My last post, "Vote, Damn It," generated some complaints that I was being too harsh, that I was "in pain," and that the non-voters should be treated with more gentleness and respect.
I am not "in pain" so much as angry. And anyone who is not angry about the
situation the world finds itself in today is not really paying attention, or
perhaps does not care.
Now we must parse words, and also definitions. Is anger always a "negative"
emotion? It can be, especially when it comes to rage, an extreme form of anger,
or when anger is allowed to fester. But we learn from those who have carefully
considered and written about the "passions" that anger can be, in fact, a very
productive emotion... because it often prompts to action. Sometimes it is very
appropriate to be angry. Sometimes, if you are not angry about a particular
thing, there is something lacking in you; you may, in fact, be unconscious
and/or uncaring. You might ask yourself, where would America be if a contingent
of colonists didn't get really angry around 1776?
There is a saying, "The Truth will set you free. But first it will piss you
I'm angry that a certain class of extremely un-virtuous persons in this world
have managed to screw it up for the vast majority of us. And they wish to
continue to do it. They wish to continue perpetrating the very same ideology and
policy that has always thwarted liberty, equality, justice and fairness. And
they will lie and cheat and manipulate to do it. These people are bullies and
pirates and assassins, assaulting the human family and our precious planet. An
election is coming up next year that will determine to what extent they will be
able to continue getting away with their crimes.
I do not accept that we - the collective - can do nothing about it. I do not
accept that I - an individual - can do nothing about it. In fact we have a
wonderful tool for effecting change: it's called democracy. So I have accepted
my responsibility, to myself, and to the collective, to fight back, to make a
better world. In the cultural wars, and in the war to save the planet, I am not
a victim, or a bystander, I am a warrior.
Yes, I use the terminology of war and violence because this is a war, and it is
violent. The people we are up against are thoughtless, careless and sometimes
uber-violent. Though my methods are non-violent and virtuous, that does not
preclude whacking them as hard as I can with my most potent weapons... words and
And in rallying our side, like any warrior, I exhort my fellows to action, to
arete, which means our most virtuous self: including our inner hero. It is
intentionally non-diplomatic. Diplomacy, making deals with the devil, got us
into this mess. Diplomacy by its nature is uninspiring. Again, I use words,
pointed words, motivation by sharp rebuke for those who have heretofore shirked
their reponsibilities to themselves and their friends and family. It's intended
as a slap. Snap out of your stupor. Earn your respect. Get your act together and
help the cause.
Now, it's not like I'm asking them to sharpen their sword and physically go to
war. I'm not even asking them to volunteer to help a campaign. I'm just asking
them to get off their duffs and VOTE.
Yet they still carp and whine, and say, "Oh, you ask too much of me, and you
don't ask nicely, you hurt my feelings." So they have come up with yet more
excuses. It is these excuses that hold them down, and this behavior that
commands disrespect of themselves, and from others.
I don't think it's low self-esteem for most not-voters as it is plain old
laziness and apathy. Yet those who wish to psychoanalyze themselves, or others,
and allow such excuses are playing into the hands of the oppposition, and so are
actually highly counter-productive. The weak, slackers, the self-absorbed who do
not vote, and those who coddle and enable them, actually aid the opposition;
they vote for their oppressors and the destroyers of the world. And the cycle of
feeling bad about themselves is not broken, perhaps it is even worsed by one who
is aware at some level that they, again, failed in their responsibilities.
And, so I have in part accomplished my mission. This message is not a personal
message; it is a social message. It is not to someone; it is to everyone. I have
brought forth the issue. I have stimulated spirited conversation. I have made
the call to arms. I have raised the hackles of some. Good! Get mad. Get mad at
me. Get mad at something! Be passionate, damn it! Live with passion! Allow your
anger to arise and be channeled into something productive.
Conversely, if I had asked so very nicely for people to vote, it would have been
a typical post that no one really bothers to notice, and little if any
conversation. Of course, such a "nicecy-nice" post could hardly have ventured
into the primary thrust of my message: you have a RESPONSIBILITY to vote. And I
am not asking politely, I'm demanding that you stop shirking that reponsibility.
It affects me when you don't vote! It affects the entire country when you don't
vote. You may have the right to screw yourself, but you don't have the right to
screw me, or the community, or nation, or planet.
You know, I hear that in Australia, if you don't vote, you are fined. That's the
right approach. I'd love to see that here in America, too. In this country you
are fined for lots of things when you shirk your responsibility. Run a stop
sign: fine. Leave garbarge in your yard: fine. Don't bring your library book
back on time: fine. Don't pay your taxes: big fine. But strangely, we are not
fined if we blow off our biggest civic reponsibility: voting. Of course, the
opposition would hate to see required voting because they feast on non-voters.
Voting is a sacred responsibility. And there is NO good excuse for not doing it.
Yes, GASS is all about support. Having conversations like this is spot-on with
regard to its mission. Very important ways GASS can support its members is by
stimulating conscious thought and action, and by not acting as enabler of their
adharma, their avidya, their non-virtuousness. Psychology clearly informs us
that the best way to higher self-esteem is through a framework that emphasizes
discipline and responsibility. So a supporting person or group that is trying to
encourage higher levels of self-esteem will provide a caring but firm
scaffolding for that development. That includes, to some degree, a sense of high
expectation, which is fundamental for enlightened growth.
In demanding that people vote, we are not demanding that they heal themselves of
all their afflictions. We are not asking much at all. Just vote. And see how you
feel afterwards. If you have not been a voter, then by voting you have
transformed yourself, for the better. You will feel better. You are taking
responsibility. You are helping yourself and others. You have broken a pattern
of laziness and apathy. And who knows where that transformation will lead.