America needs to regroup and walk a mile. The politics of over-reaction have come to dominate both the cable news and political landscape in this country. Just when I thought Obama’s style might slow the growing tide of divisiveness and “politics of fear,” the opposite has occurred. Everything is a crisis – housing, healthcare, the economy, education and Wall St. We’re no longer using homey clichés like “when life hands you lemons…” or “every challenge is an opportunity,” but rather the more grandiose phrases like “this is a turning point in history.” Granted Obama’s campaign added to the politics of “the moment,” but I think we need to realize that not every issue is tettering between America’s failure and salvation.
Obviously, this isn’t just politically. The Biggest Loser, Extreme Makeover and The Bachelor all suggest a message that you can change everything about yourself, your life or your world in 6 weeks or less. Life’s just not that easy. Without getting too personal, a few months after college graduation I was tipping the scales at 300 lbs. It was then that I saw a picture of myself, was too embarrassed for words, and agreed (with the help of a friend) to run a 10-mile race. As a former athlete I didn’t mind the hard work or discipline but I knew it would still be torture. The first day, I couldn’t even jog and was forced to walk a mile.
America needs to start by walking a mile.
Eventually, I trained and finished the 10 miler on my way to losing 70 lbs. I’m telling you this in the interest of long-term discipline and measured expectations. I could never have begun the process by freaking out and trying to lose 70 lbs in a week. In America, we’re taught to do everything bigger and better. We try to do everything to the extreme – quicker, higher or “larger than life.” We’re unwilling as a culture, country or as politicians to walk a mile.
We spent 25 years cultivating ever-increasing expectations and making promises about wealth and security. Now that it’s turning out to have backfired on a global stage, it hurts and people are angry. However, I don’t think the solution is to change our whole system or implement some extreme countermeasure. We need to regain our sense (I’d say common sense but there’s too many blogs and podcasts already claiming to the last stand of common sense). We can do something to improve our lives while preparing for the future. And it doesn’t involve “impeaching the President,” overthrowing the government, becoming “socialists,” or using government to take-over/bail-out any entity which isn’t popular in the press. We could walk a mile (and maybe watch what we eat too).
America’s waking up with a hangover and claiming “I’m never going to drink again.” When it’s much more appropriate and successful to instead say, “I’m going to watch how many drinks I have and make sure to have some food and water along the way so that this doesn’t happen again.” Too much too hope for? Perhaps. I don’t understand why we’re not capable, as a collective, to think the way an individual or family might.
Our politicians and The Parties have convinced themselves that the only way to get attention and fund raise is the politics of fear and overreaction. Thus, here we are. Fueled by cable news and fundraising. I’m not asking for Democrats and Republicans to dismiss their core beliefs and suddenly sit down like the Biblical lion and lamb, and that’s just the thing. Somehow the two parties working together on policy has become akin to the second coming of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t need to be. Why not agree to figure out solutions to our problems? Bargain, compromise, and negotiate. But don’t pretend that the next press conference or a certain piece of legislation is the end to democracy and life, as we know it. We can do this one step at a time and slowly get back in shape. But you’ve got to start somewhere. Let’s all walk the mile.