2016 has been an interesting year in politics. Now let me start with the frank admission that politics represents everything I detest. I detest it because it is all about appearances rather than substance. A successful politician is one that gains praise for what they are perceived to do as opposed to what they may or may not actually do.
I think there are significant problems with democracy. I know people take democracy to be sacrosanct, but I think the problems with it are beginning to become apparent in recent elections. Every idea has it’s breaking point and I believe Brexit and Trump represent a disillusioned public voting not for a candidate or an idea, but against the established authority.
Democracy is a popularity contest for a Saviour. Let me explain…
The Problem With Democracy
Imagine if science was based on popularity, we’d ‘know’ that the earth was flat. That God made the world in 7 days and that you can judge intelligence and aptitude by feeling the bumps on someone’s head.
Instead, we know, what we know, scientifically from the accumulation of tests of what can be proven and what can’t. This has given us an enormous base of knowledge that informs us and enables us to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’.
In contrast, politics works on selling ideas. And so education, health and economic theories are sold as religious philosophies rather than scientific theories. So we go in one direction until things stop working and then when they stop working we look for a new Saviour.
This candidate points out all the problems with the previous regime and promises a solution. The people buy his solution and so all the mechanisms of government swing in a new direction. Then when his/her ideas reach a breaking point, the public look for a new Saviour. And so we waste so much time and money chopping and changing ideology across all the areas Government touches.
Why Voting Is Like Dieting
The dynamic in the way we as a society vote is very much like the way some overweight people chop and change diets. So they’ve been enjoying themselves eating, but then they can’t fit into their clothes and so they decide they’re going to do something about it.
So they decide they’re going to go on a diet. They maybe start with counting calories. Maybe they lose weight and then they say ‘Phew. Now I can go back to eating how I was.’ A year later they’re in the same situation. Or maybe they just found it too tough to give up what they’ve been enjoying and said ‘No. This diet isn’t right for me’.
So then they’re back to square one. They want to lose weight, but they don’t want a restrictive diet. So they start to follow a different diet. They really believe in this one because it means you can still eat a cake once a week or because it lets you eat as much as you like, but it’s got this magic x to it that means it’s easier for you.
The Real Difficulty In Dieting… And In Life
The reason diet and fitness is such a huge industry is because it caters to the weakness of humans in our society. We get fat because we eat too much of the wrong foods and move too little. It is as simple as that, but because we have trouble choosing between two conflicting desires…
I want that chocolate fudge cake and I want to be slim
So to resolve the conflict we complicate by trying to get different results without changing by using a ‘magic’ solutions that mean we can quite literally ‘have our cake and eat it’.
So when we start a new health regime, our faith is in the diet or exercise routine. I’m doing the Atkins Diet or the 5:2 or I’m doing Insanity or Crossfit.
I think there’s a deep-rooted reason for how we so easily put faith in someone or something other than ourselves. Life is simple. Essentially if we resisted the seven deadly sins, that would be all we’d need to do. But fuck is pride, greed and lust hard to resist. And so we struggle and to avoid the struggle we introduce excuses to justify and so we complicate life. is difficult and believing in its promise, reassures us that it’s ok we don’t have to take full responsibility. So we can choose a diet that is easier for us to follow, and if we fail it wasn’t really us, but the diet that let us down.
Change of something as fundamental as our diet is difficult and believing in its promise, reassures us that it’s ok we don’t have to take full responsibility. So we can choose a diet that is easier for us to follow, and if we fail it wasn’t really us, but the diet that let us down.
In much the same way politically, we want more money spent on health and education, but we want to pay less tax. It’s because of this fundamental inability to take the discomfort that comes with a hard choice that makes us look for a Saviour.
When The Voter Is Needy, The Saviour Will Appear
Democracy being a popularity contest means that our candidates are chosen on superficial appeal and so must have a message that appeals to average and below intelligence. The most intelligent candidate’s arguments may not be understood by the majority of the electorate and their soundbites will be ridiculed out of context. And so, as a result, we are for the most part left with candidates who can perform in the gladatorial showbiz arena with rhetoric so basic that no one could fail to understand them.
