Closer to the Heart

“And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones to start
To mould a new reality
Closer to the heart…” ~Rush

 Election time is just around the corner. There has been endless debate and division, even amongst members of the same political party, ever since Bush’s first dubious election. I know where I stand when it comes to politics, and I respect everyone’s right to their own opinion. As Voltaire once said, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.”  

I believe that sentiment, but I also believe that far too many of us Americans don’t take an active enough role in our government. Apathetic or frustrated citizens end up not voting, and that is one of the biggest tools we have when it comes to properly maintaining our government. Keeping ourselves aware and informed is the only other element that can really rival that one.  

So, that’s why, in part, I’m here today. To encourage everyone who might read this to take action, be informed, and most importantly..to Vote. Here is the link where you can find the state rep in your area: http://www.house.gov/writerep/ Once you’ve found your representative, you can look at just about anything they’ve said or done during their tenure. Look at their voting record. No matter what a politician says, you can read a better approximation of the truth of what they really believe by looking at their voting record. Look for discrepancies. Does your Rep vocally stand up for gun control, but their record show that they consistantly vote down on gun control laws?

We, as citizens of this country, need to know these sorts of things to make informed decisions and then enforce our decisions with our votes.  Just prior to the last presidential election year, our family moved in the month of October, and high on my list of priorities was registering to vote in my new district. Life being what it is, I didn’t actually get around to doing that until around February or March. Much to my chagrin, I was informed some weeks after registering that while I would be reregistered in my new district, I would have to return to the most recent area where I was last registered to vote for this upcoming election! I angrily buried this mailing in our filing system, so am afraid I can’t give you direct quotes or stated reasons for this. Traditionally, we have always had up til two months prior to an election to register.  

If memory serves, the mailing I received said that a ‘cut off’ date had been instituted that year. Possibly coming under the ever popular ‘Patriot’ act. ~rolls eyes~ I can no longer remember if this was just for people who had recently moved, new voters or all voters. Sorry, you’ll have to find that out on your own. Regardless, the whole thing just smells rank to me, and I would hate for anyone else to be discouraged from voting in any election by such underhanded bureaucratic tripe. So, here are a few of my favorite quotes about government, politics, and related thoughts to entertain you or get you thinking about the importance of maintaining our government, voting, citizen awarenes, war and related topics…

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt  

“In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die, and the choices that we make are ultimately our responsibility.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt  

“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.” ~George Bernard Shaw  

It is our choice. Even if we choose not to make a choice, that is a choice, and we always have to live with the consequences of our actions. Far too often nowadays, I hear people say things like, “It doesn’t matter. I’m only one person and no one will ever hear me, let alone listen.” So untrue! One person can change the world just by living what they believe, and you never know when one small, seemingly insignificant act could make a huge difference to someone else. If so many ordinary citizens feel as if they aren’t being heard and can’t make a difference when it comes to something as important as our government…doesn’t that scream “Something’s Wrong!”?

  Voltaire once said, “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” and that’s true. People in power don’t like criticism and each one has their own way of dealing with such things. Some more extreme than others perhaps, but it can be a very real concern to average citizens who already feel small and powerless. Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t as big of a cynic as dear Voltaire, but she was very practical. She said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.” So true, no matter how you apply it to your life, and wise words to live by.  

“Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.” ~”Chronicle of Young Satan” Mark Twain  

“I asked Tom if countries always apologized when they had done wrong, and he says–“Yes; the little ones does.” ~ Tom Sawyer Abroad  

“Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.”~ from More Maxims of Mark, (Mark Twain)  

“All war must be just the killing of strangers against whom you feel no personal animosity; strangers whom, in other circumstances, you would help if you found them in trouble, and who would help you if you needed it.” – “The Private History of the Campaign That Failed”  

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. ” ~Voltaire  

You would think that after the Vietnam protests, we would have learned something, yet there is still that sentiment running through society that you can not be a good, patriotic citizen if you don’t support a war or warlike movement being made by your country. Wrong, people. Anyone can support and sympathize with the men and women of our armed forces without agreeing with the choices and actions of the people in power who put the armed forces where they are.  

