Saturday, November 3, 2012

Armageddon cometh? I think not.

Well, it has been an eventful week.  In my own personal life, it probably measures up to be more eventful than the week to come with the election that will not die. 

First and happiest of all, my best friend had her baby.  It was a little earlier than I expected, but everything went well and I got to hold a less-than-24-hour-old baby for the first time in probably 25 years. 

The less happy part of my week was finally getting a decision from the lender on my short sale.  Unfortunately, due to the slight rise in housing values over the past few months, the appraised value of my property is higher than the offer I have had in place since August.  In normal circumstances, this is not a problem.  But in a short sale, it means that the lender figures that they could get more money from a sale and will not accept a lower offer.  So my deal has essentially fallen through and I am back to square one.

It is frustrating to be sure and more than a little disappointing.  It puts all of my future financial plans on hold and means that I will likely have to continue to drive up and maintain my property throughout the lovely winter months. 

Based on what I have observed in the media and through Facebook, a lot of people in my situation would attempt to blame this problem on the government.  They would even go so far as to try and blame the president.  But I am not that stupid.  I am well aware that I bought my house at the height of the inflated housing market (in 2004) and that within two years, I was already starting to notice a decline in value.

This brings me to a topic that I have felt like avoiding, but I sense that I cannot and probably should not ignore.  The election.

I am certain that no matter what side of the fence you fall, you are more than ready for this whole "season" to be over.  It truly brings out the worst in people.  The more I see, the more I truly believe that we are living in a warped reality.  Politicians and their employees, along with the media on ALL sides of the argument throw such ludicrous and inaccurate "information" around that we are all becoming actively dumber by the second. 

Have problems in your life?  Don't worry about taking personal ownership of them, just blame it on the president, Congress, rich people, poor people, or just the "government."  Don't stop for reflection, don't consider the forces at work that are truly beyond the control of any one person or entity.  But it is always most certainly the fault of somebody else.  Heaven forbid you ever made a poor choice in your life.

There is so much finger-pointing and character bashing that by the time Election Day actually rolls around, we are exhausted by the toll that the bombardment of negativity brings to our daily lives.  We are encouraged to blame someone, and the advertisements would have us believe that it should be directed at the person that they want their candidate to beat. 

As a trained but not practicing librarian, I am a strong supporter of fact-checking.  When someone makes a claim that involves statistics, verify it.  If they haven't cited a source, be suspicious.  The information could be misleading, imaginary or at the very least out-of-date.  No opponent will willingly point out anything positive about the other.

In the end, I have to say that American politics has become a bit like professional sports.  It devolves into "teams" and an "us against them" mentality.  Most people do not stop to consider the distinction between entertainment and reality.  Whoever wins the game improves their record or simply wins a title.  Whoever wins an election is then called upon to serve their constituency.   

NOTE:  Not just the people who voted for them; SERVE their ENTIRE CONSTITUENCY.  SERVE.  As in they are to work for US.  That includes you, but it also includes me.  And that weird person next door.  And the people living in the mansions.  And the people living in the street.  Both gay and straight people.  All religions and races.  All genders.  All ages.

So when you get wrapped up and worked up about who you do and don't like, take a minute to step back and think about what is really important.  Not just to you, but to everyone else who lives here as well.  Are your opinions based in reality, or have you become a cog in the media-machine?  Is your anger righteous or self-centered?  Are you throwing your own religious beliefs out to govern those who do not share them?  What would you think if something like that happened to you?

I will step away from my podium now and end with an exhortation to exercise your right to vote.  And no matter who "wins" on Tuesday, remember that we are all in this together.  This country belongs to all of us and we all have a right to be heard.  We do not have to agree, but we need to understand that we are the sum of all of our diverse parts.

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