Here in central Tejas, the weather is about to bring another promise of the coming Winter. Right now, the trees are holding on to their leaves. The leaves are clinging to their colors. Two cold fronts will push through the area over the next two days. These aren’t very strong, so the temps won’t get too cold. But the cold fronts will be coming through. I do wish Winter would hurry up and trot on through.
I miss traveling. I still remember the trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. I hate flying. Interest perspective from a former Air Force member, eh? The trip to Glacier was a three-day trek by vehicle. Up across the front edge of the Rocky Mountains, where the majesty of that marvelous mountain range is just right in your face. Then into Wyoming, and then westward into Montana. Glacier National Park was an amazing place to be. But the trip also provided the opportunities to talk with complete strangers from time to time.
Thinking back, never once was there a conversation about politics. Most of the discourse worked along the subjects of where one was from, what did you think about the beautiful scenery, and where have you eaten that you would recommend. You know, simple stuff. So, I fast-forward to my recent trip to Mesa Verde National Park in the south-western corner of Colorado. Everywhere I went, the conversations that I walked past or walked past me were about one topic (or at least it seemed to be at the forefront): American politics. Complaints about Republicans. Complaints about Democrats. Insults aimed at former President Trump. Insults aimed at President Biden. Really hateful stuff. And conversations I never wanted to enter or intrude on. The difference in time? About six years. Maybe a little more.
I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I’m not even a member of any of the smaller third parties that exist here in the United States. I’m what is termed as a “non-affiliated voter.” But you’ve heard this before, I’m none of that. I’m just me. I’m not overly chuffed with politics or political parties. You’re a registered Republican, a registered Democrat, or whatever other party you can dream of? Bully for you. I’m not impressed or disappointed in any of that. You handle what you need to do. Demand that I be part of your political movement or you will consider me to be a constant and consistent drag on society? Well, you’ll likely see a lot less of me in a social sense. I’ll find other circles to spend my time, probably to your great relief (though that’s an assumption – you still have to do you in that regard).
I have a theory (I have lots of theories) of what is manifesting this massive political perspective of “Us v. Them”. For a long time, our society has lived in a concept of division. We separate people according to their height, weight, skin color, eye color, handedness, social status, income level, intelligence, and a wide myriad of other factors. In achieving that aspect of division, we separate ourselves even deeper through concepts of how to govern our societal aspects, such as states, counties, cities, countries, municipalities, neighborhoods, and such. Once we figure out these divisions, we do our utmost best to protect what we have.
The year after I graduated high school, I attended a Sociology class in my first year of college. The professor who taught the class (whose name escapes me) divided the class into three groups. These groups were labeled as “Upper Class”, “Middle Class” and “Lower Class”. We then played a quiz game, where individuals who answered questions correctly (and first) were awarded points. Then, after the points were awarded, each group were given the chance to gather, and re-allocate all the points in the group. After this period, these points were checked to see if any individual had enough points to be moved from one group to another. After a time of playing, the groups were disbanded, and the students were asked for observations on what occurred. The students in the Upper Class group found that they always allocated the points to keep the lowest members in their group from being sent to the Middle Class. The members in the Lower Class reallocated their points to try and elevate their members with the highest point total into the Middle Class. The Middle Class; however, never re-allocated their points among their group, as each member attempted to move themselves into the Upper Class, while simultaneously attempting to keep themselves from being banished into the Lower Class. This particular exercise always stayed with me as an example of the competition that we seem to be with one another. Always trying to be better than someone else. I’ve never seen that to be more prevalent than it has been in today’s world of politics.
“If you vote for the third party, you’re voting for Trump!” was the cry I heard throughout the last Presidential cycle. I understand the entire statistical aspect that was being crowed in that political battle cry. But a political vote is more than just some statistical bean counting exercise. A political vote is letting your voice be heard, even when you know that voice is completely in the minority and has no statistical ability of coming out on top. Your vote isn’t a “protest” vote, as some claim. It’s a vote that expresses a perspective. But our political process here in America isn’t about expressing a view – its about winning and losing, as the campaign for President Trump so eloquently put it in his first Presidential run. Over the past few decades, our politics has devolved from a sometimes tense and terse national conversation on how to govern to angry, thinly veiled insults hurled at one side or the other. Its not about governance. Its strictly about winning and losing. And, has been the case decade after decade, our political perspective has spilled over into our everyday social lives. Are you a Trump supporter? Get off my Facebook feed. Better yet, I’ll block you. Us and them. The division goes deeper than neighborhoods where people of certain income brackets live. It goes deeper than an individual’s skin color. Or one’s religious beliefs. Yes, really. Religious beliefs. Check out the Sundays, when people of one faith go to the little (sometimes not so little) building to pray together. And then race the people of the other faiths to the local restaurants to eat with their families. Yep, the Southern Baptists are making a run for the local sit-down restaurant to fill the tables before the Catholics get there. ::smacking forehead:: What the fuck people?
As the meme goes: I’m not competing with anyone. I hope we all make it. When an emergency happens and someone needs assistance, I’m not going to start out by asking what political party they are part of. I’m not going to ask them for their COVID-19 vaccination card. I’m not going to ask what God they pray to. I’m not going to determine how much help I am going to give them based on their skin color or what clothing they are wearing. I’m going to help them to the best of my ability. Because I want all of us to make it. I want all of us to survive. My Druidry DEMANDS this of me.
Grant, O Gods, Thy Protection;https://druidry.org/druid-way/teaching-and-practice/druid-prayer-devotion
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of the Gods, and all goodness.
EXCEPT, if the individual is a Trump supporter. Right? EXCEPT, if the individual is a Right-wing Christian who wants to eradicate all others of belief that is not their own, right? EXCEPT, if the individual is the wrong skin color, right? EXCEPT, if the individual is left-handed, right? EXCEPT, if the individual is a ginger (red-head for those of you outside of Europe), right? We don’t help those people, right? We want everyone else to make it. But these folks…they can just right out lose. Because its ALL about winning and losing, right? Sorry, not in my way of thinking. And yes, I do realize that applying all of this in the way that I am doing is going to place me outside the realm “rightness” in the eyes of others. But my personal values place me here. Again, I’m not here to compete with anyone. I want us all to make it. Even those that may “hate” me.
Some may think I’m being “silly” or “unrealistic” about the way I approach this. Awesome. I have no mandate in my life or the way I approach my daily life that says that everyone MUST think or believe the way that I do. I do have a mandate in my life that says that this is the way that I believe. And I have to be true to myself. I’m tired of all the divisions that we, as a collective society, have created to separate ourselves from one another. Other can play that game. Me? I’ll be on the other side of this playground we call Life, sitting under the tree reading.