I’ve got news for you all, especially the political revolutionaries. This will likely be a post that will upset a good many of you. I hope, though, that you will be open-minded enough to at least consider what it is I have to say because it is VERY important.
What I’m writing about is the idea that many- myself included- have entertained as they’ve become more and more aware of the systemic injustices in which we live. The idea is very rarely expressed clearly- usually it’s wrapped up in mountains of rhetoric and abstract language that obfuscates the core of the argument. We talk about oligarchy. We talk about the rigged economy. We talk about political corruption. We talk about corporatization of America. We talk about all these things as if they are the problem. In pointing our fingers at all the governing systems in America we’re essentially saying, “It’s not my fault people are suffering, it’s the politicians who have screwed everything up, so they should be the ones to fix it.”
If you feel that way, I have bad news for you. It is your fault. It’s my fault. It’s everyone’s fault.
It’s easy to call out the most powerful people in the world: “You wrote the law, so you’re responsible.” Yes, this is true. “You put out the war order, so you’re responsible.” This is true too. But they’re also obvious. Perhaps we should consider what is also true.
We’ve created and maintained a political system in which we expect a small group of people to make the right decision for everyone. Consider the president. One guy is in charge of protecting all of the American people- all 300,000,000 of us? A Congress of 535 people is expected to make all the laws to benefit everyone in America?
If this isn’t bad enough, most people don’t even engage in politics. Many people don’t vote because, “it’s all bullshit anyways.” So not only is this handful of people expected to do right by all of us, but we don’t even participate! How the hell are they supposed to know what to do or not to do? We don’t vote, we don’t give them feedback, we don’t give them advice. A large portion of us give them only a couple things- rage and blame.
Maybe we should practice a little thing called compassion. That’s a hard fucking job! Who among us knows what it’s like to wake up each day and know that 300,000,000 people are depending on us and scrutinizing our every move? That’s unimaginable pressure. No wonder every president ages a decade in 4 years.
They’re expected to solve not only national, but sometimes global issues with a stroke of a pen. At the same time they’re constantly being tempted with large sums of cash to sign one bill or another. Who among us knows what it’s like to be tempted by such things on a daily basis? Who among us has the right to judge someone for succumbing to something like that.
Given the near complete lack of gratitude or appreciation our politicians receive from us, it’s honestly a surprise that they do any good at all. Which, by the way, they do. Without them doing their jobs as well as they do, we wouldn’t have safe drinking water available nearly everywhere at all times. We wouldn’t be able to easily travel from place to place. We wouldn’t have immediately available resources to call upon when being robbed or while our house is burning down. We wouldn’t have access to reliable electrical sources.
Yes, we can all think of many examples in which the above systems have failed us: flint Michigan, police brutality, crumbling infrastructure, and the like. However, these systems have done a pretty stellar job considering how complex they are. The disaster in Flint Michigan is, of course, horrible. Many people were legitimately consuming poison unknowingly. Isn’t it just a bit strange, though, that we hold a handful of people completely responsible for all our safe drinking water and rarely thank them for it.
I’m not saying that our system is working. It’s rigged, it’s destroying our country and our planet. It’s exacerbating all the most pressing problems of our time. It’s encouraging all the wrong types of behaviors: competition, greediness, selfishness, and fear. However, the bottom line is that it’s the system that’s failing. The system is something that we’ve all created, and we all must fix.
People seem to think that political revolution simply consists of throwing certain people out of office and replacing them with other people. Most don’t consider, though, how politicians suffer from the system almost as much as those in poverty. They’re just as oppressed by their positions as the rest of us- perhaps even moreso.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as angry as the next guy. The corruption in politics is utterly unacceptable. Someone who passes a bill that screws over the working class because they got a big bribe demonstrates a weakness of character and a complete disregard of responsibility. These qualities, though, can be created or exacerbated by chronic stress and isolation- the precise things that politicians experience in spades.
It would take an iron will, boundless compassion, and unrelenting spirit not to succumb to corruption in such a place. One would have to be a near-saint to maintain integrity in that environment. I have enormous respect for Bernie Sanders for that reason and I aspire to be like him. That being said, I’m not. Most of us aren’t. I had 6 slices of pizza today for dinner. Cheese makes me sick- I knew this before I took my first bite. Despite this, I had 6 whole pieces and felt sick to my stomach in less than 20 minutes. Strangely, no one told me how awful of a person I am for giving into the temptation of that mouthwatering cheesy goodness. Though, if I made the same type of decision as a congressman, people would be sending me death threats in the mail.
The point I’m making is that it is not only the corrupt politicians who fallen short, it is all of us. We are all equally responsible for the oppressive system we live under. Let us not fight with one another, but work together to create a new system that works for all of us.
Let us not get bogged down with what has gone wrong in the past, but unite for a common vision of the future: a system of equality, justice, and peace. A future in which everyone is able to receive education, healthcare, and has the opportunity to succeed- a future in which every human life is honored. We will not get to that future by attacking politicians. Equality does not pick favorites- that’s the point of equality. Equality depends on compassion, dialog, cooperation, and understanding. It will take a lot of time and effort to create a new political system, but these four things can begin today.
What are we waiting for?