Helping Our Leaders to Lead Us

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I have tried. I have really, really tried to sort out this election. I watched the first presidential debate, sticking through the entire thing with my jaw clenched painfully, in hope that SOMEONE would say something that would reach my heart and give me hope that ONE of these people really cared about me, my family, my financial and physical security and my health.

The faces of my children watching with me reflected the disappointment I felt. I think this was the hardest part of the debate, realizing none of my kids have passion for either political candidate because I want my children believe in our leaders. One of them said “Neither one cares about us mom. They only care about making the other person look bad.”

I missed the first VP debate so I found it on YouTube, thinking maybe there would some redemption with the potential “second in command” peeps. Sadly, the best part of this debate was the funny commercial I had to watch on YouTube before the debate started entitled “How to Poop at a Party”. This humorous advertisement for a product called Poo-Pourri with the hilarious phrase “Control the SHITtuation”  seemed a perfect slogan for the VP debates because within three minutes these men were interrupting and flinging metaphoric poo at each other. The same sick feeling rose in my stomach, though the thought did cross my mind that maybe these two might better serve us as options for the presidential slot that their running mates. It has to be pretty challenging for these two to defend their “bosses” who have both done and said enough upsetting things to have created an irrevocable sense of distrust among many, many voters.

Each of these people (presidential and vice presidential candidates) has had the opportunity to look passionately and humbly into the camera, ignore the poo slinging and say “People of America: I care about each one of you and promise to do my very best to surround myself with smart, equally caring people, who will in turn help me to help you be safe, fed, employed and treated fairly. I promise. With all I am. Amen.”

Yeah. It feels like we might all be in a little trouble.

So I’ve been trying to get my mind wrapped around how we might all carry on despite the inevitable “less than adequate” leadership coming our way and this thought keeps popping into my head:

“What if every single one of us made the commitment to make it EASIER for our leaders to lead us?”

The reality is, we are a difficult bunch to lead. In these United States of America, we have more rights than we know what to do with and many of us are so busy making sure these legally given rights are not stomped upon (insert ANY issue here) that we don’t realize (or maybe we do) that in the process we stomp upon other people’s rights. And this stomping has never been more evident than the present thanks to social media giving us all a much louder and more impactful voice. How does any leader stand a chance with such a diverse and difficult to please nation?

What if each of us stepped back from what we think we know and deserve, just for a minute, and ask our leaders, whether they be politicians, bosses, teachers, or parents “What can I do to make it easier for you to lead me and the rest of your minions?” Now I realize that is a little bit JFK “plagerism-ish” but despite the fact that the world has changed exponentially since the 1960’s, we are all still simply human, even our leaders. We need, now more than ever, to be asking what each of us can do for our country, and for our state, city, school, office and home to make this life we are are all trying to live to the best of our ability, a little bit easier, so that we aren’t all so desperate to be told by our leaders. who are ONLY human. that “everything is going to be okay”.

The reality is, it’s up to us to make things okay.

So, I’m going to pretend for a self indulgent moment that I am a presidential candidate and have been asked the question on national television by a member of the audience “What can I do to make it easier for you to lead me?”

Imagine that I am looking into the camera, which zooms in on my face, compassionate, kind and honest. (This is PRETEND. It’s like a movie people!) This is my moment to change the country for the better because what I say will be heard by MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of people who will APPLY what I say to their everyday thoughts, words and actions and I’ve only got two minutes to answer, IF I’m lucky and the person next to me doesn’t rudely interrupt my once in a lifetime opportunity. I take a deep breath and begin:

“My good and wonderful minion: this is a wonderful question, thank you! The first thing I would ask of you is to realize that I am doing my very best. All leaders on a large and small scale, from presidents to parents are doing their best. But we as human beings bring with us into this life adventure the baggage of our upbringing and our life experiences, of our successes and our failures, of our joys and our heart breaks. Not one of us begins our life thinking ‘I’m going to set out to be the worst, most heinous leader in the history of time.’ Life experiences change us and while we all truly care, sometimes we get a little lost in the chaotic shuffle. Leadership is complicated, especially for us politicians and humanity is not perfect. If it was it wouldn’t NEED leaders. We are all doing our best. If you can realize THIS about every human being, including yourself, you’ll be more apt to live in compassion, which by its very nature allows goodness to prevail.

