I was recently presented with a question as to my opinion on a political issue, and it got me thinking. A lot. And I’ve come to some conclusions. So here you have it, my all-inclusive primer on making political decisions. You’re welcome!
1) Care. If you don’t give a hoot’s hoot about something, either excuse yourself from the issue, or learn enough about it that you do care. Take very seriously the issues to which you assign your opinion, your voice, your vote. And care about the fact that you’re throwing your reputation in with that thing. I remember vividly the first time I was in a voting box and realized that if I didn’t have an issue on a topic, I could abstain from voting, and refrain from inadvertently siding with something I didn’t agree with. But here’s the kicker: I have found that in every issue I didn’t know anything at all, once I looked at the facts, I knew where I stood. Which bring us to…
2) Check your emotions. Yeah. I said that. Think with your brain. There’s a time to feel about things, and there’s a time to sit down and sort through some reality, and emotions muck up the waters. And really amped emotions throw your brain out the window. See item #3
3) Ignore the Chicken Little’s. If someone is screaming at you that the world is going to end if you don’t vote a particular way, then smile, back away slowly, and find some new turf. Does everyone remember how this story goes? Chicken Little walks unsuspecting under an acorn and convinces herself that the sky is falling. And convinces Henny Penny. And Ducky Lucky. And a whole slew of other forest animals to GO TELL THE KING that the sky is falling the world is ending. And who should arrive, but a fox to play into their terror-fest with plans to lead them off to his den AND EAT THEM.
Folks, much as we would all love to think that there was a magic wand that could fix *everything* in a single sweep/rule/law/proposition, there’s just not. No one issue will sink the battle ship. Many small course adjustments can make change, and that’s great. But really, if they’re that worked up about something, you may want to fact-check what’s up, i.e. acorns falling in nature do not a sky-catastrophe make.
4) Research, read, and research some more. Sorry. If you hated homework in high school or are totally intimidated by legal vernacular, this one’s gonna take some swallowing. There’s this magical thing called public record. You can read all the words of every issue out there. If you want to know about something, Google it. (And stick to sites that have things like .gov in their names) I am amazed at how often an issue (All Sneetches MUST have stars!) is actually parading around to hide another issue (We’d like to tax all frankfurter parties). This issue that prompted the post? The hell-fire and brimstone petition in question? The title issue was #7 on the list. SEVEN, FOLKS. Behind six other non-related things. That means they were riling people up on a topic that was so far down the list, you wouldn’t get to it at your average PTC meeting.
5) Talk to someone on the other side of the issue, and ask them to explain their side to you.
Still with me?
This is one that flies straight in the face of the most dysfunctional part of this paradigm. The part where we only talk to the people who agree with us, and get new information about the evil *them* from the all-holy *us*. Please, hear my heart on this. We are all human beings. We all have families, love, hurt, dreams… all that. The assumption that you daren’t even TALK to people on the other side of an issue comes out of fear. Nasty, nasty fear. Fear that hides and is so scared that it’ll hear something different, that it might have its ideas challenged, that it might learn something new, that it just plugs its ears and closes its eyes. Not a pretty picture.
Every time I have approached someone from the opposing side of an issue (and trust me, I’ve walked this walk on some pretty hairy talking points) I have been met with respect, appreciation, honor, and a really, REALLY great conversation. Try it, you’ll like it.
6) Step back, take a breath, trust your gut. Maybe there’s a third option.. Maybe the whole story isn’t being told. Who knows, right? But once you have all the facts, you have my blessing to make a decision, pick a position, and…
7) Walk out your choice with your eyes open and your head high. Brilliant.
So, what does this have to do with the Sneetches? Take a moment and look at the story. (P.S. Seuss is brilliant) We had the star-bellies, who are a**holes. We have the no-stars, the victims. And McBean, the man with all the answers. But what would’ve happened if someone had stopped to ask, “What is the deal with all this?” How different would the ending of that story be if someone had walked over, talked to the other group and said, “Hey, how do YOU feel about all this?” Could they have skipped all the money-spending and emotions and running around in circles? Because Sneetches, after all, are all Sneetches.
The next time you are faced with an issue that looks like the end of the world, take a beat. Breathe. Read. Talk. Teach a Sneetch. Catch you at the next frankfurter party. 😉