Going In: Politics and the Red Boot (R)evolution

So, first off, we will hear more from Joe (Dirt) Borer.  In the meantime, we've been thinkin' and talkin' and dreamin' a lot over here in Red Boot Land and are on the cusp of some pretty big stuff.  We think we may have figured out a way to connect all the dots and bring more joy to more people.

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Charlie Elberson...we've heard from him before...is one of us and has been braining up on politics and the question the world is dying (powerful word but true) "Where is the Love?"

We thought that it might be kinda cool to put some o' his ramblins' out there for everyone to ponder.  Because what's slowly emerging is an idea...a really, really ginormous one  that could very well change the course of well...the world.  That's right.  We said it.

The freakin' WORLD.

Here goes Charlie.  Bring it brotha.

Staying on the Surface

"How’re things? I mean how’s life? What's happening with you?"

Everyday questions, but not as simple as they sound. In fact, they can be answered two very different ways.

The most common way is the surface way -

"Oh, you know. Life's pretty good, all things considered. Everyone's healthy, Bobby's doing good in school. Laura's boss is a pain, as usual. And our property taxes are going up again, but what're you gonna do.”

That’s the most-often answer. But once in a while you'll get a different answer...from the inside, like this.

"Life's pretty hard right now. Laura's anxiety has become a bit of a crisis and we're not sure how to handle it, but she could easily lose her job and that only makes it worse. Bobby's doing OK but Sara's really struggling in her school and they're talking medication but we don't know if that's what we should do. Me, I just feel really alone and somehow the burden just gets heavier every day. Sometimes I just want to bail out on the whole thing."

This answer, the uncommon answer, is the one that comes from Inside. Inside, where real life happens. It's messy and dirty and beautiful and raw and poetic. Sometimes it’s lovely on the inside. Sometimes it requires all the courage and faith just to get through a day. But it's real, and it matters.

The surface is real, too, and it also matters – but it’s maybe just not as real as the inside answer. The surface has opportunities and problems, failures and triumphs. Tears and laughter, arguments and hugs.

The surface offers experiences, but learning happens under the surface. On the surface, life occurs. Underneath, life evolves. The truth is always deeper, under the surface.

Life, as I see it, is meant to be lived consciously and simultaneously on the surface and under it. We have an outer aspect and an inner aspect to life. Each has its season and we’re meant to keep one (red-booted) foot in the inner life and the other in the outer. Balancing the happenings on the surface with the truths underneath.

The temptation is to stay pretty much on the surface, going places, doing things. Staying on the surface is attractive and praised by others. We love winners and the game is played on the surface.

Moreover, there are entire industries devoted to keeping us on the surface. Marketing wants us on the surface. Transacting, consuming.

Politics is even better at keeping us on the surface. Politics, after all, is happiest when we stop being people and become hardened constituents.

And hardened is the correct word for it. Research shows we’ve reached the point of divisiveness where, in a clash between partisan beliefs and plain evidence, beliefs win – evidence is dismissed out of hand.

Why? As long as it’s about them, or him, or it, it’s all surface and has little to do with me and you, on the inside, where it’s real.

For people that want to really connect to other people regardless of the partisan issue of the day, it can feel really hopeless. But here’s something weird. Just a little touch of the “inside” can counterbalance even the most hardened “outside.” Check this out. (From a Yale Law School study)

-       People who disapproved of Obama’s economic record were shown a graph of nonfarm employment over the prior year – a rising line, adding about a million jobs. They were asked whether the number of people with jobs had gone up or down. Looking straight at the graph, many said down – even though the graph clearly showed the increase.

-       If, however, before they were shown the graph they were asked to write a few sentences about an experience that made them feel good about themselves, a significant number of them changed their minds when showed the graph.  If they spent a few minutes affirming their own self-worth, they were more likely to say that the number of jobs increased.

So what? Here’s what. It’s the surface stuff that separates us. Every time. Especially when it comes to politics.

If you want to get closer to someone, don’t argue about the surface stuff. Ask them about inner stuff, what they love, what they care about, what’s important, what matters deep down. The surface disagreements fade away and you find what you have in common. Love, family, hope, fear.

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Maybe then, at some point, if you want to talk about politics, you can have a much more beneficial conversation, a deeper conversation. Because you got past the surface and went inside where life and truth come together and create love.