We have been at war for years now. Men and women have died on both sides here, armed forces and innocents alike. I encourage everyone not to allow the ‘enemy’ to be dehumanized in your eyes. Don’t allow yourself to become complacent at the expense of sacrifices made by members of our own forces either, and don’t condemn others for speaking out against something they believe in their hearts to be wrong. We should be questioning these actions that are costing lives, money, and our standing with other nations, just to name a few things of priceless value.  

The oft repeated line, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, attributed to George Santayana, springs to mind. Yet Gerda Lerner has also said, “What we do about history matters. The often repeated saying that those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them has a lot of truth in it. But what are ‘the lessons of history’? The very attempt at definition furnishes ground for new conflicts. History is not a recipe book; past events are never replicated in the present in quite the same way. Historical events are infinitely variable and their interpretations are a constantly shifting process. There are no certainties to be found in the past.

Which bears noting and some serious pondering. For it is also true that, “Every great man has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes the biography.” ~Oscar Wilde Clever man, Wilde, I would just love to sit down to a meal with this fella and listen to him talk! The point, however, is be aware, insist on answers, and take everything with a grain of salt, eh?  

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty.” Ben Franklin  

It is easy to loose sight of one goal, idea, or ideal. Life is chaotic and overwhelming, I know this too. Yet I watched with amazement as people who were firmly anti-Bush suddenly change their tune after 9/11. Why? Fear. Fear is the mind killer, the little death, and if we give in to it…we can end up in some very bad places indeed! All the way through the long tunnel of history, I could hear these words from founding father, Ben Franklin, as I saw people blindly accepting decisions that were taking away freedoms. It was, and still is, extremely chilling. Which leads me to this thought…  

“Wanting to rule as opposed to being willing to govern is evidence of a diseased mind.” Joel Rosenburg. Basically, anyone who actually wants the job, is therefore suspect. lol, Yeah, sounds about right to me! You’d have to be nuts to want such a job. I have long been of the opinion that the real problem with the people we are electing, is that they are all politicians. A politician’s main concern is either getting re-elected or staying in office. To do that, they must ‘sell’ themselves to the voting audience. How can you trust someone who’s main efforts are directed toward selling themselves?   

“Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then–we elected them.” Lily Tomlin, she is one witty lady, and I thought it was about time we had a laugh. :) Just a few more thoughts on Democracy though and then I’ll wrap it up, promise.  

“Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.” H. L. Mencken  

“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Sir Winston Churchill  

Ours isn’t the only form of government, nor is it the best. It happens to be the framework we have in place though, and if we aren’t going to change the frame, I’m thinking it’s about time we nailed those sagging corners back into place instead of just slapping a new coat of paint on it. The movie, “The American President” had a lot of important things to say when it comes to politics and government, and it still managed to be an entertaining film. The idealism it displayed may have been too drippy for some, but perhaps the most memorable quote from this work is still with me today…  

Lewis: “People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”  

President Andrew Shepherd: “Lewis, we’ve had presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink the sand because they don’t know the difference.”  

Know the difference, my friends. Don’t be lead by fear, don’t be lead blindly, in fact- don’t be lead at all. There is a difference between being inspired and being lead. Be inspired. We should be the ones leading our appointed government, guiding them towards the choices we want to see in effect. We are the ones who must mold that new reality, using not just our intellect but wisdom and compassion have a place in our choices as well.   “Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” James Thurber  

So, be aware, and educate yourselves if you haven’t already so you can make informed decisions. Most importantly, whatever political party you follow get out there and vote this year. We, the People, need to find our voice again. We need make ourselves heard in no uncertain terms. If the percentage of citizens who are unhappy with how our government has been behaving were to insist on change in one voice, the percentage who are in the power seats might actually return to doing the job they were put there for! I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. I’m tired of all the harping about parties when everyone the media pushes in front of us is a member of the same party… Career Politician. I refuse to drink sand ever again, and I encourage you to choose a new beverage as well… See you at the polls!

One last thought to ponder…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUdZnxtKR2A

About the Author ()

I have been writing online, in one form or another, for about a decade. Some of my other haunts include...http://www.epinions.com/user-quinnelaine http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/member/QuinnElaine/ http://www.associatedconten

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