I would ask of you to look to the person on your left and to the person on your right and recognize the following: they each have value; they are each struggling in their own way; and they each could use a helping hand. I would ask that you offer your hand and help pull the people around you out of their struggles. Do this every day. All day. Sometimes it’s as simple as a smile or a kind word. Sometimes it takes more effort in the form of your time, talent or treasure. While you can not be all things to all people, you CAN be aware of your immediate surroundings and change your small part of the world by giving of yourself in small ways. I speak to myself as much as I do to you, because it is very, very easy as humans to forget about others as we struggle in our daily lives. But if we all take the approach of giving of ourselves, of listening to our fellow man and seeking to understand what it’s like to walk in their shoes, we will in turn be met with similar kindness and compassion.

I would ask that in this age of social media and the ability to reach millions of people with the push of a button, that you consider carefully everything you publish. Ask yourself: is it kind and meaningful or is it cruel and pointless? As technology continues to advance, our social responsibility becomes more and more important.

And lastly I would ask that you to stop wastefulness in its tracks. Water, food, clothing, shelter, transportation: do not take these things for granted. Be thankful if you have them and treat these resources with great care: use what you need, share if you have extra. It’s really that simple. Resist throwing away anything that still has use for you or for someone else. We live in a country with amazing abundance. If we are each good stewards of what is available to us and give what we have but don’t need, there will always be enough. For everyone.

It is up to each and everyone one of us to keep our country strong, good and plentiful. We must each be a leader within our families, our cities and our nation. We must each be examples of kindness, compassion and good stewardship, and we must each strive to do our best so that our country will continue to be a great and honorable nation.”

This is how I would answer the question that needs to be regularly asked by us of our leaders. I realize my answer is simplistic. But maybe it really CAN be as simple as living by the golden rule and treating others as we wish to be treated. When I watch the second presidential debate tonight, I am going to do my very best to look upon these candidates from a more compassionate and less selfish perspective than I did during the first debate. The reality is WE picked these candidates and so it is our responsibility to make it easier for one of them, in all their human weakness, to lead us. They are each doing their best. And so must we.

I’d Make a Great Socialist if I Wasn’t Such a Brat: Part One

The other day, my four youngest were all kind of flopping around staring into their technology like sweaty summer sloths so I challenged them to find the presidential candidate that they liked the best and write down at least three reasons why they would vote for that person.

Their first question was “Is this for your blog?” A couple of them were frowning.

Weird.

“It might be I’m not sure. It’s just that since the GOP debate I am wondering what your thoughts are, so just be completely honest. There are a lot of candidates from multiple parties. so do your research. Just don’t pick Hillary Clinton. Bahahaha.”

At first they were all chatty and smack talkish. But then there was this delightful pause while they used their iPods, iPhones, iPads for research. Life has changed so much with technology and it can be quite fantastic when it is put to thoughtful use.  I could just feel their witty wheels turning.

My children have a lot of things to say about a lot of things. One evening we were sitting around the pool, our feet dangling in the cooling water and the conversation went from what an existential crisis was to Irish slavery to an asteroid scheduled to hit the earth in 2029 to the idea of Hillary Clinton being elected president to how many water bugs might be in the pool to should we save the bee floating toward the filter to the question ‘is all life valuable?’ and so on. Until someone splashed someone and then intelligent conversation turned into screeching and more splashing and then water got in my wine so I left. Mostly because my brain hurt and I needed to go google a few things.

I am always torn between delight and pissed-offed-ness when my children prove to be smarter than me.

But I like to think I am wiser.

I like to let them tell. And then ask questions.

So I am at LEAST more annoying than they are. Mitchel may have been wrongly accused as being the biggest “ask-hole” in the family.

Now. It was requested that I put “in verbatim” what my children wrote down about their choice for president. And so I have done this.  But I did not say that I would not comment on their words. Or make them dig deeper. SO there will be a part two to this blog when they have answered my questions. Or commented to my comments. There are no rules except that a thought out response is required.

Or else they won’t get dinner.

Dinner that their dad cooks. Just to clarify that it would be punishment.

I’m sorry my beautiful smart children. Your mother is a socialist-want-to-be who loves a good chat. And you are each up to the challenge of a brat. That rhymes!

