We Should Experience That On Which We Opine

This post is fully attributed to Paul Schiefer. Paul is a friend of a friend of a friend on Facebook and this found its way circuitous way to me.  Being one of those who really jumped in the fray on Facebook election night, I found reading this to be a very grounding experience. It is highly non-political and serves only to help us establish a sense of perspective – something many of us (I include myself) might have relinquished in the days leading to and following the election – if even temporarily.
I do not know Paul Schiefer so at this time the only way I can give credit is to provide his name.  Mr. Schiefer, if this finds its way to you and  you wish your on-line identity be known for any reason such as to drive traffic to any blog or website, please comment to this and I will quickly promote it.  Thank you!
For democracy to work, we need to learn the facts through real experience. Listening to the barrage of opinionated pundits on either side does nothing but turn politics into a reality show with winner, losers, and hurt feelings. We are rapidly moving to a world where we find the facts or news we want to justify our opinion rather than developing opinions through objective facts and listening to many points of view. Government policy may be boring, but without knowledge we can only succumb to the brainwashing of people who are paid to tell us what to think or at best become influenced by our friends, faiths, and identities. Your president will likely never have a beer with you – so forget if you like him or not. What we need are leaders that have the knowledge, work ethic, and intelligence to manage the hardest job in the world. Their religion, race, gender, wealth, and orientation have nothing to do with that.
But above and beyond all – we need to strive to learn objectively and through experience. Policies and government is very complicated, you can’t explain them in a few talking points or a political speech. If you are curious about healthcare, talk to some doctors and nurses and ask them if it is working ok today and what they think of reform. If you want to know what is causing poverty, go work in a shelter or be a big brother/little sister to someone from a low income neighbourhood and determine for yourself if they are lazy or something else may be contributing. Think you don’t need gov’t? Spend some time in India or Mexico and see what a corrupt laissez faire gov’t feels like. Go to China and see what a one party rule feels like too. Are you worried about European-style socialism? Go to Sweden or Germany and experience a public sector that takes care of people effectively and then talk to all the small businesses in those countries that are flourishing through this recession and out competing many of ours. Then go to Spain and see that it isn’t all the same. Do you think high speed trains are a terrible idea? Try one out while you are in Germany and decide if you want to go back to spending all that extra time in airports or in traffic. Are you uncertain if a new business can succeed in the US with all this regulation today? Go to silicon valley and ask some entrepreneurs who are making millions through hard work and innovation. Wonder why we are all getting fat? Go check out our food system – see what people are eating and learn how agriculture is subsided and how your tax dollars are paying for the ingredients to make cheaper cheeseburgers. Are you confused if the globe is actually getting warming? Go talk to some scientists who have spent their whole lives studying it or head to Greenland and ask the locals how much the ice has changed. Do you think Wall Street is the problem? Go ask some bankers how bad the economy was and then go talk to some mortgage brokers and ask if it was really honest what happened there? Do you think there is no consequence to excess debt and government entitlements? Go to Greece and see what happens when a country spend more than it can earn. Are you sure immigrants are hurting our country? Learn about all the immigrants that start businesses, see who the brightest PhD’s are today, or even spend a day picking strawberries and see what you think. Research your own family tree and figure out when your family immigrated here themselves. Do you wonder why the middle east hates us? Read some history books and learn what the west has done to that region in pursuit of cheap oil and ask yourself what would you do if the same thing was done to you and your family. None of these issues needs to be partisan at all – they are humanly created and can be humanly solved.
I hope the lesson in this election, is that we become responsible for our own education. We turn off the endless partisan chatter, stop with the doomsday predictions in both directions, and quit making politics so personal. It’s not about winners and loser but about making our country and ourselves great. Let’s start by being personally responsible for our own lives – it’s way too easy to blame Obama or the Republicans for everything we aren’t happy with rather than take some ownership to fix what we can. Once we do that, let’s get educated. Then we can move to a place where we can debate informed decisions like rational adults, because this current trend of emotional hatred over our different opinions – most based on very little knowledge and experience – will never solve any of our real problems and will forever compromise the great American experiment. Plus I am sick of hearing it on my FB feed!
After living in Europe for 3 years, I have had the rare opportunity to watch my country from afar. What I have learned from the experience is that while we have amazing innovation, culture, music, and people in the US, we also have some of the most dysfunctional and overly emotional politics. And we certainly don’t have an exclusive hold on the right ideas – there are many great people, cultures, political systems, and businesses that are distinctly not American. We are not entitled to anything because we were born in the USA. And furthermore, the world is also getting ready to kick our ass at our own capitalistic game because they feel they deserve the same lifestyle we enjoy and are working their hardest to make it happen. All we seem to want to do about it is either fight, deny, or complain our way to a solution. We can do much better than that as a country. We can be the leaders for the future with a strong economy and a strong social fabric, but only if we gain some maturity in how we decide our joint future together and put in some hard work along the way. I look forward to coming home soon and I hope, for everyones sake, that we enter into a post partisan phase quickly and not let this divisive election further hamper our ability to express our greatest potential.
Thank you again Paul Schiefer and thank you all for reading.
Have a Great Day!
Matt G.

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