I don’t follow sports – especially politics – but I do like the movies. Personally, I see the entire newspaper as a giant sports report. We have the financial sports, geo-political sports, who out-lived whom sports, oh, and yeah, sports sports. While I do admire solo sports – I think solo sports represent the honing of one’s mettle and soul towards the aim of being the best you can possibly be, as opposed to competitive sports where the goal is to be named the best in the world as proved by the whopping of others. You can be the best in the world yet not achieve the best you can be. I believe solo sports to be a growth path and competitive sports to being a narcissistic beauty pageant. I am an avid avoider of competitive sports. I must say that the current election cycle is the dark winter of my discontent. My leanings are what they are – and are largely irrelevant to the “Olympic semi-finals” with which we are now bombarded. The conflation of so many other issues come into this Herculean pre-election sporting competition; that they distort a clear view of the character of the speakers.
Today, I saw an article about the need for pilot privacy laws to be loosened as a result of the now nearly one year anniversary of the German Wings jackass’s suicide – talk about lagging the pack. There is the Apple versus the FBI bout soon to begin in a pre-main event ring – along with an article earlier this week that quoted Snowden as saying that the NSA could easily break the encryption of the iPhone by doing something called capping. Apparently (to this writer, a techno-cursed idiot), the NSA could easily keep resetting the chip that counts the attempts to enter a password before destroying the data. Again, I may have just butchered the technical details – but the bottom line remained the same. If that is so, (and I pretty much buy that Snowden would know) then what really is going on is a personal and corporate privacy versus public security debate.
It seems to this popcorn munching , hot dog engorged, not very enamored with stadium beer observer that we are now in a MMA death match between individual liberties, corporate intellectual property, the public’s security, and the individual narcissists running to be “the most powerful person on Earth.”
Despite the simple sound bites candidates are want to reduce things to; this debate requires more than a fourth grade vocabulary and more that a fourth grade “black and white” interpretation of the issues. Though palatable when one spoon-feeds an electorate it is playing to the least common denominator: in this case: fear.
As a friend of mine for over 50 years (who has had quite a high level career in the Senate) has said to me: “You can’t judge a politician by what they say but, rather, by what they do.” And, he is correct. However, I believe we could judge a STATESMAN by what they say (as I naively imagine, that by definition, a statesman’s words and action would be congruent). Sadly, I think the last statesman disappeared when CNN installed cameras in every candidate’s bathroom. I think Statesmen are like global solo sportspersons. They work to make the best government possible while politicians play to beat everyone else for narcissistic personal gain. They use their talking points the way a pole vaulter uses a pole. All we have now are politicians constantly campaigning for their next election, even the day after winning the last one.
Besides bringing this political couch potato to his feet, this realization also brings me to the movies. Back in 1983 there was a movie of a Stephen King book: The Dead Zone. In that movie, a candidate that appealed to the masses much in the way of Donald Trump, launched what was becoming an eerily similar phenomenon to what is happening today. Now, I am not a spoiler of movies for those unfamiliar. All I can say is rent it (I believe Netflix only has the DVD). The Donald Trump character is played by Martin Sheen and the protagonist by Cristopher Walken (If for no other reason it is worth seeing as it is probably the first and last time – at least to my memory- that Christopher Walken played a sympathetic character).
The short recap I am willing to give, is that Walken’s character is awakened after being in a coma for some odd years. He wakes with a “gift” by which he can see events in the near future of those with whom he literally comes in contact. As the story would have it, he comes in contact with Sheen’s Trump character and has a vision I fear is prescient for our times.
Let me first say, I do not endorse the end of the story. However, the message is timely and scary. Narcissists, though often appealing, on some levels, when they find the spotlight, generally don’t do well when the curtain comes down.
This all leads me to the conclusion that we are, each, by default, tasked with being the states-persons of our time. Just like social media has changed our private lives, the equivalent overexposure by the media has changed the lay of the land such that there are no more statesmen.
As a therapist, when I work with couples, I often find and point out that the problem is that they are fighting to win and not fighting to make things better. Until that idea is digested and incorporated into discussions, nobody wins and nothing gets better. And that, as I see it is, in a nutshell, is the problem in the world of the competitive sport known as politics.
Another very wise friend of mine once said to me that as far as she could see, the best one could ask of a person in life was to leave the people and places they came in contact with a little better than they found them. It is a simple yet profound guiding principle. We, the people, are the states-persons of our time, not the politicians. We, alone, can make the world a better place. One by one, states-person by states-person. Let’s all strive to fill that simple yet immensely difficult dictum; try to leave each person and place we come in contact with a little better than we met them. Let’s fight to be our personal best and not fight for the narcissistic goal of winning.