if he were on fire. To say that he’s a cancer on society is an insult to cancer.”

Friend: “Keep it coming…”

Me: “His spirit smells worse than Roquefort cheese.”

Friend: “Get poetic baby…”

Me: “He climbed into the gene pool when the lifeguard was out to lunch. Somewhere there’s a village that has been deprived of its idiot. He is the slime at the bottom of the toxic waste dump that is his soul.

Friend: “Oh my…anything more?”

Me: “He has a face that frightens children. Okay, I’m laughing now. Damn you! And I have an idea for a blog.”

Hooo. That felt great. Thank God for friends. They are such a treasure.

charmander_by_silvergage

Good God, He’s at it Again.

Just when you think that Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty can’t wander any further out on the lunatic fringe, he does just that. This time he ranted not about homosexuals or AIDS or hippies (Are there enough hippies left to rant about? Apparently so.) but what he appears to consider the most evil creatures of all: atheists.

It seems that this silly, ignorant old man equates atheism with a lack of morality. As far as I can tell, his message boiled down to this: without a belief in a judging, Christian god, you cannot be afraid of consequences, and therefore can run wild and give in to your baser instincts.

But here’s what really gave me the willies about his speech: he showed the world exactly what his instincts would be, and even for someone as desensitized as little ol’ me, who is a true crime documentary addict, his scenario was chilling. I won’t go into detail about it. You can read it here if you’re so inclined. But suffice it to say that his violent, sadistic story would make the most diehard serial killer gasp. It takes a special kind of twisted imagination to come up with a plot like that. I wouldn’t want to run into this guy in a dark alley, just in case his god was off duty that day.

I’m not an atheist, but neither am I a Christian. I have never equated my moral compass with my spirituality. In fact, this recent study shows, and history bears it out, that religion doesn’t make people more moral.

I always strive to do the right thing, not because I fear going to hell, but because, well, it’s the right thing to do. I don’t behave decently out of fear. I behave decently because I’d like to think that others will do the same. Otherwise we could not have a functioning society. You can believe in the golden rule without believing that the bible is the voice of god.

If anything, I think that the more you are taught to question, the less dogmatic you are, the more moral you will be. If from birth you are force fed the concept that there is only one right way, and all other ways are wrong, it would be so much easier to stray from a path that you consider to be righteous, and once you’ve done that, once you decide that you’re a bad person, all bets are off. On the other hand, if you are taught to think for yourself, to consider your options, and to realize how your actions will impact those around you, you will be much more apt to care about the consequences of your behavior.

Yes, there is evil in this world. It spans across all religions and every philosophy. Some people are just sick, and I think Phil Robertson’s latest speech demonstrates that he’s one of those people. That’s all there is to it.

Phil Robertson

The Dark Side of Achievement

I’ve always been a huge success in the academic world. Top of my class. The envy of my peers. So everyone, including me, assumed I’d be a huge success in the real world as well. I’m fairly certain my mother believed I’d be the CEO of a fortune 500 company by the time I was 21. Yeah. Not so much.

I don’t know what little cog is missing inside my head, what chink appears in my armor, what mote there is in my eye, but there is a flaw somewhere in my system that has prevented me from taking the world by storm. Stormless, I am, despite the perpetual cloud above my head.

It’s not for lack of trying. I’ve made some monumental mistakes, and that takes effort. If even one of those attempts at life improvement had worked out, things would look very different. For a start I wouldn’t be sitting alone on a drawbridge at 4 in the morning, fighting sleep so as to remain employed. And yet here I am, keeping the waterway safe for the boating public and trying to keep my eyes from rolling up into my head.

I do have a roof that keeps the rain off of me, although it belongs to someone else, and to date I’ve managed to keep my two dogs in kibble, so I must be doing something right, but I have to say I’m rather disappointed with the lackluster state of my curriculum vitae. But there is something to be said for profound lethargy.

For example, all of my successful friends seem to have at least one divorce under their belts, and many of them are seeing their whimsically named home offices transformed back into bedrooms for their adult children. I can’t imagine a worse hell than that, frankly.

And you’d think I’d have more stress-related illness living hand to mouth as I do, but in reality most of my successful friends are in much worse shape than I am. Apparently fighting to keep up with coworkers in their unrelenting pursuit of corporate greed seems to take its toll. High finance isn’t for sissies.

Other items to my credit: I’ve never foreclosed on someone’s home or been foreclosed upon. I’ve never looked into an employee’s eyes and boldly lied about their future. I’ve never misappropriated funds, and I’ve never hidden funds to get out of paying my fair share of taxes. Having never climbed very high, I haven’t had to step on someone else to do so.

I think that the more successful you become, the more likely it is that you’ve had to do something shady to get there. It may have been an incremental shift in your perspective until one day you woke up in the land of deceit, but on some level you know that’s where you’ve come to reside. Congratulations.

On the other hand, I feel as though I’ve gotten through life with my integrity intact. Perhaps it’s my moral compass that weighs me down. If so, I’ll gladly bear that burden.

keeping someone down

Chaos: The New Normal?

