Have we become residents in the land of the absurd? | Livingston

We are four months away from selecting our next president.

The verdict is in — we are all crazy!

Laws, facts, and truth are subject to change based on who says the words. Who is to blame? All of us! We need to ask, who is driving the confusion conspiracy bus dividing us and creating a warped alternate reality? Is it all rigged as one man suggests as he chooses not to accept any responsibility?

We need to ratchet down the hyperbole and hypocrisy, take a look in the mirror, and reflect upon the path we are choosing before we become permanent residents in the land of the absurd. Are we living in a land where everyone’s beliefs are right, and when subjected to different points of view, are the words spoken triggers to fight? Or can they be opportunities to grow and learn?

Have we forgotten how to be problem solvers, kind and caring listeners, and shapers of opportunity for all? Or, was that an educational, political myth of what the American way was meant to be: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and in parentheses, “at the expense of others.”

The simple answer is, we have forgotten more than we have learned, which makes us vulnerable to manipulation by politicians, corporations, businesses, religions, and friends selling all kinds of myths and hope as we navigate life’s complexities of choices as well as ladders of opportunity within our quirky structured society.

Are we trapped and stuck at the moment by the processes of media news needing to be profit-centered infotainment providers sharing speculative news backed by opinion versus being truth-tellers sharing verifiable facts? Are our fears and ideas of wealth, power, and the attributes we choose for our leaders making us think like sheep as we fall in line with the power of charisma backed by political machinery?

Maybe we should think about this African Proverb as we make our choices and opinions known: “The sheep spend their lives fearing the wolf, only to be eaten by a shepherd. Once you understand this statement, the game changes and you understand politics.”

When our curiosity fails us, and we forget to see the “big” picture or understand how our values are being manipulated, we become myopic or cult-like in our thinking and actions. Social media is a major contributor to our current political malaise. Are any of those divisive memes you are sharing provided by a bot troll farm in Russia or from fellow Americans being goading trolls?

With a mocking sense of humor, I get a meme periodically in my media feed stating that “birds aren’t real.” It is all in good fun, but not all sites and information shared are as transparent in their sense of jest.

We are four months away from selecting our next president — both are repeat options. Also on the political consideration table is a new governor for our state, representatives for Congress as well as our state Legislature.

Are any or all of the candidates running for office running on the premise that the election is being “rigged” against them? So far, I have only heard one candidate represent that point of view.

Politics is a contentious business, it affects our collective well-being, defines our reality, can weaponize our belief systems, and at the extremes constrains thinking, and respect, and undermines common sense and decency. Accepting outcomes from an election is one of the ways we honor the electorate, and show respect for our laws and one another.

If we believe our votes are counted and elections are fair at local, state, and national levels, then why do we, or some of us, believe an election was stolen, rigged, and unfair? If you believe that alternate reality, what conspiracy cult have you joined? Information repeated without proof is what, a lie?

We are a nation of laws, some well-written and some not, but as citizens on a jury, we try to thread the needle for fairness beyond a reasonable doubt. As citizens in a jury room where we decide someone’s fate, we consider the evidence, not the politics.

Is it easy? No. Juries are instruments of the legal system and represent the values within our society, jurors see the evidence from different points of view, and may or may not convict based on the facts presented.

Expectations of being a candidate on a national stage are daunting and as is seen in each election cycle, require a divided populace confused about the “what is in it for me” as we cast our vote.

Fear of one another, with a little seasoning of hate, has become a common tool to divide. Do we want our elected leaders bent on retribution and running for office intent on twisting our laws and government to their benefit? Are you a crony of the lie and openly supporting, or a silent partner to lies and fake promises out of fear of the present and future? Are you a partner because you believe you will personally benefit by following a political cult?

Do we the voters prefer the lies being told by those who have more to gain as they play games with the foundations of our democracy? Or, do we want leaders who respect the laws we have and want to universally build a society that is consistently improving lives while respectfully leading with integrity?

Elections are about choosing our leaders, but as long as we choose to believe in abstract alternate realities constructed by media moguls, political charlatans, competing theologies, and a world at war with itself, the lies we believe are slowly choosing our demise. The verdict is in, and we are …

Keith Livingston is a retired municipal management professional, lifelong artist and Federal Way resident. He can be reached at keithlivingstondesign@gmail.com.