“You’re American?” my Russian Uber driver asked a few days ago as he drove me to the Prague airport.
“Yep,” I said.
He snorted. “What do you think of elections? Who will you vote for this year?”
“I don’t negotiate with terrorists,” I replied.
“Aha! Oh, so you do not vote?”
He went silent for a minute.
“Hmm…,” he then said. “OK. So, what do you think about what’s happening in Syria?”
“I think it’s a disaster,” I told him. “We are supporting terrorism.”
“Yes, OK. You are good American. You are not blinded by media. You know what the rest of the world thinks about America right now?”
“What do they think?” I asked.
His answer, in short: The rest of the world thinks we’ve lost our [expletive deleted] minds.
As you know, the presidential debates were yesterday. I, personally, have no idea how they went. Nor do I care.
I think it’s literally the least interesting thing on the planet. Moreover, I believe that by abstaining from entering that space, I’m doing my part to starve the beast.
Here’s where I’m putting my energy instead…
Every day, I try to ask myself, How do we build a society which isn’t solely dependent upon the empty promises and divide-and-conquer politics?
How do we stop feeding this violent beast with our precious time, energy and resources, and start using those resources to build things we love, rather than things we hate?
How do we, finally, make a world which gives everyone the opportunity to thrive? How do we make sure that nobody is left out in the cold? How do we help everyone who is on the bottom rungs of Maslow’s pyramid raise themselves up to the point of self-actualization and self-awareness?
So far, I’ve learned more about how not to do it. We won’t get there by falling for every single distraction the media wants us to be outraged about. We won’t get there by focusing on the latest juicy hit piece about Hillary or Trump. We won’t get there by being simply being critical of the system.
We will get there by the sweat of our brows.
Because, as Michelangelo once said, we must “Criticize by creating.”
And that’s the answer. It’s not enough to be critical of anything anymore. Most of America is hyper-aware that she is sick. Now, we need to criticize the system through forced obsolescence. We need to starve the beast.
As mentioned last week, I’ll be attending the Voice And Exit conference next month in Austin. And the more I read about their philosophy, the more excited I am about getting there.
“Part of the philosophy behind Voice & Exit,” Caroline Devine writes, “is that we can choose to leave situations and systems that aren’t working. The other side of this coin is that we are free to create new situations and new systems to ‘enter.’
“To innovate,” Devine goes on, “is first to ask three questions, sometimes in no particular order:
1) What does the new situation or system look like?
2) How will it work?
3) What is the best path to realizing this new situation or system?
“Real innovators may have to ask variations of these over and over.
“In any case,” says Devine, “innovation is a key driver in the turnover of systems and situations: we reshape the ideas that initially intrigued us into something real. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Again, this can be as simple as imagining what one’s personal situation will be like if we make a simple change, to what the world might look like if people can suddenly do X, Y, and Z when they couldn’t before. From trying out a new sleep schedule to inventing a crypto-currency, innovation is central to human flourishing.”
It’s true in every area of life that what we focus on builds in strength. And focusing on his political charade, becoming emotionally charged about it, is exactly what the current status quo needs to survive.
I’m much more interested in helping to build a society which is based on consent, compassion and building systems which drain psychopaths of their power, while empowering the individual to reach his or her greatest potential.
To me, this begins with refusing to engage in political discussion.
Because, come on…
How much energy is being wasted on choosing, as South Park put it, a Giant Douche or a Turd Sandwich?
In 2012, the American people spent almost $6 billion on the elections.
This is $6 billion diverted away from stable jobs, affordable housing, education, healthcare, feeding the hungry, etc., and thrown into an election where, in the end, a lot of promises were broken.
Billions more will likely be spent on this election. Massive amounts of brainpower will go into giving Americans the “choice” between two people that most people wouldn’t trust babysitting their child.
General Smedley Butler once said, “War is a racket.”
Although he’s right, it doesn’t hack at the root of the problem.
Politics, we say, is the real racket. And it’s time we stop waiting on it to give us the change we want.
Fortunately, as Max Borders describes below, a new world is forming. Set to rise like a phoenix out of the ashes of the old one. And this election is a sign of the times.
This Awful Election Signals a Transition Into a New Era
Someday we’ll look back on politics and shake our heads. It will have been a necessary phase — but not one we’ll want to relive. Necessary, because we have been undergoing a series of phases, none of which we could have bypassed.
We have already entered the next phase. Call it the Age of Connection. Once we realize all the benefits of this next phase, we’ll see how wasteful and acrimonious the prior phase had been.