Taking Responsibility for Myself

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Insert Obvious Statement here I think it’s safe to say that no matter where your political alliances lie the tenor of discourse leading up to and following the election generally amounts to a great big pile of shiitake mushrooms — buried under a great big pile of shit. The candidates were disgraceful, members of congress were awful, and you and me may have been the worst of all. I’d like for us to change that. And while I can’t make the changes for everyone, I can take responsibility for myself. Below is a list of things I’m changing (or continuing to abstain from) moving forward in an effort to bridge the gap between myself and others. Bottom line, this country needs to talk.

The first change I’m going to employ is to make an effort to engage public officials more often. In the past I’ve always depended on this blog or random social media updates to make my voice heard, but at the end of the day that isn’t enough (especially social media). That’s not to say I think voicing concerns publicly is a waste of time, but I know it’s not the most effective. We need to go to the people with power, and while I never have before you can rest assured that I’ll be sending letters and making phone calls when the time comes. The days of being a spectator on the sidelines are over with.

The next item I’ll continue to practice is avoiding any and all clearly biased “news” websites. For the most part I’ve done a good job of avoiding websites I feel aren’t practicing honest journalism, but there was one I’ve used over the past few years that I’m no longer interested in supporting. And I don’t care which side of the fence you’re talking about, if the bias is obvious, it’s doing all of us harm. So Huffington Post, Occupy Democrats, and whatever the right wing sites of that nature are called (I don’t know the names, but I know there are many) will be avoided at all costs from here on out. It’s all garbage propaganda that takes way too much effort to sift through when attempting to find the truth.

Similarly, I’ll continue to avoid any article with a click bait title. If one politician “owns”, “destroys”, “tears apart”, etc. another politician I have no time for it. That’s not news. It’s a soundbite and it does nothing to promote healthy discourse between disagreeing parties — especially when it’s put out there as if the only goal of politics is to make your point the loudest. You know what else I’ll be avoiding? Any article that starts off with the line “Dear White People”. I’m not saying that there can’t be valid points following those words, but they aren’t going to reach anyone that needs to hear them when you start the article off by pitting one group of people against another. It’s not effective and it’s certainly not cute anymore.

To take things a step further, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. My diet is way too low in fiber so it only makes sense I start eating the extra money I’ll be saving when the new tax rates are implemented. But seriously, when it comes to this honest journalism thing I believe it’s my responsibility to support these standout institution’s efforts. Good reporting is sparse these days making it vital that we do what we can as individuals to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere any time soon. So get a subscription.

If there is money left over after that, I’ll be looking to make donations to organizations that can fight the good fight while the new administration may be stripping funding in certain areas. Don’t let things you know benefit real humans go quietly into the night. Rage against it by giving your support to groups that have the voice to fight for you. I’ve never done this before, but it’s now or never.

Political memes? Screw them. Sure, I get that some of them are meant to create a laugh and there’s no harm that can come from them, but it’s the memes that spread actual falsehoods and continue to perpetuate divides that I’m talking about. They’re dangerous and they need to go. Spreading lies on demand doesn’t do anybody any good, even if you wish what they’re saying is true.

But what happens when other people aren’t willing to engage in the same responsible manner. Should we ignore them? No, but we all need to be mindful about how we go about it. Cussing, accusing, burying your point under 1800 lbs of sarcasm doesn’t work. It’s fun. It’s satisfying. But it’s ultimately an exercise in futility. If there’s one thing this election should have taught us it’s that people aren’t going to be embarrassed into submission any longer. So take note, make your point when necessary, and then disengage.

Lastly, let’s all stop blaming people and entities that are outside of our own personal control for everything that’s going wrong. It’s not “the media”. It’s not “the conservatives”. It’s not “the bleeding heart liberals”. It’s not “the illegal immigrants”. It’s you. It’s me. We’re the problem. We’re the solution. When was the last time you fixed a problem with your spouse by endlessly yelling back and forth? When’s the last time your spouse left a conversation happy after you pinned all the blame on them and never attempted to internalize the issue they directed back at you. Never. And this is no different. Be passionate. Fight for what you believe is right. Washington can drain the swamp. Let’s try not to fill it back up with our own filth.

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