A Post-Political perspective for pandemic times
Is there another country with as many identical flags hanging outside homes, boats, and buildings as the United States of America? The same colors fly over thirty other countries, but with less religious fervor. For the young American republic, the trinity of colors was not a fluke. Red symbolizes valor and hardiness. White is a reference to purity and innocence. Blue is a call for vigilance and justice.
Now in the year 2020, we are left with Red against Blue, each claiming to be right, without white, to the exclusion of the other. Flags are still widely hung, but some only see blue, and others only see red. Without the white, there is no American flag. Without purity of intent, red is but sound and fury; blue is a burgeoning bureaucracy. Without the harmonious co-existence of complementary values, there is no sustainable American democracy.
Dualistic thinking leads inexorably to conflict, and conflict that takes on existential proportions leads to war.
Carl von Clausewitz is popularly quoted for his statement that war is a continuation of politics by other means. We cannot imagine another civil war, but the spirit of warfare is with us already in America today. The drums behind each party’s platform are beating for the defeat of the enemy within. Politics as such is but a continuation of war by other means. Americans have been up in arms over the next election for decades.
Answering to the call of duty, we the people are firing ballots instead of bullets.
Now, good citizen, once you have fired your ballot (which really doesn’t require much more effort than drinking your morning coffee), perhaps you will escape your next duty as a good soldier.
Don’t let post-election blues get you down (or make you red). The fate of this conflict is not sealed by the election results. The conflict will continue as long as the flames are fanned, so instead of focusing all of your energy and every single Facebook post on the same subject of how horrible and unacceptable and historically unprecedented the situation is, why not do something super-political? Why not start…just take a first step…to exert your full power to do good in the world, rather than just trying to push the right man or woman into office to do it for you?
Your sphere of influence is not limited to the political process. Democracy made a good many things easier for us, but it is not democracy that made us fundamentally free. Therefore, let us not limit our freedom to what democracy asks of us.
There are many other ways in addition to voting that shape the face of the world. You only vote once in a while, but every single day you make other choices that have massive consequences. It is the little choices that must not be underestimated.
1/ Make your “consumer vote” matter.
Each purchase is a vote of acceptance about how the purchased product was produced, how it is used, and how it is disposed of. You debate economic policy, but you are an economic player, not a bench-sitter. You try to shield your guilty conscience with ignorance, but it won’t change the truth. You vote for a party that champions social justice, but you buy products that champion labor exploitation. You vote against the party driving environmental disasters, but you buy products on the list of top polluters. If you are clueless about which products are the greatest polluters, even Google can guide you.
2/ Work for companies and organisations that benefit the world in some way.
It’s difficult to leave a high-paying job with a great polluter or a corrupt corporation because all that disposable income is what allows you to purchase more polluting products. Still, if you want something to count more than your ballot, consider where you will continue to invest the hundreds of productive hours your life has to offer. Cast, continuously, your own personal, living ballot to make yourself count.
3/ Support initiatives and organisations dedicated to making the world better.
Whichever party gains power, will that fundamentally change the problem of over 600 million humans on earth not having access to clean drinking water? Why would this vital issue be less important than how much you are going to have to pay in taxes or how much your healthcare will cost? Why would it be less important than a pandemic with a low mortality rate? If you hate paying taxes because the government wastes your money, make your own choice to contribute something else. You only vote at elections, but you can give every month. Your choice is not limited to left or right. There are hundreds of organisations working to better the world in some way. Many are making a mess of it, so pick the problem you think is most critical, and the one you can put your heart into. Support is not limited to charity. You can invest in companies that offer sustainable products. You can buy these products even though they cost more. You can start your own company.
Blue, white, and red
Now, turn to your fellow American citizens (the ones you’d like to send off on the next boat), and consider that these persons, regardless of their party and color, could be doing one or several good things mentioned above. The very same persons who are wreaking havoc in your greatest-democracy- in-the- world may be doing something positive elsewhere. If they are, then you can soften your judgment a little and let them follow their political-babble wherever it takes them. If it takes them to the hell of their dreams, just let them go there. If they are doing no other good in the world, then what difference does their party make?
Once you put politics into perspective, you may not have to go to war after all. In truth, as long as there is a war declared in your heart, it will become violently visible at some point.
I have written this article in my role as an American in Paris.
Read LVX by LEO for my perspectives on a better world that is possible.