Sunday, November 3, 2013

Get Over Yourself

Sitting in front of the keyboard once again, I was trying to make the difficult decision of what to provide the extremely loyal (if somewhat twisted) readership of "Just Blowing Smoke" in the way of a weekend effort.  Should it be some insightful bit of purposeful prose lamenting the current political state of the nation and how it can only be saved by conservative ideal; or perhaps instead a rather clever and amusing piece filled with wit, sarcasm, and irony (with a bit of poorly hidden polysyllabic intellectual snobbery thrown for no better reason than that it amuses me) whose value is not more than distraction and (if I'm lucky) a bit of entertainment? Fortunately for those of you reading this, such intellectual pursuits quickly sent me racing to the bathroom to revisit my most recently consumed meal.

After wiping my brow, brushing my teeth, and gargling, I was able to stumble back to my seat; much disappointed in my recent dietary choices, similarly humbled by the position of porcelain worship I had assumed, and emotionally staggered by the realization that led to this rather abrupt departure.  "Get over yourself," escaped all but unbidden from my lips.

You see, far too often I find myself (personally, as well as electronically) in the presence of my betters.  While I've learned to grudgingly accept and respect those with far greater knowledge and insight, more ability, and a far larger audience than myself; I can't help but occasionally find myself feeling rather smug about the exalted company that I'm keeping (whether I actually belong there or not).  In the end however, something usually brings me back to the brutal realization that even the best words of those I admire have little lasting effect on a society far more concerned with the cult of celebrity and the next 'squirrel moment' that comes along; a cognizance which make my own wretched efforts insignificant. 

This could be an insight that many of those who aspire to public office might seek to learn as well.  The job is important but quite frankly, you aren't; neither before or after obtaining it (nor even in the ineffective, if noble effort of failing to do so).  While there's a nobility of purpose in a goal of public service and a value in doing it well, both are entirely lost when the person involved becomes focused instead on a sense of real or imagined entitlement coming along with such a position. 

In the end, working in the national legislature is no more noble a calling than picking up the trash, and could in many cases be considered less necessary.  Being the Mayor of a city makes the decisions one makes sometimes more significant because of the numbers they may effect, but deciding makes one no better or more important than an insurance agent or used car salesman (and often far more annoying).  Voting on City Council may have greater long-term impact on ones fellow citizens, but makes that person themselves no more special than anyone who votes on "American Idol".

Win, lose, or draw, those of you running for office should seriously try to recognize that you will be no more and no less necessary whether you win or lose.  Yes, this is a glorified beauty contest and you might well find yourself wearing the tiara soon, but it's the responsibility of the crown that's important, not the potentially swelled head wearing it.  You may represent us, but you don't rule us.  You do not become the office you might win, just the latest person responsible for filling it.

So before this humble scribbler gets far too carried away with self-important sentiment where this all-too-forgettable effort is concerned, let me finish it with these two thoughts before election day:

1. To those of you capable of voting in the coming elections ... do so.  The responsibility of such a task is one not only to yourself, but to your fellow citizens.  The failure to do so is not only a breach of public trust, but a tacit submission to so many of the things that are wrong with society in general and government in particular.

2. To those of you running for office ... Thank you.  Though many of us pick on you endlessly for choosing this path (well, I do anyway); you deserve some credit for willingly subjecting yourself to the public humiliation involved with a life of public service.  Even as you are chided, it's recognized that you possess a special courage and a strength that perhaps the rest of us do not.  On the other hand; far too many of you doing so possess an ego that wouldn't fit on Mt. Rushmore; so get over yourself.  

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