"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better."
And here is another article by Russell Bishop that I like very much...
Election Anxiety: Advice from Abraham Lincoln by Russell Bishop
By the time the votes are tabulated and our choice for President is confirmed, we will find ourselves standing at a critical fork in the road, one that leads either to a precipice from which we leap to our own demise, or forward a towering mountain beyond which lies a verdant field of promise. The choice will be yours, mine and our neighbors.
As I found myself concerned about this election and its implications, I turned to Abraham Lincoln for inspiration. Most of us know that Lincoln was a Republican, one who guided us from a troubling past of slavery into a future that seems very much upon us. His guidance from the past seems ever current today.
Please consider these eloquent words and join in creating a future in which we can all grow and prosper.
On the need to unite:
"With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds."
"A house divided against itself cannot stand."
As we move forward from the election, uniting for the common good will be critical, both for the well being of us as individuals, and more so for the well being of the country. Clearly, we need to support one another, to comfort one another, and to align ourselves in the restoration of good works from which and for which all will benefit.
"Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
Surely, neither the McCain nor Obama camps are trying to do harm to the nation, the people or to the world at large. They clearly disagree mightily about the right and proper course. Can we not find a way to align in service to common good, to respectfully disagree, and address the negatives of the world without having to add negativity in the process? We need to step past the animus, the name calling, and join together to improve this country and well being of all of our citizens.
"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
Could we please stop with the insults, the outrageous accusations, and outright lies? Just today I watched an interview of voters in Texas proclaiming Barack Obama to be a socialist, a Muslim, and a friend to terrorists. Even worse, robocalls are circulating today in Pennsylvania accusing Barack of activities basically supporting domestic terrorism. Could we please stop circulating this kind of trash talk? Even if you think Barack Obama or John McCain is a "dog", at least let us be clear that he is of the four legged variety.
And in case you don't like someone from the other side, consider this advice from President Lincoln:
"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better."
I sure hope everyone is listening! Could you be the person others dislike? Are you someone else's "jerk?" I am not a fan of John McCain the politician; however, I have no doubt that he is a fine human being, one who cares and cares deeply. I can easily disagree with his approach without having to vilify him.
I once commented that very few parents spend late night hours trying to figure out how to screw up their kids, despite what their kids may have to say about them. The same is true for both the McCain and Obama camps - no matter what you think of their politics or policies, neither is spending any time whatsoever trying to make things worse.
On America as leader in the free world:
"Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure."
"My dreams is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth."
I sure hope we are listening here. We have seen enough of self-serving excuses to use war as an economic tool or the lever to force upon others that which we deem to be in their best interest. Could we please lead by example rather than force? Protection and defense are one thing, aggression based on deception is quite another.
As we move forward from this election, I sincerely hope our new President shares Lincoln's dream and will craft policies intended to inspire, to lead, and to ensure equal treatment for all.
On fixing the current political, social and financial crisis:
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
Don't we need to spend a few hours figuring out how to fix the current mess without rushing into ill conceived "plans" that can be usurped as easily as the plans that created the current mess?
"Republicans are for both the man and the dollar, but in case of conflict the man before the dollar."
Knowing that Lincoln was a Republican, you have to wonder if and how things could have changed so much. Can we find our way back to valuing people more highly than financial gain?
"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."
"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow be evading it today."
Every politician I have heard in the last couple of decades waxes poetic, with a bit of fire and brimstone thrown in when talking about mortgaging our future and shackling our children's children with insurmountable debt and financial problems. And then they seem to heap more kindling on the fire. Hopefully, our new President will heed Mr. Lincoln's advice and lead us into a new era of responsibility, accountability, and integrity. Please!
On leading us into the future:
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
Could whomever wins office today have the courage and character to address that which is for the common good, to look after the many rather than the few, and restore a sense of dignity and pride to who we are as a nation?
"He has the right to criticize, who has heart to help."
Nearly one hundred years later, Sidney J. Harris said, "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."
May we all have wisdom to unite, the courage to face the future, and the heart to help.
Election Anxiety: What to Do if the "Other Side" Wins by Russell Bishop
Are you stressing out over the election that is just around the corner? I mean, it's bad enough that we have this economic tsunami crashing around us every day, and now we are about to endure what could be a seismic election impact.
What if McCain-Palin somehow pull the rabbit out of the hat? What happens if Obama-Biden win in a landslide?
So what if we do get the "other" folks in office? How will you be affected? What can you do about it? This question applies no matter who you think the wrong choice might be, McCain-Palin or Obama-Biden.
Part of the fear, anxiety and consternation that seem to dog us every day now around the issues of the economy, this goofy war in Iraq, and the prospects of a sharply divided society all come back to a favorite theme of mine: the difference between independence and freedom.
