Since my last post in April of last year, I have been writing and involving myself in some form or other with words, but I have chosen to do it in the private forum of a journal and other projects. These alternative outlets have given me the freedom necessary to work through troubled thoughts and feelings without the worry of criticism or judgment, in hopes that the words, once I was able to spit them out via the keyboard, would enable me to confront and, therefore, understand certain truths – good, bad or indifferent – about myself and the world. These truths, in turn, would inform a personal philosophy to guide me in my way through a world that increasingly makes no sense or diverges so far from my sense of common decency that I’ve wondered if I might be losing my goddamned mind.
These days, for my sole vote to represent the sum total of my political power seems a fairly bleak prospect. Goodness knows, I don’t have enough money to buy off candidates to do my bidding, I can’t buy the amount of TV ad time that sways undecided voters to my side, and I can’t fund the kind of operations that hire people to get out the vote for their side and to suppress the vote of their opponents’ side. When up against these forces fueled by people with money and power I can’t even imagine, my vote really doesn’t amount to shit. But is it the end of the world if our votes are meaningless? Is it the end of Democracy? We’ll still be able to buy our flat-screen TVs, Happy Meals and Big Gulps, won’t we? Look, I’m not asking for much, I just want to know that my vote, which is my voice in the political arena just as my dollar is in the commercial one, MEANS something. Sure, it’s just one vote among however many (only a few thousand in my local elections), and the candidate I vote for doesn’t always win (almost never does in my local elections), but I just want to know that my vote joins with others to support a candidate who truly speaks to the issues I care about and that affect me and my family.
One thing that I am absolutely certain of in this life is that there are no guarantees of anything, and yet it never ceases to amaze (and amuse) me how we as humans work so hard to convince ourselves otherwise. When you couple this desire for certainty with our consumerist culture, well, then you have a recipe for truly delusional thinking. There’s probably a fancy psychological term for this, and author David McRaney has probably written about it in his self-effacingly humorous way, but I have made up my own term for this mindset: Inoculation Syndrome. Much like taking a shot of antibiotic or vaccine, the way Inoculation Syndrome works is that once you adopt a certain way of thinking, behaving, dressing, what have you, you render yourself immune from the pitfalls such behavior is meant to ward you against. What we fail to realize is that, as with germs and viruses that mutate and become resistant to antibiotics, the forces of life on this planet forever stymie our ability to contain, or master, them.