Saturday, September 28, 2013

Politics of Distraction

Much can be said of the current problems in Washington but is it the inherent nature of democracy that makes it messy since the breakdown of civil relation and bipartisanship between legislators. Long ago, veteran lawmakers reminisce about the old days in the 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s when bipartisan compromise and level headed thinking saved the day, a tradition started by Benjamin Franklin during the first meeting s of the constitutional congress. Some even recall warm friendships between members of opposing parties. This bring to mind the China model, devoid of democratic institutions wherein 2 parties battle each other for control of government with free exchange of ideas; instead managed like a conglomerate of technocrats but with the risk of corruption, innate in an unelected centralized government. But the tradeoff looks attractive day by day, just watching television, where the dramas of Washington plays out like a comedy in the cinema; the lone senator filibustering a bill but backs down and votes instead with the opposition, like a performance in a kabuki or an Indonesian shadow play where things play out at back stage while the overt players perform for the gullible public.

Sometimes it just seems like the death of common sense, an attribute that used to distinguish the New World colonies, now driven by ideologues, demagogues and inflexible principles goaded by muddy thinking. One thinks that the way forward are bipartisan entities like the Office of Budget and Management who fact check assertions and verify the truth. Instead it is a battle of inane ideas, more driven by emotion and funded by billionaires working in the background to keep their immense wealth. It is a shame that elected officials allows themselves to be led by these men in the back room who ask for pledges not to raise taxes, constricting common sense. No wonder this churning in government makes one want to pick up a weapon and start shooting anyone in sight; perhaps this is an important study, to see if the turmoil in government, played out through the media, affects the sanity of people sensitive to visual and auditory noise like political junkies checking news feeds to know what is going on to nourish their addiction.

In my case it is stress that causes distraction, to flee from the work at hand, trying to escape from responsibility that work entails, looking for an activity that can free the ego instead of solving the problem. This emotional reaction prevents one from following David Allen’s GTD principle, causing one to react to incoming emails with fear when one should just place the mail in the appropriate folder if one cannot respond within 2 minutes; organizing the reaction in a systemic way. One realizes it is emotion that derails one’s common sense, the way politicians react to seeming slights that result in gridlock, not moving forward in a calm and sensible manner. Get a grip on your mind – books would say, try journaling or deep breathing to ground one, instead of allowing one’s attention to take flight with thought bubbles; the curse of the monkey mind.  Journaling is calming, the steady rhythm of writing, a way to control the berserk electrical patterns coursing the brain into a more sensible and calm array like listening to Mozart when in turmoil; music soothing the savage mental beast. One thinks this is needed by the Washington politicians as their rivals - the Chinese politburo practice Tai Chi in their enclave within the Forbidden City in Beijing.

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