Most people I have worked with over the years like to think of themselves as independent. I don't mean independent as a political term, but more of independence as a state of being of self sufficiency. Do you like to think of yourself as independent? I know I did until I got the difference between independence and freedom.
My theory is people proclaim independence, thinking they are claiming freedom, and, in the process, actually forfeit their true freedom in favor of apparent independence. Think about how often independence is proclaimed by someone who is clearly angry and you will get a glimmer of the freedom-independence difference I am writing about.
So, if you consider yourself to be independent, try this little test: do you make your own clothes? Do you raise your cotton? Anyone make your own sewing needles? You get the drift - just about all of us are dependent on others for a wide variety of life's necessities ranging from jobs to clothes.
About the only time any of us get worked up about our problems with being dependent on one another is when our set of expectations get threatened by someone else. Enter the election and the current economic meltdown.
The top couple of percent are worried about losing some of their excess, while those in the middle and lower brackets are worried about losing somewhere between a little and everything if the other ticket gets elected. Some have already lost a lot.
The real tragedy has nothing to do with lost bank accounts, homes, jobs, and the like. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that losing these kinds of things is a non-event. I lived in my car while in college after my dad died so I have some sense of what it is like to be at or near the bottom of the economic ladder.
The lesson here is more about freedom than it is about independence. Would you be willing to substitute the word freedom, or being free, for independence? Do you like to think of yourself as free, of having freedom? One definition for freedom might have something to do with the freedom to chose who you wish to be, truly independent of what others might want you to be.
Are you sacrificing your freedom to choose who you are because of something that happens around you or something that happens to you? Would you be any less free depending on which political party prevails?
So what do I mean by 'Freedom?' I am referring to true Freedom. The only Freedom that you have 100% control over. The only Freedom that no one can take away from you. Perhaps the best way to understand the concept, and more importantly, the power of the difference, is to consider the life of Victor Frankl.
Victor Frank was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist working in pre-World War II Vienna, helping troubled people who were considered suicidal. His work was incredibly successful and caught the attention of some prominent thinkers in Germany.
As the war grew, he wound up being deported to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp, along with his wife and parents. They were quickly separated and sent to different camps. Frankl himself was transferred to several, including Auschwitz and Turkheim (near Dachau). All of his family members, except his sister who escaped, died in one of the concentration camps.
On his arrival at Theresienstadt, he was selected to live, rather than be immediately executed. Once that decision was made, he was sent to the "showers" where he was stripped, completely shaved and clothed in prison garb that intentionally was the wrong size (large people were given clothes way too small, while small people were given clothes way too big). He quickly reasoned that the process was intended to strip the individual of any sense of being, importance or relevance.
Next up, the Nazi's gathered up his huge collection of research, records and writings, and burned his life's work in front of him. From there, he endured all manner of cruelty and inhumanity, including various forms of physical suffering and torture.
Along the way, as he struggled to maintain his sense of self and his dignity, he came to formulate some compelling thoughts and bits of awareness, which together allowed him to live, and to exude a dignity that the Nazi's could not extinguish.
For Frankl, the critical realization came as yet another indignity was forced upon him. That realization was about freedom. The simple yet powerful realization, goes like this: "Freedom is that place in time just after they do something to me, and just before I choose my response."
The following are some quotes from Victor Frankl's seminal work, Man's Search for Meaning, which was published in 1946, after his long ordeal in the various concentration camps:
"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."
"Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
As we move through the coming days and months of unsteady economic challenges and the prospects of a difficult election, I encourage you to remember that as bad as you think one party or the other might be, no one will be off to concentration camps even if they do get elected.
Follow Frankl's advice: think about where you are headed in your life, what experiences you are having, and what choices you can make about them. How could you choose freedom even in the worst of circumstances: How could you change yourself?
Allow me to leave you with a famous quote from Alexander Solzenitzen: "If you were to put the world to rights, with whom would you begin? Yourself or others?"
When looking for some old pictures recently, I ran across a little binder I used to carry around with me many years ago. In it were my favorite quotes of the time. Ones that inspired me or just made me smile or think a bit. Here is a page from the binder. One of my favorite quotes on this page is the second from the bottom. I remember writing that one down - probably thirty years ago. Sometimes I think I live too much in the present, but I don't know how to be any other way. And since I live in the present I figure if I want to be happy, I'd better be happy right now. I still like that quote a lot.
It is better to light candles than to curse the darkness. It is better to plant seeds than to accuse the earth. The world needs all of our power and love and energy, and each of us has something that we can give. The trick is to find it and use it, to find it and give it away. So there will always be more. We can be lights for each other, and through each others' illumination we will see the way. Each of us is a seed, a silent promise and it is always spring.