Power. Politics. People. Purpose.

While some things in life are not at all surprising, they are nevertheless quite disappointing. People are people and given the chance most will disappoint you somewhere along the way.

I don’t know that I have always accomplished this, but one thing I have tried very hard to do in life is not throw other people under the bus for my own gain. More than once I have suffered the consequences because I was not willing to sacrifice someone else. But to me, it’s worth it.

I work to protect people. As a leader especially, I feel like that’s my job. Often it would be easier to sacrifice someone else to make my own life easier. Usually it’s also what others around me would encourage me to do.

Honestly, I think I’ve only met a couple people who I could truly say I would trust with my life. By “my life” I don’t necessarily mean whether I live or die. I mean it more in the way of trusting someone to always make choices that will, to borrow from an often quoted, and sometimes misused, bible verse, “prosper me and not harm me”.

I have found, well into my adult life, that rarely will anyone stand up to a bully or abuser, even those who have the power and duty to do so. Instead they will turn a blind eye, convince themselves that it really is not all that bad or that the person who is being bullied/abused must deserve it for reason. The person being bullied/abused is often told things like:

  • Just hang in there. It will get better.
  • Maybe you should do something differently.
  • Maybe you should just give them what they want.
  • That’s just the way that person is.
  • Yeah, that person is awful aren’t they?
  • Maybe you should just leave or stay away from them.

Often when the person being bullied/abused won’t quit speaking up for themselves and/or others, the people with the power and duty to deal with the situation will eventually deal with it by punishing the person who is being bullied or abused rather than dealing with the abuser.

And the bully/abuser will continue the pattern.

Unless or until the situation becomes so bad that it can no longer be ignored.

It’s unfair. It’s unkind. It is certainly un-godly and unbiblical. But, unfortunately in my experience, it’s the norm. It is easier to accept the lies of the bully/abuser than to risk seeking out the truth.

I have come to realize recently that the thing that perhaps frustrates me the most in life is feeling powerless or seeing others feeling powerless. Bullies bully. Abusers abuse. But the thing that makes people in those situations feel the most powerless is when the ones who have the power and/or duty to help just stand by and allow it to happen.

Several months ago I watched the movie “Just Mercy” and I found myself having a visceral reaction as I watched certain characters being repeatedly put in positions where they were absolutely and utterly powerless. It was heartbreaking to watch others who could have and should have offered assistance standby, avert their eyes and do nothing…or even worse to encourage the bully/abuser. Even thinking about it right now is making me tense up and tear up.

For the past 3 years I have worked in a local government position. It is a very political environment. Sadly, it’s also an environment where bullying/abuse and back-stabbing are rampant. Even worse, these things are often encouraged. At the very least these things are often ignored, justified and tolerated.

It has made my heart sad and it has wounded my spirit greatly. Seemingly good people get so caught up in the political game that they are willing to do almost anything to make sure that “their team” wins.

This is surely not what government was meant to be. Our form of government is said to be “for the people and by the people” but having had a close up view, I’d say it is rarely for the people and almost always for the politicians. In fact, what other system do you know of where the people who make the decisions, when their decisions are challenged, are also the same people who get to decide if the right decision was made.

The goal in politics has ceased to be about doing what is best for the people. The goal has become all about doing whatever it takes to get the politician re-elected, what will allow them to gain more power and what will most benefit “their team”. I was told by a politician that “everything is political”. I laughed. Later I began to realize that he was completely serious. To him, literally everything is political. How sad.

While not all politicians operate this way, the political machine is very much one where you learn quickly that you need to become another cog on a wheel (conform) in the political machine or you’re going to get squished by all of the other cogs on the wheel. The pressure to conform is overwhelming…and disappointing.

I’d bet if you’d ask most politicians about all of this they would deny it. I’m not even sure that most can see it. I think they become so engrained in the system that they become blind to reality. Even the ones who go into politics as good people who want to do the right thing–eventually if you want to continue on as a politician you have to conform. It’s the only way to survive.

So what are “we, the people” supposed to do? Frankly, elections have consequences but most people will never really understand exactly what that means. I think most people go to vote with the mindset that in the big scheme of things who holds office has little real impact on our daily lives. It’s hard to see the repercussions of an election unless you’ve had a close up look at the inside of the political machine.

I guess my advice is this: don’t expect the politicians and the political process to bring any real good or real change to the world. Yes, sometimes good can come out of it but in my experience the good that people think has come is probably only about 10% truth. Because the general public doesn’t understand the political process they are easily deceived into believing the things that the politicians or media tell them. At this point, when I get a political flyer in my mailbox, I just assume whatever it says is 10% truth and 90% misrepresentation, false information, or outright lies.

Our political system needs a HUGE overhaul. But that’s not likely to happen because the the people who would have to agree to that are the ones who would be affected by it–the politicians. They aren’t going to vote to overhaul the system that supports their way of life and their way of thinking. The ones who do see a need for change and would vote for an overhaul usually don’t have enough political clout to make anything happen and they are probably on the verge of getting squished by the political machine because they have even dared to think differently.

For the rest of the world, those of us who don’t see literally everything as being political, the best way to affect change is to find a purpose and to love people. When you work to make your community a better place through the job you do, through volunteer efforts or just by loving your neighbors, your impact on the world is and will continue to be much greater than that of any political figure.

What is the specific issue, the problem, that wears on your soul? The thing that you have hoped politics and elected officials would eventually fix. I encourage you to stop putting your hope in the political system and instead to find ways to put your time, energy and resources in to affecting the change you want to see. Pastor and author Andy Stanley says, “do for one what you wish you could do for everyone”. Pretty solid advice I think. If you believe the world needs more great leaders, find a way to encourage and support someone you know in their efforts to become a great leader. If homelessness is the thing that breaks your heart, find a way to substantially help just one homeless person. Do you believe everyone deserves to have good healthcare? Forget about what that might mean on the national level. Figure out what might that look like in your own community? What can you do right now, today, to help make that a reality? I truly believe that really helping just one person in a very real way is far more effective and will have a far greater impact than voting people into or out of office.

Let’s talk about the issues that break your heart. Leave me a comment and tell me what is the one issue you would most like to see resolved in your community. Maybe we can brainstorm some solutions together.

And as always, I’m so thankful and humbled that you would give up some of your precious time to spend here with me. If I’ve made you laugh, made you cry, made you roll your eyes or even made you think just a little bit deeper about something, I would be thrilled if you’d share my blog on your social media.

Blessings,

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