The election is over and I, for one, am completely relieved. No more political commercials clogging up radio and TV, no more spammy, pre-recorded candidate phone pitches interrupting my dinner and workday. No more wild speculation on the possible outcomes?good or apocalyptic?for the future. And I don?t know about you, but I don?t feel any different today than I did last Monday before the whole drama culminated on Tuesday.
In my not so humble opinion, I think that we put more stock in elections than we should. The government, the country and the world are far bigger and more complex than most of us assume, and the solutions to our problems aren?t nearly as simple as we like to think.
If you were a Mitt Romney supporter, the world hasn?t (and won?t) come to an end because he didn?t win. And if you?re a Barrack Obama fan, this wasn?t Nirvana before the election and it won?t be any time soon. Obama won?t (and can?t) save the world any more than Romney could have destroyed it, and vice versa.
You have problems in your life, right? So do I. It?s normal. Now let?s take you and me, and imagine 7 billion people, each with their own set of problems. Are you getting a mental image of what?s going on here?
In the end, what we do on a personal level is far more important in our lives than which guy, or which party, control the government. I?ll take it a step further and say that many of the problems we face on a national level are the result of too many of us not fully grasping that concept.
Now, with yet another election behind us, is an outstanding time to refocus.
Let?s let it go and move on
We?re going to have more problems in the future. This is life and that?s the way it is. A lot of people, unhappy with the outcome of election, will seize on our problems as an opportunity to declare that ?this wouldn?t have happened if the election turned out different?.
Can I make a suggestion? Let it go. The election is over, the outcome was determined within the scope of the law and everyone has to accept it. Speculation that a different outcome would have radically altered the future is worse than a waste of time.
This is our time?the only time we have. We can either use it constructively in ways that will improve our lives and life in general in our own little corners of the world. Or we can stew in bitterness.
Stop waiting for the nameless, faceless ?they? to fix everything
When ever something goes wrong, or fails to work for the umpteenth time, we grumble and think or say, ?They should do something about this!?
Question: who are ?they??
I?ll try my hand at this one. When we say or think ?they?, we almost certainly mean politicians, don?t we? After all, they?re the ones with the power, the control and the money. And didn?t we elect them to solve our problems?
I had a brilliant international finance professor in college who said, ?People completely misunderstand the role of government. They think that government exists to solve problems, but they?re completely wrong. Government exists because of problems. If there were no problems, we wouldn?t need government.?
If we connect the dots on the professors statement, we can gain some understanding as to why our problems seem intractable, why nothing seems to get fixed no matter who?s steering the ship.
If that?s true, then a healthy dose of redirection is in order. We need to stop waiting around for ?they? to solve our problems, and start focusing on what we can do.
What we do in our own backyard is more important
Some people, usually those who are very political in their outlook, challenge us that this kind of thinking is selfish and irresponsible. I counter that it?s the only rational approach.
What we do in our own lives does matter. And not just to us, but to our families and our extended families, to our circle of friends, in our workplaces, in our churches, and in our communities. That may not be the entire country, and certainly not the whole world, but it?s still an awful lot of people.
Within the political system, we?ve cast our votes, and unless we have time to devote to political action committees or public demonstrations, our work is largely finished, at least until the next election.
In the meantime, let?s get back to our own backyards, where the real work is and needs to be.
The election is over – time to go back to the basics
I think part of the reason elections pull us in emotionally is that they?re exciting. They?re a chance to ?let your voice be heard?, and to ?make a difference?. Day to day life doesn?t work that way. It?s more like pushing a great big wheel forward a little at a time, and that can get kind of boring. Elections offer a shot at bold change?at least in theory.
Bold change at the macro level rarely happens, and pushing a big wheel forward is most of what life is about. It may not have the thrill of an election, but it?s what we?re here to do. Most other activities are distractions, including elections.
The election is over, but here are the things we can do?or continue to do?that will make an even greater difference:
- Take care of your family?you?ll keep the government from having to do it
- Take care of your health?you?ll be helping to keep at least one person?yourself?working and productive and not tethered to the healthcare system
- Work efficiently in your job?you?ll be contributing to society and the economy
- Grow your business?you?ll be doing the best you can to grow the economy
- Save money and avoid debt?you?ll lessen the likelihood that you?ll need to go on public assistance
- Invest your money?you?ll be providing capital for other businesses to grow and that helps the economy
- Be available for others, with time, money, or an ear to listen?you?ll do more to help a person in distress than any government program possibly can
- Volunteer at your church or your community?you?ll be improving on the most basic institutions in our society
Somehow, all of these taken together seem infinitely more important than who you pulled the lever for on Election Day. If your candidate or party didn?t win, it?s time to get moving?back to what it is you?re supposed to be doing. And if your choices did win, don?t assume all will be right with the world. Get back to tending your little corner of it.
?Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.??Dale Carnegie
Are you ready to let go of the election and take some action?