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Politics, anyone?

No? If this timely topic seems out of place here, I assure you that the SlideMoor Blog has not been hacked by any of the political parties! I just thought we might delve in to what just might be The Bermuda Triangle of topics – something strangely fascinating to contemplate, yet it could be very nerve-wracking to actually go there.

The November election is just hours away as I start to write this. By the time this blog post is published, votes will have been counted. Results from most contests will be determined. The media and the internet will no doubt be abuzz with analysis, observations, commentary, and strong conflicting opinions about what it all means, and what will happen next.

A new scene in what has seemed like an endless, contentious drama will begin to unfold. It’s hard for me to imagine or predict how it will play out.

Of course, I hope that my votes are with the majority. Don’t we all? I also hope that now we can turn some of our collective attention to other things, at least until the cycle begins to repeat.

As a non-politician, I don’t really enjoy politics…in the same way that I don’t truly enjoy watching football or other sports as a non-player (though, I have enjoyed playing football and other sports). As observers in these games, I’m frustrated that we have no significant control and only minimal input – yet, we harbor the illusion of participation: if we are fired up and scream loud enough, our guys will win!

On some level, because I’m not sure how much our voices matter, I would be tempted to spend every election season away on a boat, perhaps docked off one of the quiet nearby Canadian islands (since they are on a different election schedule), just north of Seattle.

So, why wade into politics here when I could have written of tropical islands?

I’ve realized that politics has repercussions in all of our lives, whether we pay attention, participate, vote, or not. As much as it might be tempting to tune out or make light of all the theatrics, negativity and seemingly ever-changing minutia; I believe that it’s crucial that we don’t. There is an old adage, “The personal is political.” The flip side of that is that the political can, and does, affect us personally.

It’s in our own best interests if we do our due diligence, research, and apply some critical thinking skills when choosing politicians and voting on ballot measures. I think it’s also important that we do more than just vote and trust others to carry forth our intentions.

If we really want change, we need to set a better example for younger people (and for some of our adult peers) in trying to solve the many issues we are faced with in our communities in between elections.

I also think we need to go beyond being just observers; and pay attention, stay engaged, and be able to articulate our various points of view…without devolving into anger (or worse). The political process, and life in general, would benefit greatly if we could each try to truly listen to other’s viewpoints, but also take a stand for our own.

Dutifully, I delved into the pros/cons of the many initiatives and candidates on my ballot last weekend. Though, it took me hours to navigate through it all, I was glad I did so, rather than blindly follow one of the many “Cheat Sheets.” I compared and reviewed information from various sources.

I was surprised by how many subtle details were in the depths of the fine print that might have repercussions for boaters, for our waterways, for our environment (Sea Stars, Orcas, Humpbacks and Manatees), as well as for us personally. I cast several votes with an eye towards my concerns for our marine environment, and will continue to pay attention to these things going forward.

No matter who wins or loses nationally or locally, no matter which ballot initiatives and measures passed or didn’t, I venture to say that those of us non-politicians may have a mixture of feelings about the outcome. Of course, those whose votes were in the majority may feel elated or hopeful, or at least happier than those whose votes were in the minority. Others of us may feel frustration, grief, anger, or disappointment. I expect that a myriad of feelings about this election will be surfacing and swirling around in the coming days and weeks.

It especially saddens me to see that the political climate that seemed divisive years ago, has become increasingly so. During the run-up to this election, I’ve seen friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and even fellow boaters, “unfriend” each other – not just on Facebook, but in real life.

Many of these hard feelings will linger long after the results of this election are deemed yesterday’s news. In some cases, these relationships appear to be damaged beyond repair, especially if harsh words and/or blatant contempt was expressed for opposing views. The perception that someone may feel that they are superior to you is not readily forgotten in the days or weeks after the votes are counted.

The results of some elections have shaken me. I’ve found it painful to realize that those I care about, people who care about me, don’t really understand me or realize what is important to me. Election after election, it can feel devastating to see these people choose to vote in against my rights, interests, or in opposition to my core beliefs… and/or they do so “accidentally” because “It’s just politics.” I’ve found it surprising and sad to learn that some people don’t think any of it “really” matters.

Two+ weeks from now, in the aftermath of this election, many of us – including me — will find ourselves spending time with loved ones at Thanksgiving. Some of us may find ourselves among those who are like-minded. Others of us may land amid people who feel differently than we do, and perhaps amid some of these people that we’ve technically or emotionally unfriended.

How do we navigate from here?

I am hopeful that boats, and the many other things that we as people have in common, can help bring some of us back together.

Karen Berge

Karen Berge

I enjoy living in Seattle, where boating opportunities abound. My goal is to take advantage of them all!
Karen Berge

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