“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us
to be what we know we could be.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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AAlexis de Toqueville, a French diplomat, political scientist, and historian, wrote that “In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.” Was he right?
According to Toqueville’s premise, the results of the latest U.S. election – which has thrown American into something of a political free fall – is exactly what we deserve. Whether that is entirely true or not, over 60 million Americans voted for President Trump.
Let’s be realistic about something: our current system of democracy is not truly democratic.
As one astute blogger observed, “The public doesn’t get to choose who the nominees are. The powers that be (the two major parties’ leadership and the corporate media) decide who the “legitimate” nominees are going to be. They weed out of serious consideration any other candidates…” 1
But this doesn’t negate the fact that 60 million voters chose to support the values that the successful candidate and his cohorts represented. They agreed with those values. We can complain about this, rail against a rigged system, etc., but that’s just a smokescreen, effectively distracting us from acknowledging what’s really going on.
What’s really going on is that we humans are less evolved than we’ve thought! We still embrace extreme selfishness, we crave attention, we are intoxicated with personal power over others, and we attack those who disagree with us.
We might protest, “Oh no, not me!” but remember, whenever we point a finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at ourselves! Have you ever witnessed such finger pointing, since this election? Forget about “Him” and “Them” for a moment. What about us? What about me?
Here’s more from that post. “The candidates who are left… are then “democratically” elected by the people. This process is like a child who is told by his/her parents that they can either have the peas or the carrots, but they must eat one of them. If the child chooses the carrots does that mean that the child is in charge of what s/he eats?” 2
I wanted to include this statement before offering an alternative, just to ensure that we do understand how impossible our political choices are. Given that, and the realistic assumption that nothing much will change any time soon, what’s left for us, for any of us who feel urged to make a difference? Because, clearly, voting doesn’t accomplish much.
There’s always a third candidate.
You can vote for yourself. Not in a voting booth, but in your assumption of personal responsibility to live your values. In the opening quote, Emerson wrote, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” What if we saw that person when we looked in the mirror?
That would be an awakening moment.
Imagine giving up on the hope that someone else, anyone else, could represent that for us and becoming 100% responsible, totally self-empowered to provide what was needed in the reality of the moment, and to be fully accountable for the results. Yes, we can still vote and choose the best candidate in our eyes. But we can also stop hoping they will save us. No, they will represent the values of the voters… until they get into office. Then we get to find out what values they really represent, based on who funded their victory! If those values are radically at odds with our own, we can relapse into judgment… or, we can produce our own “third party alternative.”
You know I’m not talking about an alternative political party.
Here’s the catch: that alternative would need to be inspiring and no-one gets inspired by complaint. What inspires is kindness and the kind of strength that lifts others up rather than putting them down. Confidence, teamwork, compassion. And, as I wrote about in the last blog, Love with a capital “L.”
At this moment in our human history we are confronted by a crisis of leadership, because we have projected what’s truly needed onto others. Yes, we will always elevate men and women to positions of power where they can help (hopefully) mediate the affairs of a town, state, nation, and the world. We do need those who are skilled at management.
Meanwhile, here we are, with the opportunity to fulfil Gandhi’s injunction, to “be the change we wish to see in the world.” What might this accomplish? Who knows? But we’ll never find out unless we try. And that begins by separating inspiration from management.
It’s unfair to demand that every superstar athlete or celebrity be a paragon of personal virtue and it’s the same insanity to demand that every elected “manager” will provide enlightened inspiration. BTW, those truly inspiring leaders that have come along periodically always pointed their finger at us and said, as Gandhi did: “be the change.”
If the power of Love can, as I like to say, “beat our hearts and steer the stars,” imagine what else it could accomplish, if it was more widely expressed. That’s what we are here for in these wild days on planet earth. Despite our insanity, we humans are uniquely designed to express Love. I wonder what might happen if we took that responsibility seriously?