Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm "Them"

When I was in college, I was a political science major, and I couldn't get enough of campaigns and debates. I had cable news on all the time, and I was actively engaged in whatever they were talking about.

Maybe it's because I'm a little older, or more cynical, or that I have more responsibilities, but those things that used to invigorate me now just wear me out. Particularly all the scapegoating we see going on. Everything that happens is somehow proof that whomever is speaking's agenda is correct, and any problem is always somebody else's fault.

I get that that's the game when it's one candidate or political party vs. another, but what really amazes me is when we point to things like "the economy", "the market", "the media", or "the voters". All these terms are simply the sum total of actions taken by members of the groups of which we are a part, but very few people seem to own up to their participation.

(Sidenote- the irony that the biggest ratings giant in cable news is the one who most frequently villifies "the media" is simultaneously awesome and highly depressing)

So I'll go ahead and own up to it. I'm part of "them". I'm part of the problem.

I'm part of "the economy" because I'm a middle class American that consumes way more than my share of the world's resources.

I'm part of "the market" because I'm saving for my retirement and my kids' college tuition using the stock market, with the sole goal of making money on my investment.

I'm part of "the media", not because lots of people read my blog (they don't- I'll show you the metrics), but because, like everyone else, I'm much more likely to look at a story about a sex scandal than I am one about monetary policy, famine in Africa, or someone making a positive difference in the world. Media organizations are businesses that are almost entirely dependent on ad revenue, so the more eyeballs they draw, the more money they make, and they know what we will consume.  In fact, I'm more guilty than most because, as Homer Simpson said, "I'm a white male between the ages of 18 and 45. Everyone cares what I think!"

I'm part of "the voters". I vote, even in midterm elections. I communicate my concerns to my representatives and to my best to talk about issues with others in a respectful manner. I have yet to create a sign that puts a Hitler mustache on anybody. So maybe I'm not so much part of the problem in this respect.

I try very hard to be part of the solution, but at the same time I continue to be part of the problem. Perhaps if we spent more time examining our own role in large, complex problems, and less time pointing fingers at the list of usual suspects, we might make some progress in solving them.

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