Shel Silverstein is a brilliant author and artist whose words and pictures will be a staple in my children's lives. In his book, The Missing Piece, he writes of a creature in search of something missing within himself. Once he finds this piece, he discovers that his happiness was in the search, not in having what he wanted. The valuable lesson here is that if we are too satisfied or complete, there is not much need for interaction with the outside world. If we have all the answers, if there is nothing to learn, what's the point in living?
An election year is always going to cause nervousness among citizens because we all know how those we elect can make decisions that can likely trickle down to affect our daily lives. Some of us have experienced it in negative ways, some of us haven't been affected enough to be too concerned. This is the first election year where I'm not as concerned as I used to be, and my reason is because I know that the world's problems will not be resolved when our only choices are two very flawed parties with candidates more concerned with representing their party than the people. I have read a lot lately regarding many current heated political issues, and the comments on these articles are as educational as the articles themselves.
But the main discouragement for me came when I realized that the passionate ones are unfortunately the oblivious ones. I don't just mean oblivious of the facts, which is very common. I mean oblivious of the person. If someone has disagreed with me on what I believe about something, what I would like is for that person to ask me why. Ask me what my story is. Ask for the reason behind why I believe what you think is wrong. If you make it your goal to love me more than you love your ideals, you will be surprised to find your ideals make more sense. If you make the person your concern and put the issue aside, you will find understanding. You will understand the person, and when you discover their reasons and their values, you will understand yourself. And through that, you will understand the issue much better. There is no way to lose when you put people above politics. Because if you don't care about the people, than what are you fighting for?
Another discouragement is the pride among many in these discussions. I don't care how much you've read or how many people you've talked to, there is still something you don't know. Part of what it means to be human is to be limited. Limited in our understanding, our views, our sight, our knowledge. There is always something you will not get, because there is always someone whose mind doesn't work the way yours does. There is always someone who has experiences you will never have. There is always someone who will never be able to express their passions in a language you both understand. When you recognize that, you have no choice but to make concessions for others in their beliefs. You cannot argue what you do not know. But if you care more about the person than about being right, your relationships will be better, and what is your life if you have none of those?
Please remember above all else that while our political figures affect our lives, they are not the ones who will be bringing you meals when your loved ones have gone or when you've lost your job. I believe that what goes on in the government is worth our attention and our voices, but when what they do affects you, they are not the ones who will be there for you when you have to deal with it. It is your neighbors, your family, your coworkers, your friends.
I know there is much to learn and much in my current beliefs to cause concern among some, but I don't have everything figured out, and I don't ever intend to. But I will keep learning and I will keep asking questions and I will keep searching, and if I'm right, then that's just wonderful. If I'm wrong, I'll keep learning.