What we’re looking for is essentially like the appeal of religion… reassurance. Religion gives us a story to make sense of our meaning and a sense of certainty that if we follow these rules, our soul will be ok. In all of these fields, religion, politics, health, self-help and so on we are constantly seeking a Saviour when we are not ready to take responsibility for our own destiny.
We want someone who will bring some magic ingredient to heal the basic contradictions in our lives. I want a religion, diet, Political Leader with a magic solution so that I can carry on doing the same thing, but get a different result. It’s the basic human story that builds religious and also fairy stories. The bowl of porridge that magically refills. The Fairy Godmother. The Genie granting wishes. Jesus turning water into wine and paying for our sin.
Now science has its limits and maybe Jesus did atone for us, but my belief, admittedly based only on conjecture, is that we have to stop looking outside of ourself for solutions and start believing in our own power. We have to stop waiting for another to save us and instead make the difficult choices and accept the discomfort and adapt to what is, versus what we want to be true.
Will Your Life Really Change?
Earlier in the year, here in the UK, we had Brexit where we had to vote whether to leave the UK or not. There was lots of fear mongering from both sides about what a major impact this would have. What was most shocking was the outpouring of depressing, bitter and resigned posts on social media. Posts like ‘Thanks to everyone who voted to leave for ruining my children’s lives’.
The reality (Ok, my belief of reality admitted ;-)) is that the UK leaving the European Union isn’t going to make a huge difference in our day to day life. We will still wake up, go to work, buy from the same shops and eat in the same restaurants and do the same day to day activities.
What changes is financial and political engineering. Financial markets, and political ideas, work on confidence. Any change will cause fluctuations until confidence in the future is re-established. Fundamentally though, the UK is a strong economy with a good infrastructure. We aren’t going to change and become an outcast because we opted out of some agreements. We aren’t going to become less of an ally because we’re not officially in the club. Yes there will be changes and dips in confidence as a new system of administration is resolved, but fundamentally in the lives of most of us nothing has changed.
In the U.S. people are now demonstrating against Trump. Fundamentally the lifestyle of individuals is still the same. You wake up in the same house, do the same work with the same people. You probably never had direct involvement with any of the past Presidents and probably won’t with this one.
Do You Believe In You… Or Them?
What it does show is where people place their faith. They believe too much in the Government, in the diet and in the guru and too little in themselves. What this belief in ‘the system’ shows is that people believe what most affects them is their environment. The material things they have around them.
What really makes the most difference in your life isn’t who you vote for, what book you read or who’s advice you listen to. What matters most is the choices you make minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, year by year. Nothing has more influence over your experience than your choice in what you think, do and say. Of course, it does affect us who leads our country. It does impact us the state of our economy. These things determine the environment we operate within. They can limit us and can make our circumstances more difficult. However, the experience of life is really about how we deal with the limitations and restrictions we live within. It’s no about who can die with the most stuff… who can have the easiest or most comfortable life, but about who can best meet the challenges they faced in their life. You are the only person who has full control over your experience. Other people can influence and affect your environment, but they cannot control your experience.
There are people that live under the worst conditions and thrived. There are also people that lived in the best of conditions and suffered. What makes the most difference in your life are the fundamentals choices you make.
How do you treat and interact with others?
How evolved is your thought processing?
Where do you invest your time, attention and energy?
Are you true to what you believe in?
Life is never fair because it’s never been about fairness. If it was how could one child be born a starving orphan, while another is given every advantage an opportunity? The challenge of life is unique to each of us. We all face our own tests and trials. How we do is dependent on our choices. It’s stupid to ignore people with specialised knowledge and new ideas. We should gather as many other people’s ideas and insights, but we must never see them as more than us or let them replace our own authority.
In the end, when you take your last breaths and look back on your life, you’ll know it was you that chose who you listened to. It was you that chose your saviours and you’ll know in the end… none knew better than you for your life. The purest life is the one lived from inner wisdom, tainted as little as possible by the world.