Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The United States' Ugly Divorce ... and the remarriage to follow

I haven't written in a while; since May to be exact. There's been stuff. Personal. Professional. Malaise has set in. A funk. I'd been blaming it on that "stuff," but now I have a more layered theory. You see, I'm not the only one with it. I'm not the only one who is distracted, maybe a little less energetic than usual, maybe a bit mopey, perhaps even pessimistic. Nope. There's a collective energy in the United States and it's down in the dumps.

I believe it has to do at least in part with our country's marriage to W. After 8 long years of marriage, now we're in the midst of a messy separation. Our housing is getting pulled out from under us. Our money is disappearing. Just when we thought it couldn't possibly get any uglier, our boss lays us off.

The thing is, though -- and what truly concerns me most -- is that we're already looking to a new spouse/partner/lover/significant other to save us; to make it all better. Regardless of our political preference, both candidates have been elevated to savior-like status relative to fixing the current state of funk in the United States. For many voters, there's that belief that once a new president is in place (i.e.: the divorce has been finalized), the malaise will be lifted, order restored, and money will be back in our pockets. I think this hope is particularly true in regard to those of us who are voting for Obama. In fact, many are outright afraid of the potential state of things to come if he is not elected.

Yet what if he is elected? The remarriage will be quick, instantaneous in fact, as the divorce from W. in January is finalized and Obama is sworn in just moments later. Remember, this has been an ugly, ugly separation. We've lost money, housing, and our pride, not to mention important friendships or friendly relations with other countries. I think many of us believe that the new marriage will make it all better. Yet it doesn't work that way. Any professional in the field of divorce knows that people are bound to repeat old patterns in new relationships, particularly if they re-marry quickly on the heels of a fresh -- and ugly -- divorce.

So we need to do ourselves and the new president a favor. We need to dig deep and consider what WE may have contributed to the current state of things in this country. Okay, yeah, sure W. certainly messed up a whole heck of a lot but didn't we make individual choices along the way? Any marriage is based on dynamics and patterns of interaction. Everyone brings baggage into that. How can we prevent that baggage from carrying over into the new presidency? If we don't consider this, we're bound to repeat at least some of the same mistakes we made in our last marriage. We did make choices. We can't pretend we didn't.

So let's remain hopeful about the positive ways in which a new president could lift this country, yet let's also take control of our own destiny. Yeah, there's "stuff" happening. It's hard to fight the funk right now. But neither Obama, nor McCain, could ever do it alone. We all want to feel better, but first we need to take a close look at the individual choices we've made that got us here. Then we need to put on our dancing shoes, our funky (rather than funk) music, with a smile and a nod for every single neighbor, family member, friend, and stranger who crosses our path because sometimes doing happy is the only way to make it be.

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