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A Good Indignation Brings Out All Our Powers

Hamster in a wheel

Do you remember the movie “Network”? If not, check out protagonist Howard Beale’s impassioned speech from it on YouTube: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Mad as hell is how I want you to feel also, because in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A good indignation brings out all one’s powers.”

It’s time for you and me to get and stay fired up in a positive, peaceful and purposeful way, because, to be a great United States of America, we must value being governed by a principled and united leadership. Since the election of 1796, we’ve been a nation of two-party divisiveness. That was the time in our history when, as voters, we began to express allegiance to one party or the other. The elder statesmen of the American Revolution imagined the two-party system as being temporary. They failed to foresee the grip party affiliation would have on the American voting public. The result, our current nasty political atmosphere, is simply the continuation of a long tradition.

The constant battle between sides to stay in control has resulted in politicians being known as bullies, liars and casters of blame who shun personal responsibility, ego-box for sport, avoid coming to the table with feasible solutions to the issues we face and who refuse to assume accountability for their part in our stagnated system. Having fallen victim to greed and moneyed influence, deaf to the voices of the American people, they are destroying the very fabric of our democracy.  These are not the values of great, cooperative leaders, but they have become the norm in Washington because we are accepting them as the norm within our media, entertainment, dialogue and daily social interactions.  As voters, we can no longer deny our moral, ethical and spiritual accountability in the Washington politics fiasco.

In the wisdom of Rabbi Abraham Heschel, “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” We, the American people, must admit one thing and care about it: irresponsibility and apathy are our greatest weakness. We must realize the wheel of inaction and fighting to maintain control will continue to spin round and round while you and I are left, like hamsters on that wheel, to suffer the consequences of a perpetually ineffective government. For this reason, you and I must get righteously mad and join together to courageously face and defeat an out-of-control Goliath: the disgusting, irresponsible and self-centered legacy we are continuing to write with our lack of focus on being a country of well-informed, active and noble citizens.

When we, the American people, place the greatest importance on being a nation filled with educated, employed, involved, nonviolent, healthy, accepting, positive, honest and responsible people, we will thoughtfully identify public servants who bring with them proven track records as respectable leaders of outstanding, honorable resolve. To change an inoperative system, we must first fix what is faulty about ourselves by making character, not party affiliation, the most important qualification for public service.  But this requires making integrity the foundation of all that is cherished and practiced in our homes, educational and religious institutions, sports and civic organizations.

As citizens and human beings, our fundamental responsibility is to help create a country we are proud to leave our children, their children and their children. We cannot do this unless we get disgusted with allowing ourselves to continue down the same road of two-party divisiveness and nasty attack ads, fake news, dishonesty, cronyism, nepotism, bullying, greed, abuse of power, ineptitude, while expecting different results. Isn’t that a definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome?

Until we have heart and soul in Washington in the form of personal accountability, integrity, unity, honesty, transparency, competence, and humility, we are going to continue down the divisive path, making it impossible to support a mutually positive agenda to actually move ourselves or our country forward.

President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” What you and I can do for our country is to step up, by voting in ALL upcoming elections, with mindful and responsible purpose for principled candidates who, through consistent behavior, have proven themselves to be respectful, unbiased, cooperative, honest and effective, no matter their party affiliation.

To those who say this character-based, independent-voter proposal is naïve, impossible, or will not influence lasting change, one of the most freeing and powerful lessons we can learn in moving toward improvement is the benefit of challenging the status quo. Our current lack of principle-based, collaborative thinking to address what is defective about our system of government will continue to limit our ability to create a unified, living legacy of which we are morally and ethically pleased and for which we will be proudly remembered. An unwillingness to look candidly at our weaknesses only perpetuates a very dangerous and arrogant ignorance. It’s time to wake up to this.

Until we courageously move ourselves outside the box of what we tolerate as acceptable in our personal and collective behavior, we will remain blind to the fact true strength, power and clarity of purpose are only found in people of principled character. Current Washington politics and the inherent divisiveness of our two-party system are at odds with the behaviors we can truthfully label honorable.

In order to actually be an outstanding nation, we must value being a nation of outstanding people. As citizens, parents, teachers, clergy, public servants and voters, it’s time to get mad as hell so our righteous indignation moves us into valuing a shared standard of honest, transparency and principled excellence.

Albert Einstein said, “The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.” By moving away from electing politicians  to choosing servant-leaders who work for “We the People,” we will increase the pool of qualified candidates, those who have the intelligence and heart to design a new system in which compromise and efficiency bring about lasting positive change. A diverse and dedicated collection of experienced people of integrity is our best hope to end business as usual in Washington. To thrive, we must find creative, cooperative and effective ways of accomplishing this, so our great nation once again leads the world in a beneficial, peaceful and sustainable direction. But, to do so, we must first become a nation of people who stay mad as hell about growing these new leaders, by being a nation of people who most value great people of honorable character.