I am not a politician nor a political pundit, but I cannot avoid having some feelings, and hopefully some useful perspectives on yesterday’s election. I wrote a few weeks ago about the needed balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the community. As I have indicated in some recent posts, balance is not the same as compromise. Compromise means that I have to give up some of what I want so a “deal” becomes possible. Balance has more to do with health in the sense that healthy communities promote the health of the individuals within it and healthy individuals promote the health of the community.

Our political environment completely ignores the balance between those two perspectives and, instead, sets them against each other as adversaries. When the needs of the community and the needs of the individual are set against each other, neither can move towards health, so when one side “wins,” the relationship between them always loses – meaning they both lose. (See My October 6 post) While I might have my feelings about the results of this election, the sickness of the process is a much greater concern to me.

Our political system has degenerated to the point that winning the seat for the next term has become the only value. Lying in the service of winning has become the norm. And there is no shortage of victims from that particular evil. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that the payoff for so many people who win political office is increased riches for themselves (perhaps after leaving office). How does that serve the wider community??? I don’t see it.

Finally, recent judicial decisions allowing corporate money to have unlimited influence in the election arena has to rank among the most unjust decisions ever made. It used to be that thoughtful people could at least “Follow the money” to see the potential beneficiaries of particular political positions, but that is virtually impossible now. How can that ever serve the well being either of individuals or the community?

Instead of just ranting (which feels pretty good, by the way) I want to offer a challenge that we come up with some healthy sound-bites to counteract the negative and false ones that have become the “coin of the political realm.”

For example: John Lennon (quoting Jesus? Buddha?) said: “All you need is love.”
Chief Seattle said: “What we do to the web of life, we do to ourselves.”
In Community of Promise, I wrote: The Promised Land is within and among us.”
Or, as I sit here thinking, it comes to me that: “Individual Freedom does not guarantee justice or safety.”
Or
“Greed ultimately eats its host.” or “It is the nature of addiction to destroy its followers.”

Those are some of mine. I invite you to share some of the sound-bites you would want to promote?

Wayne Gustafson

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