This morning, I put one of my favorite albums on iTunes and pulled my headphones on. “The Division Bell” by Pink Floyd has always been one of those albums I can spend hours just letting it cycle over and over in the background. And while I loved the music, I never really explored the overall thematic of the album, until a cold, rainy day back in 2007. So, on a whim, I popped over to wikipedia and read the page concerning the album. The album, it turns out, was about communications and how talking can solve most of life’s problems. I thought it was an interesting concept, particularly given the lack of communication between Roger Waters and the rest of Pink Floyd. Listening to the album, I could definitely pick up on some of the angst over the unapproachable issue that lay between the two sides. And, in my opinion, if you open yourself up to the music, you can feel the raw emotions tied to that in the songs.
Since then, the album has become my emotional cornerstone for trying to deal with raw, opened wounds on a wide variety of issues. But I had only applied it to things that were intensely personal to me. Late in 2013 – about two months from the time of me writing this on 1/3/2014 – I was tying off the last bitter feelings I have had concerning the political spectrum here in the United States. The Democratic and Republican parties are far too closely aligned with corporations and individuals blessed with large fortunes of money. The politicians themselves, make more money in a single year than a handful of the average voters that they court every two to four years for support. After taking two classes on Texas and United States government, it was far too easy to see that money was the driving force in the system. Of course, to change the way the system is currently built, the very people getting paid off by the corporations would have to be the ones to enact that change. And that seems to be so bloody unlikely to happen.
Add to the recipe in this cauldron of American politics, the extremely divided perspectives of how to govern and what exactly is important –then stir it all together — and you have just created the elixir of political gridlock. And even when the voters clamor over something to be done and come to something that resembles a semi-consensus, the politicians will time and again defer to what the corporations want. What an exhausting and mind-numbing system. Voters are essentially beating their heads against the wall. Politicians are essentially in Washington DC to line their pockets and have their mastubatory fantasies over the “power” they hold over the rest of the American citizens. Its no wonder people are dropping out of the political system. No wonder at all that Americans have such a low voting turnout. And once people start to feel that the system does not work, their attention turns to what to do to make it work – including radical perspectives, fueled by visions of “Red Dawn” and other insipid films from Hollywood that feed on those emotions for the cash that these folks will shell out to “escape” their reality.
Stepping away from all of that, there is one thing that can resolve what is going on in American politics. Talking and listening. Taken together, these two actions can lead to understanding. Take individually, you have one individual talking to be heard, and one individually listening but not providing feedback. With no feedback, the talker assumes that their point is being completely understood. By merely listening, the individually listening may be letting a particular point slip past that could make a difference in how everything is understood. Here in the United States, we have a Congress that talks, and rarely listens. In that Congress, there is a silent minority – politicians that have come to make a difference in the system…idealists who want to see things work for the citizens of the United States. Frozen out of the system, their only saving grace is their vote on issues, which the corporations will come to attempt to sway through money and influence. Starving for that necessary influence to make their points…is it no wonder why the folks in Congress are playing the vote-buying game? Trying to make a difference, with a voice that is marginalized by those members of Congress that are arrogant enough to believe that the person who talks the loudest and the longest wins the conversation….yeah, I can understand it.
Is there a way to fix it? If you ask some folks, they will say the only way to fix it is to burn Washington DC to the ground. Or hang all the members of one party. Or, my favorite, vote everyone out of office and vote in people who more adequately represent the average person in America. I am not sure how those people will be able to avoid the corruption of the corporations when they come courting Congressional members for votes. No, the first answer is to get the corporations off of the Hill. That means removing the lobbyists. Yes, I realize that this removes some of the lobbyists for movements that I strongly believe in, such as environmental issues. But I believe that if the issue is the right thing to do, there is no need for a lobbyist to help a Congressional member to vote. This, however, brings me back to a previous point: communication.
Congressional members cannot read the minds of their constituents. They need people back home to communicate with them over how they (the voters) feel about issues. Sure, we all run busy lives. But consider how much time you spend on Facebook, or playing whatever the latest MMORPG game is the hot thing. Couldn’t you take a few moments to write a simple Email to your Congressional representatives telling them in a few sentences how you feel about an issue? Ok, so you don’t level up that Elf/Cleric tonight because of that. Was that more important than talking to your representative about an issue that can have profound effects on you? Consider this….
Everything we do. Every choice we make. It has a correlating action or reaction to something else. You chose to wear a tie to work today. In the lobby, one of the pretty ladies that works in the building notices you – thinks you look rather dashing dressed up ever so slightly and decides to take that moment to talk with you. You exchange phone numbers, start seeing one another, eventually marry, have children, who have grand-children…. Something that small CAN have an effect in your life. Perhaps not as drastic as the point I make, but it is there. You don’t tell your representatives how you feel, and perhaps your voice may have been the one that tipped the scale in favor of your cause. Perhaps, your action of contacting your representative inspires others to do the same – and instead of just your singular voice, thousands of people espousing your viewpoint contact your representative. Do you not believe that may give them pause in deciding how to vote? Remember, they court your vote.
But before any action gets taken…there has to be some form of communication. We have to talk with one another. Even people on opposite sides of the political spectrum. We need to not only talk, but listen…
Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted
Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life
–“Coming Back to Life”, Pink Floyd, The Division Bell
…as a final disclaimer…parts of this post were inspired by Nimue Brown’s wonderful post: “Why You Need to Get Political“. I urge you to take a few moments and give her post a read.