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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 29 November 2013

Political Crossroads

Many politic folk will tell you they love campaigns.  They love the tension, the combat, the uncertainty, the bond that is only formed between human beings when they miss sleep, food, family and the world beyond and man the trenches together.

I don't believe that.

I think that hardened political operatives are a bit like life-sentence prisoners - the darkened sliver of landscape they inhabit becomes their whole world; to contemplate life beyond is frightening.  

In politics, as in war, you know who your enemy is; you do not question that your cause, which is defeating the enemy at least as much as ensuring your side emerges victorious, is just.  

You will forgo the niceties, the entitlements of civilized life because you know there's an end-game in play, it's just a question of who crosses the line first.  

Under conditions such as these, it's only natural to ignore a social convention or two yourself to stay ahead.

It's when you make this rationalization that your tether to the true world becomes undone.

Political people use the language of war all the time - trenches, veterans, War Rooms.  They feel as soldiers do, that they have been part of a decisive, barbaric conflict; they have witnessed the Heart of Darkness up close and been scarred by the horrors they saw.  They feel some bond of fellowship with their fellow political warriors - for who else really knows what darkness lies within the hearts of men?
It's not a pretty truth; in fact, it's something the rest of the civilized world must not be exposed to, for to know what cost democracy comes at would surely break their spirit.  

They're not political, after all.  

They don't understand what's out there, what must be kept at bay by the actions, however unsavoury, of people like us.

But none of this is true.

Politics is a drug and campaigns are an addiction - a powerful one - as powerful as war, though nowhere near as consequential.  People who crave the combat of politics do so because they have lost comfort with stability.

They can confabulate (or spin) rationalizations for their aggressive, competitive, destructive inclinations, but that's all it is; a self-justification for taking another hit of election.

Politics isn't war - the stakes aren't anywhere near as high as the spin doctors tell us, or tell themselves. 

When war is your business, you will find ways to wage it, just so you can feel purpose again.  And so political operatives the world over manufacture conflict, create divisions and dry the kindling of democracy, creating the conditions from which real wars are sparked.  

They do this simply because they can't see the social consequences that stem from their addictions, and because for them, the fog of war has obscured any other path.

It's this darkened, polarized viewpoint that has led us to the crossroads at which society now stands.

Despite their best intentions, political people have flamed the cynicism of the masses; now we're all at the front, calling for confrontation.

There are, as in any good contest, only two choices before us:

One is conflict, a sounding of trumpets and a clashing of swords that will leave nothing but regret and lost innocence in its wake.  From the ashes of failure will humanity be resown, as it has many times before.

The other is the path of collaboration; tearing down the walls, seeking common ground, building shared solutions out of the remnants of what came before.  

You can't see this path through the fog of war; it takes leaders with vision to show people the way forward.

One of these is the path least followed.  The other is circuitous, leading us in the fullness of time back to where we stand today.

We have no leaders at present, no men nor women of vision.  There is no one to guide us to the path that leads beyond.  

Where we go next is a choice left to you.

That's what we hold on to.

There is good in this world, after all - and that, not a cause, not an individual, is worth fighting for.

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