Whats Up With That? - Katy Byrne


Election hairball – or is it just me?

By the time you read this, the election will be over (or will it?)  I don’t know what the outcome will be. But one thing I do know is that if we, the people, don’t speak up, we’re in doo-doo much deeper than any argument about downtown doggie-doo.

I worry about the world. The globe’s overwhelmed with problems. How can this election save us, unless we the people speak up?

I listened to folks all month with different views of the elections. The one thing most agreed on was this is a scary time. I looked for a television, while in Nevada, to watch the debates. I finally found one in a rustic restaurant. Most places said, “We won’t show the debates.We don’t want fights.”

When I finally sat down I bellowed, “This woman is a great moderator.” A young waitress, maybe about 21, glided by, citing statistics about women through history emerging into leadership. Thrilled, I asked how she knew so much. She straightened her back, “I study history.”

On the other hand, I heard some ask, “What debate?” Many people commented on the politician’s body language and who was smirking most.

Sometimes statistics flew back and forth like snowballs. Some of those emotional hairballs still stick in my throat. Of course, I thought my insights were right, but I tried to listen while my eyes bobbed out of my head. I felt a little crazy by this point. Is it just me?

One man said he didn’t get involved with politics — his life was about spirituality. I asked questions, his neck turning red. He fired facts from the Far Right. My hair frizzing like Frankenstein’s Bride, I mumbled, “What happened to “spiritual?”

One woman said her 40-year marriage was on the rocks over the debates, even her dog was stressed. Other friends rushed home with kids, relying on TV for information or family to figure out how to vote.

Zillions of dollars tossed about but who knows what will become of us all? Who to believe? We need to ensure that the ones “in power” truly care about the people, the earth, the animals. Will we take responsibility for change? How?

I say: Do something, anything, don’t just lay back and complain. No matter what you think, there’s still going to be a thick hairball in our guts. It’s hard to hear arguments about Medicare when you’re over 60. I’m anxious watching two men make choices about birth control and taxes. What’s up with that?

From studying depression, I know that the path towards thriving is participation. Michael Moore, controversial film maker said: “Do something, anything, but don’t remain silent. Not now. This is the moment. It won’t come again.”

Bill Bradley, three-term Senator from New Jersey said:  “Only the people can free our government … and put the country on the path to renewal. In the internet age, apathy should not be an option.” Staying on the ball is our responsibility.

Half the time we take our information from media or our family roots. Pulling my hair this month, I was comforted reading an article by Susan Lamont, writer for Sonoma County Peace Press:

“Each side must understand and acknowledge the flaws and uncertainties in its certainties. It’s not an honest conversation until that happens. I’m not sure I’ve ever taken part in a conversation like that. It would be long and it would be hard and full of those rabbit holes from which we ask facilitators to pull back…. Are these conversations even possible? This would mean there are no easy answers – not yours, not mine. This would be real work… something harder than we’ve ever tried. We’ve spent too much time promising people a rose garden.”

Here on the big ball we still have freedom of speech. We’d better use it before we lose it. Conversations with courage aren’t easy. How do we insure ourselves of safety and the principles of the constitution? Will we, the people, get engaged or just stay enraged?

Katy Byrne, MFT, is the author of “The Courage to Speak Up: (Getting Your Hairballs Out).”

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