Voting is Not Enough

Dear Friend and Reader:

Today is Election Day in the United States, long-awaited, anticipated and the focus of much anxiety. Today is the day to brave voting lines, interrupt your schedule, miss hours or a day of work, all to do what may seem futile.

We have a lot of problems in the world and as a country; as individuals we have plenty on our hands. Voting may seem like a small gesture — and it is.

Obama for New York headquarters in uptown Kingston. This small local office was the organizing base for a vast swath of the state, out to Ithaca and up to the Canadian border. Photo by Eric.

If you recognize that, and see it in perspective, it will be more meaningful. InĀ last week’s edition, I explained the presidency through the experience of John F. Kennedy. It’s similar to what my Grandpa Sam Francis explained to me as a kid — the president is a figurehead position.

Yet it carries considerable power even as such — and your participation is more than symbolic. In fact your involvement is has influence on many levels, including locally and on the statewide level. Before you vote, take a quick look if there are any referenda on the ballot — some of the most significant issues are decided by the voters in many states.

It’s true that we’re seeing a broken system at work, one that was designed to keep the people as far from the electoral process as possible, and that has been fractured intentionally, and neglected, and abused. We’re about to see the extent of the problems.

We have the choice between two primary candidates who should disgust anyone with a shred of sense or sensitivity. One of them is in bed with Monsanto, imprisons people who distribute medical marijuana and signed the NDAA into law, turning the domestic United States into a battlefield in the War on Terror. The other is a mentally unhinged pathological liar and chronic tax evader who seems to have no values whatsoever, and who wants to buy the presidency and turn the United States into a religion-based country where women have no rights to control their own bodies, or their paychecks.

Yep, we have a few problems on our hands; many of the world’s most important issues were never even mentioned at the debates, much less discussed openly. Incredibly, you have to listen carefully to hear any indignation over this, when really there should be a thunderous roar. To commit even to the viewpoint you may already have requires acknowledging the depth of the problem and what seems like an impossible situation — and as Sting once said, there’s no political solution to a troubled evolution.

Politics is not the solution, but it’s a step on the way to adult awareness, part of which is civic awareness. I think it’s only marginally possible to participate in evolution — your own, and that of the planet, which are the same thing — and not in some way participate in the civic process.

Volunteer for Julian.

We need to do a lot else, as pertains to that level of reality — such as stop looking for the father we never had in the guy we think we want to be president. We need to hear political rhetoric for what it is. We each need to learn one or two of the important issues thoroughly, and get familiar with a diversity of others.

That means tapping into many sources, and sorting out the truth. I know most people are as likely to do that as they are to study the plumbing in their basement and figure out how it really works — but now is that broken pipe late on Saturday night moment.

This will take time, and it’s inconvenient, and I know that many people — particularly a significant portion of my readers — are what I call news averse. The [mainstream] news is designed to be aversive, frustrating and to skirt the real issues. This is true in a time when we seem to be facing a totally hopeless situation, and cannot even define the problems much less the solutions

You can say you want a better, fairer society, and you want the right thing to happen, though it’s not so convincing if you habitually withdraw your awareness. Being aware of current events is not enough; voting is not enough; volunteering is not enough.

Calling ourselves fully present, and participating in the ways we feel called by duty, conscience or creativity, is going in the right direction. I believe that politics starts at home, in our families, extending to our communities and into the companies where we work. The most intimate relationships have a political level, where people figure out how to share power. We can make choices and create new realities in these places, and then from experiencing that we can find the ways we have influence in the wider world.

Today is the day that most Americans get to vote in a public election. It’s our day to make that little investment, to sort out who really is the lesser of two evils, and know that less evil is better than more. It’s important to look at the actual accomplishments (as well as the flaws) with the candidates; size up party agendas; understand the tactics that are being used by each of those parties; and tune in to what’s coming through between the seemingly clever lines and flashy pictures.

As I quoted Pres. Dwight David Eisenhower as saying, “Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.”

Yes, and bring along everything you’ve ever learned from every workshop, self-help book, therapy session, ritual, ceremony, healing session and experience of personal transformation.

It’s time. It is time — now.

Yours, lovingly,

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