Thursday, May 27, 2010

Real Life Tao - Bitch and Moan

In one of my favorite George Carlin routines, the late comedian used to say that the citizens of this nation had no right to bitch and moan about our elected leaders. The way Carlin saw it is that said leaders simply resemble the members of our society and, if we want better leaders, then we should be better people!!

Amidst all the uproarious laughter, the man made a great point.

What we see on a grand scale played out in the halls of Congress or the Oval Office (or any other governmental office or agency, for that matter) are the very same traits and attitudes that each of us exhibits and wrestles with on a daily basis. The big difference between how we comport ourselves and the behavior of political leaders is that, when they act as we do, it can impact millions or billions of people.

Take, for example, the Obama administration's rather hands-off approach to the unfolding debacle in the Gulf of Mexico. While more and more people in the general public as well as many local and state government officials are calling on the federal government to take over the responsibility from British Petroleum for managing and mitigating the oil spill, President Obama and his representatives seem loathe to do it.

If we look at this issue in personal terms, it's easy to understand why. If someone in our family or business screws up, who wants to take over responsibility for THEIR problem? If we take on the responsibility and we don't clear things up quickly, then, in time, others are likely to blame us, not them, for the ongoing crisis.

So, what most of us tend to do is to stand off at the side and point fingers at the offending party. Hey, it's Bob or Cindy's problem, not MINE! I'm willing to lend a hand to try to resolve the issue, but, if it doesn't get resolved, don't blame me!

In other instances, government leaders follow the tack each of us often takes in everyday life. It's not uncommon for members of the public to become outraged when it turns out a government official outright lies about something or distorts the truth to further a political objective. Yet, how often do most of us fess up when we shade the truth to convince someone to agree to something they wouldn't have otherwise? My guess is not often enough.

And so, Carlin's point was right on the mark. We will never have straightforward and honest leaders UNTIL the members of the overall society -- that includes you and me -- begin to behave in a straightforward and honest manner. Until that point, leaders simply are a product of what we have each created.

For me, this is why blogs of this nature -- ones that explore topics like philosophical Taoism -- are so important. Until each of us gets our own ducks in a row, we really don't have much room to bitch and moan. If we genuinely desire a more loving, peaceful and just society, we must begin in the one place in which we exercise a modicum of control -- our OWN lives.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. Maybe the expectation of Obama is too much. He is after all, just a human and not a saint. Give him a break? He has many other things to look into as well.

    Maybe he's already working on the situation quietly.

  2. Temaskian,

    All evidence points to the fact his administration is not doing much of anything re this crisis. A new government report released today admits what we all feared -- nearly TWICE as much oil has been released than in the Valdez incident 20 years ago.


Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.