Just a warning - this blog is not about quilting. It's not even about creativity. I'm breaking some rules with this blog - hijacking it to talk about something entirely different. In all good conscious, I have to. Because I know I've taken my good life, my community, my country, even my planet for granted. And when I look at what's going on right now, I know I can no longer do it.
In the last month, I visited both sides of this beautiful continent. Both trips were life-changing and thought-provoking and special. How lucky I am to live in such a beautiful, amazing, place of abundance, opportunity and freedom. (The pictures you see here are from my trips.) It reminded me that US I love this country too much to stay quiet and safe and secure in my lucky life. I need to say what I'm about to say because my soul knows it's right. I don't have many answers to what I'm about to write about, but let me tell you - I'm going to start asking some questions. Not only of others, but of myself, too (more on this later).
Which brings me the presidential election. A misstep of such epic proportions, I'm completely aghast every time I consider it. How is it that we've allowed ourselves to so completely lose our way? I'm not just pointing my finger outward, here, I completely blame myself too, believe me. I've spent most of my life pretty much taking our political system for granted. It seemed to be working alright, if not perfectly. In the last few years I've been pursuing mostly spiritual goals and have felt that if we can just get ourselves aligned spiritually, we can then do what we need to do. But this election has made me realize that I can no longer be so disengaged. We are a country of 300 million people - almost too large to sustain ourselves, really - and we have SERIOUS challenges facing us. What are we doing here to solve them? To me the answer is- tragically - absolutely nothing.
Let's not forget that we've created most of these problems ourselves. From the very beginning of this country, we didn't hold ourselves to the standards we knew we should. The founding fathers, as brilliant and amazing as they were - allowed us to continue exploiting other human beings all the while talking about freedom! Many of them knew it was wrong, but they were focused on the desired outcome so they allowed themselves to be persuaded to compromise their morals in order to form this nation. They also set this country up so that a small minority of landowners had all the power. While I disagree with that kind of thinking, in their defense, I think they understood that most people have to work, to produce, to build their lives and don't have time to be constantly engaged in politics. And that is true. But again, the idea that only rich white males should be making all the decisions for our country is completely wrong and outdated, at best.
Please don't misunderstand me - I love my country, I'm so grateful every day for being born here to the freedom, opportunity, and beauty of this place. The United States is a truly great and noble experiment, successful for the most part. I have great admiration for the people who argued and sweated and hammered out our constitution. They knew it was flawed, but it's also miraculous too.
In many ways, we've shown ourselves to be a great nation - we've fought to overcome and change some of the limitations and problems of our beginnings and are still overcoming them. Yeah, we've made many mistakes, but we've accomplished a lot, too. Here we have freedom to be who we are, to become whomever we want to become, to live as we want to live. Of course we have enormous problems as well.. We have too many inequalities still, we have many too many people who are struggling and suffering. But overall, if we look at other places, we have to say that we have it really, really good. We have great opportunities which don't exist everywhere. Most importantly, I believe, we also have the ability and the tools to change, too, which is more than most countries are able to do. And we need to change. Seriously.
Because we are at a crossroads now. We need to start paying attention - not to what we can have and be and consume, not to our televisions and what the media tells us, but to what really, really matters to us. We need to think seriously about what we believe, what our goals are, and to our needs, not only as individuals, but as human beings who are living on a planet that is quickly losing it's ability to sustain us because of how we treat it and each other. We need to sit down and hammer out new ways to proceed, because if we don't, we're danger of losing - well - everything.
We can no longer be so involved in our own lives and pursuits that we allow ourselves to accept the gaping void of leadership, not just in the top job (present president, in my humble opinion, excepted) but by our lawmakers, too. We spend so much time paying attention to our presidential candidates that we forget that our local and state leaders and CONGRESS are elected, too. And that they have NOT been doing the job they are charged with. They have all but held our government hostage for the last eight years, but all we can talk about is Hillary and Donald - the side show. Congress has not been representing us, their constituents, they are too busy representing political parties, lobbies and powerful big money donors who pay for their re-elections. I have this feeling they are gleefully watching the current display of ridiculousness and are laughing up their sleeves at all of us fools who will just unthinkingly re-elect them because we are so busy being entertained by the utter nonsense of the presidential election. "Yay!" they are thinking, "We get another chance to stay in power, take money from people in exchange for votes, and sit on our asses doing absolutely nothing about the real problems in this country all the while the citizens worry about which bozo to elect - LOVE IT!"
And as long as we don't pay attention, as long we we don't ENGAGE, they will continue to do nothing, to not address the real problems, to ignore us - their bosses, who pay their exorbitant salaries. And we have only ourselves to blame for this. By constantly disengaging from politics, we are giving the the message that as long as we get ours, we don't care what else happens. It's mainly only those who aren't getting theirs who are speaking out and protesting and trying to make changes. The disenfranchised, the ones who aren't getting the opportunities, justice, or the freedoms. How lucky for us who are living the dream that they are just a minority, so we don't have to care about them! But what we don't realize is that we are all in this together - we are them and they are us! We all come from the same place and we are all going to the same place, and as long as any one person is not getting needs met, we ALL suffer. Until we see that we are all connected, we are failing ourselves and our country, and because the world is a small place, the entire planet.
It's time for us to engage. We must rise above our reality-tv and media-as-entertainment-induced comas and start letting them know that we will not stand for this any longer. We must hold them and ourselves accountable for what happens not just in this country and all over the world.
And believe me, I am holding myself accountable too. I don't in any way think I haven't been complicit. It's so easy when one has a good life to forget about other people's problems. I know I've been asleep and dreaming the American Dream. And for me personally, it's been mostly lovely. But now I'm awake. And I'm going to engage. I'm not sure how, but I know I'm no longer content to let people who don't really care about other people or my planet run the show. It's true, and even a good thing that people don't agree on how best to solve problems, that leads to creative problem-solving, but that's no excuse for doing NOTHING. We will have to work together and compromise - we will probably even have to make sacrifices - to sustain losses - so that we can make a difference - so that we can make things better before it's too late!
Let me say this: I think any of us who have children know we would jump in front of a bus without a second thought to save them. It's gonna hurt, but I think we have to be willing to to do this not just for the people we know and love, but for each other - yes, even for strangers and those who don't agree with us, for people who live on the other side of the planet, for those who haven't been born yet. And yes, even for the plants and animals with whom we share this planet! I'm not saying it will come to that - I hope it doesn't, but the willingness to sacrifice MUST be there in order for us to sustain true change. And we ARE strong enough to do it, especially together. This I know for sure, to quote the wise and wonderful Oprah Winfrey.
I"m not entirely sure what I'm going to do yet. I feel like I'm only a grain of sand here - what difference can I make? But I'm willing to try. I do know I'm going to become more engaged, I'm going to pay attention, maybe even write letters to my representatives letting them know I'm here, and I'm watching, and I expect them to answer to me, Joanna Q. Voter. I'm thinking about starting a new blog about things that matter to me, too. It's probably not much, maybe not even enough, but it's a start. And I'm asking you, my readers - my fellow humans, to search yourselves to see what you can do. I'm not telling you what to think or do, just to think and do! At the very least, pay attention to who is running the show and if you don't like what they are doing, let them know by VOTING THEM OUT OF OFFICE. We are so lucky that we can do this, but I feel like we've only been doing it in theory.
NOW is the time to put it into practice.