In the middle of a yoga stretch the other day I began thinking about the gridlock that is gripping the U.S. Congress (you’re supposed to block stuff out during yoga but it just popped right in). That may seem like an odd time to reflect on politics, but it occurred to me because yoga is all about balance - of the spirit and of the body.
So I started thinking about how the inability of Congress to work together for the good of all Americans is a perfect snapshot of the social ills I talk about in Conversations with EVE. When did civility and compromise become dirty words? When did treating others with fairness and respect become “just for shmucks?” When did winning become more important than anything else – regardless of how much harm is done to others in the process?
I’m sure some of those attitudes have always been part of human nature, but for tens of thousands of years they were generally disapproved of and usually held in check to maintain healthy, balanced societies. That all changed though after the Myth of Male Superiority did away with social balance and redefined manhood. No, things just haven’t been the same since the values of the Myth made “winning” the only measure of a man and declared that those who compromise and consider the welfare of others aren't “real” men.
Social focus shifted from balance to winning quite a while ago and has been making life miserable for a lot of people since then. But today you need look no further than certain elements of the U.S. House of Representatives for a living, breathing, totally dysfunctional example of these Myth values in action:
** there is no informed debate about how to reduce hunger in America or how to achieve a living wage for middle income workers, but they defeated a badly needed farm bill because it ONLY cut $20 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (better known as food stamps) and they want to cut $100 billion,
** there is no meaningful discussion of other ways to provide all Americans with access to health care, but there have been 40 separate votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act without offering an alternative, and
** there is no will to pass significant immigration reform even when the bill was proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators and covers all the issues they’ve been insisting on: increased border security, increased employer verification, and clear requirements for any pathway to citizenship. This despite the facts that Americans overwhelmingly support the bill and the reforms are projected to grow the U.S. economy, help reduce the deficit, and generate close to a trillion dollars in revenue for the U.S. by 2044.
You see this kind of “dig in your heels rather than give a little for the good of everyone” approach to life a lot in our competitive, combative society. But when it becomes the way that elected representatives do their job (or don’t) in this country it’s gotten way out of hand.
So the next time you get the opportunity to vote for a member of Congress, choose those who can put the health and well-being of all Americans above their own need to win.