“The biggest way people give up power is by not knowing we have it to start with.” Alice Walker said that and Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, quoted her last night at the conclusion of the invisible presidential debate. This was the debate between the four independent party presidential candidates. The candidates the Democratic and Republican parties have worked hard to exclude from the debates, electoral process, media, and the awareness of the American people. But that atrocity is not what this blog is about.
What I realized while listening to these debates and the Obama and Romney debates the night before is that our political parties reflect differing views of personal responsibility. The left wing groups focus on compassion, stewardship, and generosity, often to a fault. Many of my favorite clients live by this same viewpoint. They are the caretakers. They are the ones who give of themselves, give their time, money, and resources often to the detriment of their own well-being. Many times their motives are very commendable, but their sacrifice does not provide the results they desire. Their act of giving teaches others to expect to be taken care of, it breeds an attitude of “do it for me.” My clients take on the responsibility for others’ experience versus focusing on themselves. Their sacrifice keeps them from taking care of themselves leading to resentment when their gifts are not recognized. They are then disappointed when they realize they have not lived their life because they were too busy helping others. Yet if we deny a helping hand to those in need, we are denying our humanity. There needs to be a balance between giving and receiving, taking care of and teaching to be self-sufficient.
On the other hand, our right wing friends play more of a strict parental role. They feel there is a definite right and wrong. They feel threatened by those who do not feel the same way and fear how the choices of others will affect them. Therefore they try to force others to believe or at least act in the way they do. There are punishments for not following the rules. This viewpoint results in force; forcing and enforcing my viewpoint on you for my own safety. This viewpoint is founded on self-preservation and fear of the other. There is a feeling one needs to fight and defend what they have. With my clients I teach them that instead of trying to control others’ behavior, to fortify our own personal boundaries and strength. We can not control the actions of others, but we can control what we experience.
Followers of both of these viewpoints are trying to control others but are really creating disempowerment. We are not trusted to our own choices. In one we are coddled and in the other we are forced but in neither do we have a voice. As a coach I am much more attracted to the Libertarian point of view. This political and personal ideology puts the power of choice and consequence back to the individual. It does not feel the need to rescue nor punish. It trusts each person to make the right choices. Now some may see this as idealistic, and it may be true that not everyone is in the right mental state to make the best choices at all times. But as I teach my clients, I am the only person responsible for my actions and the results of those actions. You are the only person responsible for your actions and the results of your actions. As much as you try, you can only have a limited affect on me and vice versa. So ready or not, each person is truly the only one in control of their own choices, experience, and destiny.
My realization in watching these debates is the need, now more than ever, to take personal responsibility. It is time to increase our own self-knowledge, our own self-reliance, our own self-control, and our own self-empowerment. Learn to let others make their own choices. Learn to accept others and not fear their differing views. Learn to step into your own power. You always have a choice. You always have power. Take back your life. And perhaps take back a truly democratic political process as well.