One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned in blame rarely solves any argument. Instead, the process should concentrate on solving the underlying problem, not so much the feelings associated with it. When you solve the underlying problem, often it solves the hurt feelings at the same time.
Take for example, a recent blog post where a mom found out her son’s soccer competitors (age 7, mind) were trash talking and insulting the opposing players families. Take the recent case where neighbors, mad at a lady who lived next door, posted just awful and unkind pictures of the woman’s dead daughter and her dying 7 year old grandchild on Facebook. The level of general meanness and aggression is getting out of control, and its led by the divisive politics going on as well. I just heard yet another politician going on and on about tax breaks and incentives and all sorts of things, and guess what? This is a distraction.
I am an entrepreneur. I have created my own job out of whole cloth. I have not taken anyone else’s job- I’ve made my own. And never once, in this whole time, did I say “I’ll only do this work if there are the proper tax rebates or incentives in place for me to do so.” Not once. While I have avoided taking office space in Wilmington within the City because the local business licensing laws are almost impossible to decipher and the local folks seem to be able to offer little guidance on how to help me comply, this is, in part, laziness on my part and I prefer to keep my eye focused currently on my day to day business rather than fight bureaucracy.
You know what? I may not love paying taxes, or licensing fees and the like, but I feel lucky that I can and I do. I think it’s an opportunity to give back to my community. My money goes to help schools, old people, the sick and the poor without having to go and do so person by person myself. It keeps the roads maintained and safe for myself and my kids, as well as everyone else we know. While I may not agree with every decision the politicians make or how they use the money all the time, I vote, so I had my say in their hiring decision, and I have to trust that they will use my money wisely. And I have to trust that almost everyone goes to work in the morning, trying to do their best, not looking to do the worst job in the world and get fired. Likewise, I hope my clients, colleagues and spouse assume the same about me. That while I will undoubtedly make mistakes and be less than perfect, I do try to do my best every day. When I disappoint someone else, I disappoint myself far more.
Taxes are an opportunity to contribute to a group project- our local, state and federal government. It’s far from perfect, but burning it down or spending time looking at things like taxes as being evil is a red herring. No matter who is in the White House or State House, taxes and shared responsibility for our society is part of the deal we have here. It’s so when you fall on hard times, you reap the benefits from when you did better. It’s so you don’t have to spend all your time worrying about whether your air or water or food resources are safe- we pay taxes to make sure there are folks who do that for us. Hopefully they understand their job is necessary and they protect other folks when they do it well, and people downstream get harmed and can eve die when they do it poorly.
We’re in this together, people. Teaching our kids that insulting others is the way to gain an edge from age 7 on is really ridiculous. Adults that engage in cyber-bullying of a dying child is about the most outrageous, shameful act I can imagine. This sense of out of control demeaning of others reminds me of the ludicrous fear-mongering going on in politics. You may not agree with your opponent, and you may have serious philosophical differences, but in the end, one of you is going to be elected, and the conversation then cannot be about you and what you want, but what the people who elected you want. How are you going to help that poor Grandma? How are you going to be a good role model for those seven year olds? How are you going to inspire people to trust that you and the government are looking out for their best interests and not lining your own pockets, if that’s what you’ve taught the electorate to think about politicians during your own campaign?
We need to take it down a notch (or twelve.) That’s why the Rally to restore Sanity is not all that silly, but actually serious. We have to believe the vast majority of Americans just want to get through the day, doing the best they can, and hoping that the contributions they make make their corner of the world just a little bit better. The Rally to Restore Sanity has already raised over $54,000 to help the upkeep on our National Mall, showing that a little bit of help from a lot of people can go a long way to keeping our national shared space intact. Can’t we all decide to work together a bit more on a daily basis and not look at taxes and our obligations to vote and participate as citizens as burdens, but instead as privileges people die for around the world?
Let’s try counting our blessings every once in a while. And let’s try to remember that the day after the election, there’s still a lot of work to be done, and any bridges you burned getting there, you’re gonna have to fix once your in office. Be careful with those matches.