An Alternate Route

Photo by Alexandre Perotto

If you’re anything like me, you find yourself caught up in the news, the turmoil, the frenzied pace of life.

You find yourself believing you have to back this candidate or that. Who most aligns with my beliefs? My views? My interests? Who do my friends support? My family? What will my peers think of my political leanings?

I find myself listening to the news, and then distilling it down to a child’s understanding to make sure my kids are apprised of the current issues in the world.

This is what responsible adults do…right? My peers do it. They get up in arms about this issue or that. It’s what you’re supposed to do…to be a responsible American. Exercise your rights: your right to vote, to declare a party, to fight for liberty and take your part in the government.

I hate the idea of complaining without offering up solutions. What should I do then?

Well, I need to declare my opinion, my party and my beliefs to the world. I need to research the candidates in depth. I need to know their stances, beliefs and plans and where I stand in relation. I need to know the local, national and international issues affecting our world and decide where to set up my camp. I need to stay abreast of the ever-changing climate, ready at a moment’s notice to do my civic duty and stand strong for my viewpoint.

Then, I need to take part in the government. I need to call my representatives to inform them of my views and support them. If there’s something I believe needs to change, I have to let them know. I need to share my reasoning with others, start a petition with many signatures, build a movement and then cooperate with supportive representatives and politicians. I need endorsements. I need to push bills into development, rally sympathy and build momentum to get change implemented.

And then die. (A little dramatic I know but this stuff takes a long time, especially while working a day job to feed your family.)

Do you know anyone who does all of those things? I don’t. How could they? I don’t have the time, or honestly, the devotion.

But this is my responsibility. Right?

And then it happened…

I was watching a documentary with my son, Bigger than T-Rex if you’re interested. My son is a HUGE dinosaur fan. Paleontologists would be impressed at his knowledge base. But that’s beside the point.

In this documentary, the main character is scientist about my age from Germany I believe. He is on this whirlwind adventure to find a lost skeleton of a rare dinosaur and he travels from Germany to Chicago to Morocco and spoiler alert, he actually does it.

He is all about it. That’s his sole desire.

I found myself wondering what his political views are. What does he think about the EU refugee crisis? The Greek financial issues? The US Presidential Race? And then this realization hit me: He doesn’t care. He cares about dinosaurs…not only that, but this one, particular skeleton.

This doctor, who’s paid his dues, is highly educated and uniquely qualified to pursue scientific knowledge and share his findings with the world…is his cause any less noble than trying to do your civic duty?

It’s not.

I believed the lie of media, politics and news that I need to care about what they say I should care about.*

I don’t.

Right then, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

It sounds silly, but in that moment I remembered that I can follow what I’m interested in and clear out the mental and emotional space that doesn’t align with those interests.


*I can’t presume to know their motivation, though I suspect it’s to keep the mass of people distracted and sewn into the hem of consumerism.