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Life as performance art

Life as performance art


By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

Our National Happiness Quotient seems to be dropping faster than the temperature this time of this year. It’s about frozen over, and even the most intrepid optimists are not promising that things will get better.

We hope we’ll see a rise in the NHQ, but it’s spooky to talk about it because don’t want to jinx it.

Many of us feel it’s because of the hired help on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. It’s easy to blame national politicians since they are far away, impersonal and have more influence on our lives than we want.

They haven’t helped the mood of the country with their squabbling. It’s cold comfort to remember that in the 1800s some of these fellows got into fistfights at the capitol. One even bashed the other over the head with a walking stick and nearly killed him.

The fact is most of these folks are reflections of ourselves. That’s why multi-millionaire candidates would never shed suits to lower themselves to buying something off a department store rack, put on blue jeans and a plaid shirt when they are on the campaign trail. They want to look like their voters. They are articulate right up to the moment they step behind a microphone and remember to drop the final “g” on words ending –ing.

If they were merely a reflection of our sartorial and linguistic choices, that wouldn’t be important. What if they are a mirror image and a mirror image of our attitudes. If we put our focus on being arrogant, rude and nasty, these hirelings are so desperate for our votes they will behave that way.

We need to change the agenda and put emphasis on respect. If you don’t appreciate the way NHQ meter is dropping, we must make clear we expect from these would-be leaders the type of respect we give others and earn from them.

Old-fashioned courtesy, with a heavy dose of please, thank you and smiles is the place to start. Eventually, it will catch on and spread.

From there, we build on tolerance — not for our own ideas, but of others and their ideas. Then political pollsters will start to realize that candidates who doles out arrogance and smirking won’t receive enough votes to win elections.

I know that is optimistic,  but I don’t see negativity and disrespect making us very happy. Insanity has long been described as trying the same thing over and over in hopes the result will be different. We’ve done that long enough.