October 26, 2022

These midterms are the most important in recent history.

What if I told you that our reactions to everything in life are happening in our heads? And that no one makes us mad or drives us crazy? What if we could fully understand and utilize this information to take charge of our feelings about those parts of our lives we feel are giving us trouble—out of control—causing us pain?

Well, it’s all true. No one gets in our heads without our permission. And no one lives there but us. So, all those people, events, and circumstances that drive us nuts are just being who they are, and we’re in control of how we respond. They act. We respond. The ultimate human freedom is how we choose to respond to our circumstances. No one can take that away from us.

Too many of us settle for statements like, “she made me feel bad” or “he embarrassed me.” Neither is correct. They acted, and we responded.

I’m making this point because come November, roughly half of us will be upset with the outcomes of the mid-term elections. But however they go, there will be many affected people because most of us will allow the result to determine how we respond, glad or sad.

Here’s the key to being ok with whatever happens. It’s happening out there, and we’re responding in here (our own minds.) Having been given the gift of a long life, I can tell you that I’ve been alternately elated and depressed by politics too many times to count. And my response had no effect on anything or anyone but me.

To be clear. I’m not saying don’t care or don’t vote. Please do. I am saying that grasping for political contests to turn out the way you want them to only affects you. After you’ve done what you can to influence the outcomes, for instance, donate, vote, participate to the extent you can, and then be at peace. That’s a good lesson for living a more contented and peaceful life. Do what you can and accept the outcomes.

Here’s the not-so-secret secret. Acceptance is the key to peace of mind, and it is a choice—the ultimate human choice. And rich or poor, black or white, Jew, Christian, or Muslim, Democrat or Republican, we all have it.

I can’t write this piece without remembering the choices made by our government during the Viet Nam War. They knew for years that war was unwinnable and still sent our young people to die because they couldn’t accept the facts. But, lucky for them, they had the power to send someone else to suffer the consequences of their ill-advised decisions.

The 2020 presidential election was held, and a legitimate winner was declared. However, rather than accept the facts, the loser chose to incite his loyal followers to overturn the results by attacking the Capitol during the certification process.

Next month, many of us are emotionally preparing for a repeat of the same strategic move, i.e., “if we win, the vote was correct; if we lose, it was fraudulent.” Even as I write this, I can feel my blood pressure rising. But I need to let it go because I have no control over anyone’s behavior but my own.

I think the lesson is that when someone tells us another person is trying to destroy the country so we should use violence to fix our problems, reject the thought. Instead, remember the 620,000 men who died in the Civil War, or the 58,000 Americans who died in Viet Nam, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more Vietnamese who died.

We need to come to our senses and realize that the wars someone else wants us to fight are going on in their heads, not ours. So don’t become a casualty of the wars going on in someone else’s head.


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