Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Surviving the Political Pandemic

I'm Feeling a Bit Un-Conventional in this Day and Time

When I announced on Twitter I decided to watch both political conventions, I received a few “unconventional” comments. Some friends asked why in the world I would ever want to do that.

“I want to hear everything for myself,” I messaged back.

Much can be lost when one person reports what they saw and heard. Remember the party game “telephone?”  One person whispers something in another person’s ear. It travels around the group, each participant repeating what they heard. By the time it makes full circle, it is nonsense.

That’s why I like to listen to the actual speeches and not merely the reporters, pundits, or Facebook wizards telling me what was said. 

And what it means. 

And how I should feel about it. 

I prefer to think for myself. Make my own decisions. How do I do that?

Look at the Source and Get the Whole Picture 
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms offer everyone and his brother the opportunity to chime in on everything… whether they know anything about it or not. 

If you see something posted on social media, check out the source as well as the original words or actions taken. Research the whole issue instead of one piece of it. 

Interestingly, as I was writing this, a sweet man I love and respect called to check in on me. He asked what I was doing. When I told him I watched both conventions, he asked if I saw where one party voted on “XYZ.” He was appalled. 

“I didn’t see that at all,” I told him. (I would have been appalled by it, too.)

“It was on Facebook,” he said. As he’s talking, I’m searching the internet to check it out. He’s opening up his own computer to find it again on Facebook.

“The only thing I can find about that issue was a proposal by a delegate in 2012 and it was vetoed. Big time. It received no support,” I told him.

“I have it right here,” he said. He read the headline for me. “XXX Party Votes to xyz. I’ll play it for you.” He clicks the button and plays the video at full volume. “I guess you’re right. They voted it down,” he says. “This time.”

“But wait a minute, did I hear all of people together in one room giving a verbal vote?” I ask.

“Yeah, it’s a big convention room full of people.”

“But each party's committee meetings this year were all held remotely or with only a few people in the same room.”

The other end of the line is silent for a few minutes. I hear him clicking on the computer. Listening again.

“I think you’re right,” he said. “This was in 2012.” 

If we don’t get the full picture and check the facts, it’s like the story of the blind men and the elephant. 

As the story goes, five blind men encounter an elephant. Each one explores the animal using their hands to guide them. One grasps the tail and claims the elephant is like a rope. One touches the animal’s side and says, “No, the elephant is like a wall.” The one touching the leg likens the animal to a tree, the ear is like a leaf and the trunk is compared to a large snake.

Each source is partially right. Partially. I can’t listen to bits and pieces from multiple sources and be assured I fully understand the big picture. These men are blind.

Consider the Context
Indeed. Let me offer an example here. 

Suppose I were to tell you the Bible says, “There is no God.” You would probably be shocked. Even appalled. You may become angry with me or worse than that you may go about repeating it, claiming me to be some kind of authority. Especially if I assured you it is in the Bible and I offered you the very book and chapter and verse where it’s written. 

If I put that on Facebook, I would probably be “unfriended” by a number of people I know. 

But it’s true. Check it out, which is what you should always do. But read the whole verse. Read it in the context of the entire chapter. It’s in Psalm 53:1.  Here’s the whole sentence: The fool says there is no God.”

If I didn’t watch each convention, I would only hear the excerpts others want me to hear. To make an informed decision, I needed the context. The story… the whole sentence….the big picture. And I need to see how it was used and how it applies to the good of all. Or not.

Ask Questions
Remember the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” questions you learned in school? That’s a start. 

But dig deeper. Make sure you understand the issues. What will a particular policy mean for you…or more importantly, for your children and your children’s children. What does it mean for America overall? What might be fallout or other ramifications from the proposed policy? Put it in context of the framework our founding fathers crafted. Not that everything fits, but evaluate how it works for us or against us in terms of justice, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans.

Simply put, don’t take everything at face value. Ask questions. Seek clarity. Make sure you understand what is being advocated.

Finally, Pray
You are not likely to agree with every single item on either agenda. You may find yourself at odds on certain issues with each and every candidate. No one is perfect. There are good, well-intentioned people within both parties. Look at the whole picture. 

I study the Bible daily. 
I trust God in all I do. 
And yes, I pray for guidance before I vote.

God is actually the only one who can see our future in its entirety. And I’ve read the end of the Book. I know we take many paths as we do our best to live this life, but in the end, God has the last word.

The conventions are over now. The ballots are filled. Before you head to the polls or mail in your vote, even if you didn’t watch both conventions as I did, you can still listen to the actual complete speeches made then and now on the internet. 

And remember, your vote is your own. You make your own…informed…decision. Privately. It is not subject to outside pressure or influence.

I love to hear from my readers but be aware, I will remove any negative or one-sided remarks posted in the comment section for this post.

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