Thursday, November 4, 2010

Is it okay for the other guy to win?

Two years ago, on the morning after election day, I was riding pretty high. It was the first time, since I had embarked on the pathless path, that the party I voted for had won big. What a high! There's nothing juicier than having your whole body and heart feed back feelings of happiness and joy. I gotta say, I enjoyed it all immensely.

A few days later, I was sitting with a group of people who, after some time in silence, were articulating their views about the future, based on the election's outcomes. Most were grateful and hopeful for a future where open hearts would prevail and fear would not be the driving force in the public arena. What came to me in those moments was something different. I felt connection with the "losers."

Let me be clear. This was not pity. Pity is that distorted sense that comes up, based on the belief that "I'm better off than you, I'm smarter or richer or saner than you. Poor you for not having what I have." Pity strengthens separation rather than dissolving it. Pity reinforces a Me that holds itself better than the Other. No, this was more like a view into the past and future at the same time. This was compassion, coming out of the certain knowledge that many times before, and soon enough again, I also have had and will have the role of "loser." And that along with losing comes concern for the future, and a sense of lost possibilities, exactly as I was hearing the losing party describe having in their situation.

Every time anyone runs for public office, they're working hard with a good chance that they'll come out the loser, with all the difficulty that entails. It's tough work, and I imagine heartbreaking when you find yourself having to walk away without the chance to make a difference, or being sent home without the satisfaction of finishing a job you started. Given all of that, at that moment, I took a vow to support every public servant who willingly placed themselves into the arena of battling for what they know to be best. That doesn't mean I stop speaking or roll over if bad choices are being made. It means I treat every candidate and office-holder with respect and dignity, and that I do so in thought as well as in word and action. It means that on the Day After, I send my best wishes and hopes to those going off to do the work. It also means that I vow not to cultivate fear, judgment or disdain toward anyone.

Flash forward two years, and here I am. The party that best represents how I'd like to see people supported and society structured is out. O-U-T, out. At least for now.

And I'm remembering my vow.

Is it okay with you if the other guy wins? Is it actually possible to know who should win, or what government should decide and implement? I can think of lots of actions over the years that I thought were all washed up, that turned out to have some merit. I can also think of lots of actions I favored that had strange, unwelcome consequences. And vice versa to all of that, of course. We live in a big, messy country, with all kinds of people having all kinds of high-minded and greedy intentions. This system we have keeps us lurching along, swinging left and right just enough to keep us all as honest as we can muster. It's obvious to everyone that it's not perfect or anything close to it. It's peopled by we imperfect beings, so it's a system that perfectly reflects our imperfection. It is exactly and precisely what it is.

I choose to keep my attitude clear. Do what I know to be correct, best I can tell. Deploy my life energy toward the best efforts I can locate. Recognize the vast amount of imperfection that I can't personally resolve. Rest in the knowing that it is all unfolding, lurching, and stumbling along the way it's gotta. It's a perfect mess. God bless it.