Beyond your experiences...
Making choices that affect more than your own agenda
Making decisions that coincide with your belief system may come naturally for some of today's voters. There are voters who will dig in deep and be unyielding in their commitment to a cause, a concern, or a law that supports their belief system. Others might consider their personal experiences, life decisions, and the experiences of those with whom they share similar values. There are other voters who will weigh the consequences of the votes they cast in a effort to consider the overall benefits versus risks to their communities. There are a few dangers that need to be addressed. When it comes to being a conscientious voter, it is important to consider the efficacy of laws that promote an "all or nothing" approach. It is no secret that some politicians and groups are promoting an agenda that is seen as a panacea for what is labeled as "this is what's wrong with society." That is a very dangerous place to set up camp.
Dangerous "Camps" for Voters
1. Generalizations - When you group every person/concern/ideology into one category and assume that you've covered your bases, you promote a concept that has less to do with the overall good and well-being of individuals versus your own ego. Stereotypes, labels, and comparisons with one-sided opinions create a divisive perspective, whereby camps are set up on opposing teams. When this happens, nothing gets accomplished, except more name-calling, labeling, judging, and "holier-than-thou" platitudes being whipped into a frenzy. Generalizations rarely sway voters. But they do promote a false sense of righteousness.
2. Assumptions - When voters take statements, comments, or observations out of context, there is a risk of misunderstandings. It's easy to cherry pick something that is seen or heard, and form an idea that conforms to our belief system. To comprehend the nuances of language and observations takes more than a knee-jerk reaction, and requires a ton of discernment. Fact checking is critical when determining whether or not something can be applied to your voting process. Here again, watch out for that ego boost that comes from assumptions main fuel...validation. Clear you head of that adrenaline rush. If you skip this step, then the assumptions, combined with generalizations, will be your undoing.
3. Righteous Indignation - It's hard to hear that your opinions or political points of view have been challenged. It takes a mature person to consider differing sides of an argument. Remaining calm and free of name-calling and labeling is a huge accomplishment for any voter. As soon as you write or speak in a bitter manner, show your temper, and demonstrate less than charitable behaviors in the name of religion, that is when you've already lost your fight. It is discouraging to see so many posts claiming "christian" values that resort to generalizations, assumptions, and righteous indignation with a hint of cruelty. I do not claim to be an expert in theology by any means, yet I am sure there is nothing in christianity to validate the level of contempt toward others that has been recently on display.
4. Expectations - When we place our hopes in a human or a human made agenda, there is always a risk of disappointment. Humans are prone to mistakes and failures. We are each human and none of us can claim perfection. Each person is (hopefully) a work in progress. Being "in progress" implies there is a dynamic flow of information, understanding, education, and ability to assimilate what is being provided to us. None of us reaches the same level of "dynamic flow" at the same time. This is both amazing and frustrating at the same time. It is not a simple process when this "dynamic flow" arrives during an election year. There will be differing views, experiences, and levels of acceptance with regard to each point that needs to be considered during our vote. While we may not agree with others, it is important for us to remember that each human represents the sum of their life experiences thus far. Yelling, name-calling, generalizing, and assuming will not change those things. What will matter is our ability to be compassionate, see beyond our limited life experiences, and contemplate what we can do to create improved systems for those who are marginalized, minimized, and discriminated against.
Finally, please remember that just because you haven't experienced a situation doesn't mean someone else hasn't struggled with it. Being human means we are responsible for our own behaviors and histories. It means we care about our communities and those who are experiencing hardships. It is not our job to assume someone's intent. And it is very important that we maintain the separation of church and state. Regardless of our belief systems, some decisions need to remain between the individual and their creator. You do not have a floor seat to their game of life. That has already been reserved...and you're not invited. Focus on your personal relationships, make them stronger, and let's all stop pointing out other people's flaws to avoid dealing with our own. Please vote.
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