I have never been interested in politics and have been disgracefully under-informed about current events. I had a basic awareness of what was going on in the world so I wasn’t completely ignorant but, I usually tried to avoid the news because it depressed me or made me feel anxious about things over which I felt I had no control. I know a lot of people feel the same way or are just too busy working, taking care of their families, paying bills, etc., to have the time and energy to pay attention. The only time I really paid attention was during presidential elections because I am an independent voter and I always try to make an informed vote based on who I think the best person is for the job. I have a deep appreciation for our right to vote and for how hard so many people fought so that we – especially women and minorities – could have that right. So, as I have in the past, I started paying more attention to politics during the last few months as the presidential campaign gained momentum. This time something truly amazing has happened – I almost feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience or talking about another person – as I began to pay more attention I actually became interested in politics and world events and concerned about the direction in which my country is headed. I certainly didn’t see that coming! For the first time in my life I have a political sign on my front lawn! I feel like Rip Van Winkle – I just woke up from a long sleep, looked around, and said “What the hell is going on?”
I’m not going to share my opinions about politics or either candidate because that’s not what this is about. This is about another leg of my reinvention journey – a renewed love and appreciation for my country and the freedom I have taken for granted for most of my life. I’ve talked before about how reinvention can occur in response to small everyday things or to big life changing events – how we can consciously take action to cause or create reinvention or we can experience reinvention as a reaction to something that we experience. I’ve noticed in the past how things can converge to create a catalyst in my life that leads me in a new direction and this recent journey is no different. One of the great things about reinvention is that I am allowing my interests and instincts to lead me and I’m as surprised as anyone by some of the directions they take me. My time is no longer consumed by projects, assignments, tasks and deadlines imposed upon me by job responsibilities or the priorities of others so I can follow whatever signs are presented to me but I want to continue to encourage everyone to think about how reinvention applies in their own lives. The opportunities to learn, change, grow and make the most of the life you have are everywhere. There are hidden depths to your own personality that you have not yet explored.
Two things converged to create my most recent catalyst – a renewed interest in American history and my effort to inform myself about the upcoming election. The first element of my catalyst is an interesting and thought-provoking history class I have been taking, one that compares the “accepted” versions of events in history as reported by the media and our leaders to information that has been discovered by investigative journalists, historical scholars, and average people who have questioned “history”. The term “conspiracy theory” has, unfortunately, become a joke but, if you think about it, doesn’t a good investigative reporter uncover the truth by researching the “facts” of a story to see if they stand up to scrutiny? Isn’t that person looking for a conspiracy that might have been created to hide the truth? Looking back over just the past 50 years of history I think we have plenty of reasons to question information that is provided to us by the media and our government officials.
The second element of my catalyst is an effort to become better informed about current events. I decided to approach this as a “self-study” program which involves watching two news programs every night; one a “liberal” perspective and one a “conservative” perspective. For a person who typically avoided the news this has been overwhelming! I had no bias toward either perspective but I have been astonished by the amount of information that is not reported on the “liberal” program and also by the lack of real investigation of the information they do report on, especially information coming from government officials. I have come to the conclusion that it really is up to us to make an effort to educate ourselves and figure out what we want to believe. Thankfully, the Internet is still a place of free speech!
This catalyst has awakened in me a renewed sense of what a wonderful country we have and an awareness of how many of us – and I used to be in that group – take it for granted. We think it will always be there and nothing will change our basic freedoms but, that isn’t true. Recently I have been reading the Constitution of the United States of America, something I haven’t done since high school, and I have been struck by the beauty of the words and what care our Founding Fathers took with them. I strongly encourage everyone to read it, even if you think you already know it. As Americans, two of our most important rights are freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Without free speech, you couldn’t read my words right now and then have the right to voice your opinion about them. Without freedom of religion, you would be either forced to follow one state supported religion or not be allowed to have religion at all. I have heard people make lots of stupid, offensive and obnoxious statements that angered me or that I didn’t agree with, but I will always defend their right to say them. My recent self-study program has made me realize that our First Amendment rights are under a real threat and I, for one, will do whatever I can to protect them because once we lose them we are DONE.
As frightening and confusing as world events can be, one positive thought to remember is that each of us has the power and freedom to influence the direction in which our country goes. We can voice our opinions, we can peacefully protest, we can remind our elected officials that they work for us and let them know when we don’t think they are doing a good job. And, perhaps most importantly, we can vote them out of office!
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