Values make us act
We all act according to our values. But that’s not the complete picture. Our values forge our beliefs as they stimulate our thoughts and feelings, which, in turn, affect our behaviors – how we act and what we say. Conversely, what we say and do (our habits) color our feelings and modify our thoughts, which then cause our values to solidify or evolve.
Sounds simple? Not so fast. Throw in some influence from our genetic codes and sprinkle in some sway from how we’re nurtured from birth. Then assess how we live out our values. The very act of living becomes complex.
We need to gain perspective
I am concerned about how we act and what we say during these turbulent political times. Our civil discourse is being tested and stretched to breaking points that may cause serious damage.
It helps, I think, to have some positive perspective. I think we retain some balance if we objectively assess where we are, where we are headed and, most importantly, where we intend to arrive.
Our politics is a three-act play
I see the current political landscape as a three-act play. Wikipedia provides some valuable insight as I explain the analogy.
It seems that the first years of the Trump presidency have been act one. We were introduced to a cast of characters, numerous plot lines emerged, some foreshadow hints surfaced, and suspense was anchored in maneuverings and intrigue – sometimes in secret, sometimes in the open. Delivery of the Mueller Report is the end of act one. The audience (us) wonders what comes next.
Act two promises more action, leading to resolution
Act two opens with the reading of the Mueller Report. Sometimes referred to as rising action, we may see act the characters attempt to bring resolution to the growing conflicts. What will Trump do? What will Congress do? What will the continued investigations and subpoenas bring forth?
Meanwhile, the 2020 election is on the horizon. Already we have a large cast of Democratic contenders vying for the office. Rather than focusing just on specific individuals, try watching and listening to how the messaging takes form and captures the public’s interest. The messaging is shaped by the response it receives. Messaging sets our values and prompts our thoughts and feelings, which, in turn, stimulate our behavior.
We have roles in this three-act play
Here’s a critical point about this analogy: we are characters in this play. We are not center-stage and we remain in the audience. But as we are affected by what we witness, the central characters are also affected, as is the rest of the audience, by our responses. We are playing a role even if we remain largely silent. We help shape our nation’s future values and intentions.
Act two will persist until the 2020 presidential election. The curtain will close on act two and quickly part again to begin act three. We can only speculate about act three: Will Trump win the election again (or will he even win the primary?)? Will a Democrat assume the Oval Office? How will national policies be affected? What will be the reactions of the nation’s governed and the international communities?
Act three will persist for much longer than either act one or act two. Whatever occurs in November of 2020 will affect this nation for generations. Presidencies have that kind of power and consequence.
Long range perspectives form long range values
Perspectives matter. The foregoing is an attempt to point out how critical it is for us to be cognizant of our own values, beliefs, and behaviors. Hope or despair can emerge from the same melting pot, these United States.
I leave you with a quote I recently read that gave me pause and helped, once again, to keep my optimism fueled. It’s from Accessory to War by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang.
…imagine that each of us is a transient assemblage of atoms and molecules; that our planet is one small pebble ambling in orbit through the vacuum of space; that astrophysics, a historical handmaiden of human conflict, now offers a way to redirect our species’ urges to kill into collaborative urges to explore, to uncover alien civilizations, to link Earth with the rest of the cosmos—genetically, chemically, atomically—and protect our home planet until the Sun’s furnace burns itself out five billion years hence.
Try to imagine such things not because they are imaginary, but because they are true.
Our future depends on our civil discourse
We are in the midst of a three-act play that promises to be quite lengthy. It matters greatly that we be aware of our behaviors for they affect how the play will end. Our civil discourse is critical as is the realization that we need each other. Let’s remain positive and respect each other while the play continues.
To that end, here’s one final thought before you turn back to the ongoing act two. Electing a president is no small matter. To do it right we need every vote to count, giving all viable ballots their due representation. It also means that every state must matter in this federalist republic. Only Equal Voice Voting (EVV) can meet this standard. Only EVV can deliver a truly democratic voice.
Our perspectives, and our intentions, add credence to our nation’s motto:
e pluribus unum– out of many, one!