A coworker of mine was describing a situation in which he and his brother were watching TV and they got into an argument which then escalated into a fist fight, and the police had to be called. Just a regular Tuesday night at Chez Coworker, apparently. I remember thinking, “Huh. My whole life, the police have never been called to my house. Am I normal, or is he?”

Someone else I know regularly shouts and makes intimidating gestures, causing tension, fear and anxiety in his household. He says that he’s of Mediterranean descent, so he can’t help it. That made me wonder about all the Italians and Greeks and Turks that I’ve passed on the street who have managed to behave themselves and act with courtesy and respect. Who’s the stereotype?

And then there’s the girl whose husband tried to choke her. But she’s still with him, because she loves him. I tried to imagine sleeping under the same roof with someone, even for one night, who had tried to kill me. I’m not getting any pictures.

Another story: this guy left his car keys on the counter and went to sleep. One of his relatives took the car without permission and got into an accident. The guy wakes up, sees the damage to the car, asks who was responsible, and no one admits to it. And they all (every one of them is an adult) still live with him. Oh no. Not me. Not even for a second. I’d have gathered them all in one room and said, “Either someone confesses and makes arrangements to pay for damages, or every single one of you is out on the street.”

Another woman racked up thousands of dollars in phone bills by calling her boyfriend who was in the military overseas. She was the only one in the house who even knew someone overseas, so there was no doubt who was responsible. Not only did she not pay the bills, but since the phone was in her parent’s name, their service got cut off, and they haven’t been able to have a house phone for years because of it. Not to mention the fact that their credit is ruined. It’s the great unspoken thing in the family, but apparently she has no remorse whatsoever. That same girl’s sister stole her own 10 year old child’s birthday money.

All of these things have me wondering, who is living a life outside the norm? Me, for being shocked by all of the above, or them? Are most of the people on the planet just animals with no moral compass whatsoever? Should the Jerry Springer Show be considered a documentary? And to think there are people out there who still refuse to believe we’re related to primates. Sheesh.

chimp

Hypocrisy 2.0

I’ve been caught up in a debate this week about hypocrites. It is my stance that just because someone is hypocritical does not mean you should necessarily discount their message and by association, every other thing that comes out of their mouth.

For example, if someone speaks out about animal rights and yet wears leather, does that mean that their animal rights message is wrong? Or If Al Gore’s carbon footprint is larger than it should be, does that mean that global climate change doesn’t exist? I know a scary number of people who believe this.

My opinion is that painting people and their opinions in either black or white, with absolutely no shades of grey, is actually rather simplistic and, frankly, childish. Black and white thinking limits your sources of knowledge and wisdom to a ridiculous degree. If only non-hypocrites should be entertained, then no one on this planet will be able to teach you anything or even render an opinion. After all, even Gandhi cheated on his wife. Does that mean we discount his philosophy of non-violence? Then who would Martin Luther King have modeled himself after? Ben Franklin treated his wife and son like crap, but he’s still my hero, and I still love the wit and wisdom of Poor Richard’s Almanac.

We’re all human. We all have flaws. But I also believe we all have things to teach, even if our only lesson happens to be, “Don’t be like me.”

The reason people of the past seemed so perfect to their contemporaries was that they weren’t speeding merrily along the information highway at the time. Nowadays it’s much easier to find the skeletons in people’s closets. In fact, many people delight in doing so. My theory is that because our skeletons are no longer hidden, and because some people seem hell-bent on discounting others entirely based on those very skeletons, we often feel as if we’re adrift without a moral compass or spiritual direction. I find this depressing.

Instead of discounting a message based on the messenger, or even worse, spending an inordinate amount of time trying to discredit the messenger, perhaps it would be wiser to focus our energy on the message, and form our opinions based on what we, the message receivers, discover. Then maybe life wouldn’t feel so out of our control.

Judging people as a whole should be reserved for elections and court cases. Life’s just too freakin’ short to do otherwise.

Fred Rogers Was My Father

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On the last day of 2012, I have a confession to make. I watched Mr. Rogers Neighborhood to an embarrassingly old age. It was my dirty little secret. I told no one. It was something for just the two of us. Every day I’d tune in to the only father figure I had. He would speak calmly to me when others would shout. He would encourage me when others were too tired to try. He would make me feel like I was okay when others made me feel like an outcast. Most importantly, he would make me feel secure at a time when my life was not the least bit safe. When he said that everyone had something different about them, something you could learn from, or that you could grow ideas in the garden of your mind, I believed him. To this day, I can say without reservation that Fred Rogers always had my best interests at heart. There are not too many people in this world who you can say that about.

If the man had run for president, he would have won. It says a lot about his wisdom that he never did so. But if he had held the highest office in the land, things would have been quite different. He’d have strode calmly and politely into congress and shamed them into stepping away from that fiscal cliff. He’d have given Washington a moral compass that is sorely lacking in this day and age. Maybe he would not have gotten the right and left to agree, but he certainly would have had them communicating respectfully and acting like the adults that they are supposed to be. He would have put a stop to the politics by fear that seems to be the rule of the day. And when tragedy strikes, as it sometimes will, he would be able to comfort the entire nation with his sincerity. One thing is for certain: If Fred Rogers were president, sweaters would come back in style.

Rest in peace, Mr. Rogers. When you passed away, millions of us lost the only father we ever knew.