Take me out to the ball game, Take me out to the crowds,
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks, I don’t care if I never get back…
The Affordable Care Act. The Patriot Act. Roe vs. Wade. The Second Amendment. The Pledge of Allegiance.
Powerful phrases, controversial. Emotions rise. Immediately, we man our positions. For or against. Support or repeal. We arm ourselves with our defenses; key phrases, philosophies, histories, statistics that support one of the two offered choices.
Do you believe in the right to choose?
Does that mean, according to one’s chosen political party, that one can choose abortions, but not guns? Or does that mean, according to the opposing political party, that one can choose guns, but not abortions? Does the right to choose mean that one can choose whom to marry? Or does that mean one can choose where her tax dollars are spent? Does choice mean that one must, as her civic duty, choose at the ballot box one of two offered politicians to dictate the limits of her sovereignty?
Upon closer, honest inspection, none of these issues have much to do with real choice. In the context of Roe v Wade, “choice” is just a word, used by a certain political party, to label the act of abortion. Guns, however, are linked to the word ‘death‘, by that same political party. Could we reverse that? Could we say gun ownership is a choice and abortion is death? My purpose here is not to argue the issue of gun ownership or abortion. My purpose is to show that depending on one’s personal beliefs, labels are changed to mold the underlying issue to make it as palatable or as repulsive as possible, again depending on wether I am ‘for’ or ‘against’.
How about the right to choose whom one marries? Isn’t that a choice? A certain political party, priding itself in freedom of the individual and especially in the “right to choose” on gun ownership, would like to dictate appropriate marital choices.
I do not see much CHOICE here at all. I see two opposing positions, trying to impose their beliefs on each other. It’s a war for control, not freedom. Freedom and choice, in this country, are being actively destroyed, and we are doing it to each other. We have taken our lead from our supposed public servants, who have taught us the fine art of two false choices. Here are some that come to mind:
Are you a patriot willing to sacrifice privacy for your freedom, or do you choose privacy over fighting terrorists?
Do you support the war and our troops, or do you not support the war and our troops?
Do you support the Affordable Care Act or do you not support healthcare for all Americans?
It is the law. Don’t you support the law? Are you not a law-abiding citizen?
Do you truly, honestly, deeply, pledge your allegiance, your personal power, to a flag? Do you give yourself to a banner? Do you look behind its veil before making this decision?
Are you with us, or are you against us?
Are you angry yet?
America, we have become a collection of ping pong balls. Thin and hollow and bounced between two extremes, and I would venture that (deep down) most of us do not really like the choices or the players on either side of the table.
But choose a side America, the politicians chant, choose a side. Then we can all enjoy the game.
Welcome to the grand deception, welcome to the big top, the land of polar thinking and false choices. Welcome to the game.
It’s a grand football game America, so bring your beer and popcorn. At this Political Super Bowl, the American voting public fills the stadium. We all wear our colors proudly, booing the opposing team, cheering for our own, and sneering at our fellow humans in the stand who, in our opinion, wear the wrong colors. Hoots and hollers and high fives for those in our colors and labels, our team.
We sit eager in the stands, watching as the two uniformed teams tackle each other. A third party trots around in black and white stripes, blowing its whistle and throwing flags when one of the two superstars commits a foul. Yes, yes, those third-party referees are keeping it fair. It’s a fair game!
It is not a fair game. It is just a game. A charade. A joke. A distraction. And we pay to watch this jestering leviathan we call democracy. We pay with our money, with our energy, with our happiness, with our hearts. We pay to watch the ball go back and forth, from one team to the other. We pay to watch a touchdown here, a victory there, a sorrowful defeat. We pay to watch the little third party referee make sober faces and arm movements as he chides and penalizes the offending superstar.
We watch the political pundits, the ‘commentators’, who provide the play-by-play analysis. They sit in pairs or panels, sharply dressed and handsome, and seem to have a lively debate spiced with carefully selected buzzwords, key talking points, and just enough humor to seem reasonable, logical, likable, and most importantly, believable.
We watch the shrewd yet beautifully perky female newscaster vigorously question her guests and panel of designated experts, yet despite her pointed questions, under the guise of moderating intelligent debate, she is but a cheerleader shaking her pom poms for that which is supported by both sides; the current political system, the American government. Both teams may have a representative talking head present, and a referee is always there to throw his flags, but the underlying issue, the government, remains supported, unquestioned, and invisible.
And we sit and watch. We have been sitting and watching for generations.
Perhaps it is time to stop sitting and watching. Perhaps it is time to stop staying. Perhaps it is time to leave.
This is harder than it seems. The stadium is beautiful, its lights are bright, the players and cheerleaders are hypnotizing, and all our friends are here around us.
But we do have the choice to leave.
On my way out of the political Colliseum, I was stopped by its team players and cheerleaders, by friends in the stand, even vendors tried to catch me, to engage me, to make me stay. There were many attempts to make me feel guilty for not watching, cheering and booing, for not performing my civic duty. But I kept leaving.
When I thought I was free, when I thought my escape was imminent, an enormous man stepped in front of the exit, spread his legs and crossed his arms. I was intimidated. He told me I shouldn’t leave. He told me if I left, I could never come back; never feel the safety, the lightness, the excitement and the entertainment of the grand charade again. I would be alone. You are either with us or you’re against us. He growled.
No. I answered. I am neither. And, I am both.
I kept on leaving.
Finally I reached the quiet gloom of the parking lot. I could vaguely hear the roar of the crowds in the stadium. It was very distant now. After a moment in this gloom, I heard new sounds; shuffling, whispering, sniggering. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw what was really going on, I saw reality. Without the blazing lights and screens of the charade, I could see clearly. The parking lot was teeming with thieves, burglars, crooks. As the fans were distracted by the game, cheering passionately for their chosen team, their belongings were being looted by these hidden pirates. Their money, their hearts, their thoughts, their personal power, their privacy, their freedom, all their truly precious possessions, being siphoned away. Perhaps the most sophiscated metaphorical pick-pocketing plot ever to exist.
I found my car. I found my burglar. I stared into his face until I no longer feared him. I took back my car, my precious possessions. I took back myself.
Now I am alone. I no longer rely on the pundits and cheerleaders to feed me reality. I am the sole arbiter of what is real and what is false to me now. I question everything, I even question myself. I no longer allow the Big Top to offer me false choices. I have found my Divine right to choose. I found my real choices. And they were not at the ball game.