I checked Facebook the morning after the election and it was post after post of voting woes. Then I looked away from my phone and saw my 19 month old son playing happy as can be without a care in the world. He doesn’t care who won the election, he probably doesn’t know there was an election, nor what an election is.
I’m reminded of a football playoff game 15 years ago. I had been a season ticket holder for several years, I was super excited about the game, had rented an RV and camped out the night before. When they lost I was devastated and cried in the parking lot.
Why give my joy to some event that I have no control over?
After I sobered up and had some time to reflect I had this thought – why do I get so worked up about the outcome of a game? Over the next year I decided I wasn’t going to do that to myself anymore. I gave up my season tickets and stopped watching football altogether.
What I noticed right away was seeing how other people acted after “their” team won or lost. Their mood would be high or low, often in a very dramatic way, like bipolar behavior is portrayed in movies. The interesting part for me was that I had no idea who won or lost, or that there even was a game. The outcome had absolutely zero effect on me.
Eye of the storm
My football experiment happened in the same time period as 9/11 and the war on terror. The morning of September 11, 2001 I was out surfing when the Twin Towers were hit, I was completely cut off from any news media. One surfer mentioned something about a plane and I assumed he was referring to the local small airport.
When I got home and turned on the TV news I was shocked, and at the same time a part of me was aware of how peaceful it is to be away from that kind of programming. Over the next year or so I realized that by following the news cycle and caring who wins or loses elections I was doing the same thing I did with football.
I was giving my power to a story playing in my mind.
This story said that good or bad things would happen to me if some politician won or lost an election. So I decided to put this story the test, I stopped following the news and politics, and stopped voting and participating in anything political.
Turns out my story was a big fat lie. I quickly knew as little to nothing about American politics as I did about politics in Albania or Sri Lanka. As the elections came and went my life and how I felt was unaffected by who won or lost. I realized the truth, that what other people do or don’t do has no control over me, I had reclaimed my power.
What about the issues I care about? Great question. Did any of my political voting ever change or improve the issues I am passionate about? Absolutely not, more often they were made worse. So what to do? How about voting in a way that actually makes a difference? A vote that I can see daily measurable improvement? A vote that I have control over the outcome? Abso-friggin-lutely.
Another word for how I vote is choice: I make daily choices that are in line with my values and create the world I want to see.
Let’s say the issue is GMO, I can buy NON-GMO or GMO food depending what I value.
Oil and gas – I can choose to drive a gas guzzler or ride my electric bike.
Clean beaches and seas – I pick up trash when I go to the beach and do my best to not buy the single use pieces of plastic that I often find on the beach.
Taxes – I can pay as much as I want or set up a legal tax shelter to pay the minimum.
Racism – I can be a racist jerk and forward racist content, or I can be mindful that we are all one and all our blood is red and our bones are white.
Farming and Ranching – I can buy or organically grow my own vegetables and eat wild pasture raised eggs, dairy, and meat, or I could buy the ecosystem destroying mono-crop produce and CAFO meat that is in most supermarkets.
Construction and home repair – the majority of the products at big box hardware stores are made of toxic stuff and produced in an unsustainable way. There are clean renewable ways to build, proven time tested ways that have been used for thousands of years.