Daniel (14) was finished first. He likes to be the fastest. His choice was Ted Cruz for the following reasons:

  1. educated from Harvard and Princeton
  2. former advisor of Domestic Policy to former President George Bush
  3. US Senator from Texas
  4. Against Planned Parenthood
  5. Appointed to four Senate committees
  6. His middle name is Rafael Edward, that’s cool
  7. He’s really funny in the debates
  8. Lastly he was born on December 22nd, three days before Jesus, that’s cool

Daniel:

  • How does an education at Harvard and Princeton make one better qualified to be president? Were you hoping to go to Harvard and Princeton? Crap. You better start mowing some lawns.
  • Which George Bush was he an advisor to?
  • What things was he “for” when it came to domestic policy? What IS domestic policy?
  • In what ways is he against planned parenthood?
  • Are you saying we should have given you a cooler middle name than Arthur?
  • I agree that one would need a sense of humor to be president. You might stand a chance even WITH a boring middle name. But you COULD change your name to Daniel Jesus Siwinski. That would be cool.  But I think you have to wait until you are 18.

David (12) was next to finish. His choice was Jeb Bush. He wrote only the required three reasons and with briefness because I am pretty sure he wanted to get back to some important game he was playing on his iPod. And that’s okay. He’s twelve. I think. David: are you twelve?

  1. Instead of dividing the country he wants to unite it
  2. Let businesses express religious freedom against gays
  3. I like the other Bush Presidents

David:

  • Do you think our country is divided? How so? What ways would Jeb Bush fix this?
  • Do you think our family is divided, considering the fact that we disagree about something every four minutes?  If so, what are some ways you would unite our family?
  • How would you rephrase number 2 to explain your thinking in a more loving and careful way but not compromise your own beliefs? 
  • Wait, were you even born when the other Bush’s were president? Why do you like them?

Maria (16) chose Rand Paul and wrote a front and back dissertation as to why. In pink pen.

  1. Helped find an anti-tax organization in his years serving Kentucky, will hopefully do the same with our country
  2. Extremely intelligent and well spoken at the debate (during the parts I saw)
  3. Strong faith
  4. Pointed out why Hillary Clinton sucks
  5. Performs well in Colorado, which is an important saving state vote against Hillary
  6. Wants to end surveillance on American citizens, in other words believes the importance of our privacy
  7. Wants to end “crony-ism” and that means wrongfully appointing friends or relatives to positions of authority
  8. Wants to reduce national debt
  9. Wants to “preserve” the social security system for seniors who have worked long and hard and planned their lives around that system
  10. Wants to repeal Obama Care
  11. Stern with the media, sometimes angry

Maria:

  • Explain the anti-tax organization in Kentucky. Do you think it is possible to fund necessary social programs without taxes??
  • In what ways does Hillary Clinton suck?
  • Wait, are we being watched right now? Should I put on some lipstick?
  • So are you saying you wouldn’t appointment me as queen of something cool when you are president? Well what the hell is the point of being your mother then?
  • How would YOU reduce our national debt?
  • Do you think there will be social security when you are at retirement age? Or will you get to retire 10 years after you are dead instead of 2 years, like me?
  • Do you think that being stern/angry with the media will harm his chances of winning in the primaries? Does stern/angry help anything?

Mitchel (10) chose Hillary Clinton. Yeah.

  1. One reason is that it would be good is because she went to Wellesly College. And because it would be cool because she could be the FIRST GIRL President!!!!
  2. Hillary Clinton is a young 67 year old Democrat and she was born on October 29, 1947. So she would be a young president.
  3. Everytime she does something in government, she talks to people about it so she can have good advice before she does it
  4. She is a former secretary of state and she was first lady at one point

Mitchel:

  • Where is Wellesly College?
  • Can you tell me three things that a “girl” would do better as president than a “boy”?
  • There is another “girl” running in the primaries. Tell me her name and how she is different from Hillary?
  • I am so GLAD you think 67 is young! Why is being young a good thing when you are president?
  • Do you think it is important to ask the RIGHT people for advice when you are making important decisions? Can you give me an example of when you asked the WRONG people for advice?
  • What does a first lady do?
  • What does a secretary of state do?
  • Which of these jobs do you think is the most interesting?

So. This is a lot to mull over for my kids and I look forward to hearing what they each have to say from their own unique perspective of place and time. Stay tuned for part two.

Or a post on life without dinner.

Either or.

I, myself, have been pondering the possibility of a utopian world where every person is able to look outside their current set of circumstances, past their own fears and hang-ups and contribute to the world with free will (it can not be forced by the government) using their time, talent and treasure, each according to his or her own ability without any kind of distinguishment between race, gender, religion, pants size, physical/mental ability, income level, hair color, sexual orientation etc.

How about we use the fact that we are all breathing as our common denominator? We all want to keep breathing right? How about for each breath we take IN we savor ourselves for who we are and when we breathe OUT we delight in all the other breaths taken in at the very moment of our selfless exhale.

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