It's easy to say that politicians are like out of control vermin, spreading the disease of unrest, dissatisfaction, frustration, fear, and anger. As citizens, we all have a special love/hate relationship with our elected officials, and being in a relationship with them, we need to seriously speak up for ourselves and not accept poor relationship behavior.
We forget that we the people are the pesticide that can in fact exterminate these unwanted pests. While the government is back at "work," and I use that term loosely, we're left floundering with ill feelings, shaking our heads in outrage with the ridiculousness of the whole proposition that these grown-ups can't work out solutions to the nation’s problems. While they stood around stamping their feet at each other, taking our tax dollars for their salaries, the most vulnerable, the sick and poor in this country, were left to fend for themselves.
We can spew our own venom over our unhappiness with these rodents, or we can take charge. Learn to live in peace with them or eradicate them. Whatever you choose to do, I would encourage you to take some action that is in alignment with how you view your congress people, rather than just act like a helpless victim.
If we set aside the "us" versus "them" debate concerning left vs. right, conservative vs. liberal, republican vs. democrat vs. tea party in the US, we can step into our true authentic power as a united front. It's important to remember that most of us have similar values. We just have different ways of meeting our needs and fulfilling those values. Unfortunately, we usually get stuck defending our own "positions" acting like we "know" one side is right and the other is wrong. As long as we get mad about us vs. them, we remain victims.
Lately people are waking up to the realization that there really is no difference in the parties' positions and promises. When we take personal responsibility for our own piece of this political mess, we leave behind the victim mentality and can take positive action.
Chris Cillizza in his blog "The Fix" from the Washington Post stated that "[i]n 2012, Congressional approval averaged 15 percent, the lowest in nearly four decades of Gallup polling. And yet, 90 percent of House Members and 91 percent of Senators who sought re-election won last November." Other polls show an approval rating of 8% and 10%, yet in the last almost 50 years, at least 80% of house incumbents are reelected every single election. The Center for Responsive Politics offers a graph showing the last 50 years for incumbent reelections.
Clearly, all the polls show that Americans are disgusted with their lack of representation, or very poor representation in Congress, yet we vote the same representatives back into office, year after year. In 2 years the current House of Representatives can be totally abolished, fired, and reassembled. In 6 years, the Senate. What stops us? What is going on that keeps us angry and frustrated yet unable to take it upon ourselves to fire those who do not do their jobs? Do we have a short memory span? Do we simply forget? Do we vote for one side thinking the other side is worse? Or do we forgive?
Forgiveness is not about being stupid and not taking care of your needs. It's okay to say I forgive your idiotic behavior, but I will not accept you as my elected representative. That is called taking a stand and following through on getting your needs met. Forgiveness is for you, to allow you to let go of your anger, hurt, and frustration. You can admit to making a mistake voting for this person, and then choose to change your vote next time around.
Forgiveness is empowering. It allows you to no longer be a victim of someone else's behavior. Here is how the 4-step Living with Forgiveness Process as outlined in the book Forgiveness: Heal Your Past and Find the Peace Your Deserve (2012 Sacred Life Press) is applied to politicians:
- Acceptance and Acknowledgement of the Truth: Your elected representative overspent, did not do his or her job within a budget, could not negotiate on items vitally important to your country, and voted for select interest groups rather than for his constituents best interests.
- Personal Responsibility: Last time I voted for this person, I didn't do my homework or he or she wasn't the person I thought I was voting for. Another scenario might be — I did not vote at all. I've been apathetic in taking responsibility for our elected officials and I can't complain if I didn't take part in the process. Next election I will vote.
- Gifts and Lessons learned: I realize that something happens to the majority of politicians as they rise to power. Their ego takes over and even if they went into politics because they cared about "the people," something happens over time when politics becomes a "career." The saying, "absolute power corrupts absolutely" comes to mind. These are not necessarily bad people, but they are no longer of "the people." Being a representative, being of service to the country should be an honor, and should be treated with utmost humility and integrity.
- Gratitude: Ultimately, we are all grateful that we're part of a democratic system, that I can write an article like this without fear of persecution. What a blessing that is. We are fortunate that we can in fact vote out of office those representatives who misbehave, pander to selfish, self-interested lobbying groups, and toss aside the fate of our most needy, our children, our environment, our health care and our future generations.
Forgiveness and taking a stand are not exclusive. Forgive them so you can find peace. And if you are unhappy with your representative, take action.
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