I apologize for the lateness of posting this. I had an unexpectedly hard time finishing the follow-up to my first installment. I actually completed it more than a week ago, but I didn’t feel good about what I’d written. It felt like the tone was all wrong. I was being too strident and too dark, so I ended of scrapping the entire first draft and starting again from scratch.
This has happened before. I’ve noticed that when I want to write something very badly, I tend to tighten up. I tend to push too hard. Perhaps I care too much as well? Is it possible for a writer to care too much, especially if the topic is of great importance?
Part of the reason I struggled to write this piece is that I am also very concerned (perhaps scared is a more accurate word). In a few weeks, America is going to the polls and a lot of fundamentals hang in the balance.
In addition to playing the role of canary in the coalmine, I want to exhort and advise. If you are interested in engaging in self-care, being happy, living in a free and democratic country, promoting the well-being of your fellow human beings and the planet, being tolerant and promoting tolerance, and just about any of the other subjects we normally write about here, then now is not the time to turn away or become disengaged. You have to be interested in politics (at least for the time being) because the state is very much responsibility for creating the conditions that make all these achievable (or not). The state and its institutions are not something that exist “out there,” independent of all of the rest of us. We create the state, and it creates us. Aristotle, the O.G. of political analysts, has said that humans are, by their very nature, “political animals,” and he is right.
So, the first steps in building a more muscular mind is to wake up, look around, learn about what’s going on, and then get involved.
The sleeping mind is a weak one. The apathetic mind is similarly feeble. Find a good cause you care about and get engaged. Have the courage to have uncomfortable conversations with those who haven’t been paying attention. Try to help them see the importance of the current moment. Write blogs, march in protests, volunteer, help the less fortunate, and speak out when you see injustice. The ways you can protect and promote democracy and an open society are endless.
The way the body builds muscle is through exercise. The mind similarly builds muscle through exertion and engagement.
As you get more engaged, you’ll feel yourself growing more thoughtful and powerful. You’ll learn about the issues and about yourself as well, and as you engage with those in your community, you’ll feel a greater connection to your neighbors and grow as a communicator too.
Thanks for reading. I want to finish by asking you to do your part.