Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I Am Not Impressed

I wonder why I'm not more invested in politics than I am; why don't I seem to give much of a damn? I'm not saying that I don't care at all, but I have even been surprising myself with my apathy lately. Seriously. I mean, I'll vote, but I won't be voting for John Kerry, I'll be voting for the "Not-George-Bush" guy who is most likely to win—who just so happens to be Kerry. I always feel that as long as the country I'm living in is not committing any unjustifiedly sinister actions, I'm fine with whomever is leading. (Well, an upbeat economy is always nice too.) It is simply evident that I am not living in such a place under GDubya's quasi-leadership.

Don't get me wrong, I have as many opinions and beliefs on what should be done and what is right as anyone, I just realize that what I think has nothing whatsoever to do with reality. Actions are the only form of expression that matters—truly doing something that makes a difference; and I don't mean trying to change other people's minds. Changing other people's opinions to match mine does not make either my opinions or theirs any more relevant to reality than my opinion alone. For example, I can believe a wall is not really there—that it's really just an illusion. I can then walk at that wall as if it were not there and see how little what I believe has to do with reality when I smack my face on sheet rock. Now, if I can manage to convince someone else that the wall is an illusion (so that they now agree with me), does that make the wall less real than when I was the only person believing that? Of course not. It doesn't matter how many people I can get to agree with me, the wall still fucking exists. No, changing the minds of others doesn't make any difference if you're not also willing to be a leader and go out, get your hands dirty and accomplish something. The only way to be right that the wall doesn't exist is to create that reality—to make it honest-to-God real by knocking the fucking wall down.

Now, why that long digression away from politics? I find it silly when I see all these pundits left and right trying to convince me that their way is right and that I really should agree with them—because they are right and everything else is wrong. I mean honestly people! I can believe whatever I want on any issue, but that doesn't make my position right, much less real. People who want gay marriage legalized are no more right than those that don't want it legalized. Either way, believing something doesn't make it happen anyways. What really makes gay marriage real is not a lot of people believing it is right, it's eight couples going out and doing something to make it real.

Do I think gay marriage should be legal? Yes. Does my opinion mean jack shit? Of course not. That would be crazy to think it does. And that is why I cannot bring myself to be a political pundit. I'm not willing to be a leader who will actually physically go out and do something to change what I don't agree with. Unlike most people, however, I'm willing to take responsibility for my laziness and for my fear of getting outside of my comfort zone and putting my ass on the line for what I want to create. Instead, I'm going to sit back in my cozy chair and read, edit, and write about what I want to write about without concerning myself with being heard until I truly have something to say and am willing to get my ass out there and lead others in what I am trying to create.

Yes, I am criticizing people who sit around and talk about their opinions and expect other people to care when they aren't putting their asses in the fire to effect change. Bill O' Riley? Al Franken? Chris Matthews? They may be entertaining, but nothing any of them do has any business thinking they are important or influential. Each of them, and so many others, live in their comfortable little worlds where they don't have to convince anyone who does not agree with them to alter their vote and take a stand for changing the world. Instead, they cater to audiences that already agree with them! If their shows didn't exist, the people who watch them now would hold the exact same beliefs. Those three and those like them haven't changed a mind in their lives.

Even those who do change minds through their blather, while more respectable than the previous category, don't terribly impress me. Changing minds and winning votes on a policy does not equate to the creation of that policy. Take Clinton's Universal Healthcare platform if you want an example of how little changing people's minds translates into reality. Who was the last politician to deliver on even half of his/her policies promised during the campaign? They change minds, but they don't change reality—especially if congress doesn't agree with them. Do we, the people who elect these officials ever hold them to account? No, we cop out behind "Well, he tried..." or "Well, what can I do about it now?" There's plenty any of us can do. It would just be really hard. The truth of the matter is we either a.)pretend we're not important enough and thus avoidign the responsibility we put upon ourselves by electing this person, or b.)we privately admit that we really just aren't willing to go through that much effort because we frankly don't really care. But we'll still timidly whine about it when the reelection campaign comes up—not that that really accomplishes anything. We either vote for the same guy who has already proven that he's unwilling to try very hard to keep his promises, or we vote for the other guy who in turn probably won't keep his promises and we can then whine about him as well. Doesn't this strike anyone but me as ridiculous? Anyways, the point of that whole rant is that I don't want to hear the objection, "But changing minds IS taking action." The creation of reality and the creation of votes are not the same thing. The only consolation is when a vote will almost accidentally end up with one in five promises fulfilled and we'll then act happy to get that much.

If you want an example of what I AM talking about, I point to people who created something with their actions. Martin Luther King created legal racial equality. Ghandi created an independent India. Those may sound like extreme examples. They don't have to be. Those eight gay couples I linked to above are in the process of creating greater equality in Washington state. Michael Moore created a world where one less retailer sells handgun ammunition (and yes, most of the time he does indulge in the less useful forms of self-expression—see above—but sometimes, like this one, he really gets shit done). Does anyone, and I mean anyone think that Moore did anything that any of us (you, me, the guy next door) is not capable of doing? Anybody could have accomplished what he did. If you look at what he actually did, anyone with the intention and the camera could have asked the two kids from Columbine to come along and accomplished the exact same feat. However, we let him do it because it would be really scary to put ourselves on the line for that level of potential failure and embarassment. It was never that we can't do what he did. It's just that we won't. There's a million such things going on beneath our noses—people creating real change—but we're more concerned about what the pundits on CNN have to say. Bullshit.

Can writers and communicators effect real change in the world? I think so. Change cannot happen until an idea has first been expressed. That is the task of the writer/communicator who wants to make a real difference. Their action is first in the creating the possibility of change and then leading others in how to accomplish that end. But I don't see a lot of political writers out there who are trying to improve the basic human condition through the evolution of ideas. I only see them wanting me to agree with them; and, as was established above, that is just about the most useless exercise there is. When someone begins to effect real fucking change in this world, wake me up. I'll take an interest and take action for or against said idea depending on my (worthless unless acted upon) point of view on the matter. Until then, I'll be over here—sitting on my ass and not making a difference outside of the the half-assed action we call "voting."

Maybe I'll come up with that idea that will light a fire under my ass and I'll be willing to put my comfortable little bubble world away and do some significant writing and leading toward real change. But today is certainly not that day. Sure, it sucks to know that I'm not in any way helping to create a better world, but neither are the pundits—whatever they believe. I may not be making my opinions matter, but at least I'm honest with myself as to why not: I'm lazy and I'm afraid of that much work, discomfort, and possible failure. How many of the rest of you are willing to admit the same?


At August 21, 2004 at 10:57 PM, Blogger Will Brady said...

Thoughtful. Well done. I'll watch your comment with interest | PS gave you a kudos on my own blog


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