Stop Draggin’ Our Heart Around

“…Baby, you come knocking on my front door. Same old line you used to use before. [It’s just a game] well, what am I supposed to do? I didn’t know what I was getting into…” Stevie Nicks

Another year, another celebration of the change-through-non-violent-protest legacy left us by Martin Luther King, Jr. He was magnificent.

Unfortunately, again this year when we give lip service to that, few of us are doing what needs to be done: listen for the reasons driving our political dis-ease and committing to fix them. All of them.

We’re the only ones who can guard America’s collective heart and we refuse.

Instead, when we don’t get our way we rise up and take power back. First Clinton, then Bush, then Obama, and Trump were elected when we felt unheard. What if instead we had listened for the heart of things? Listened to the cries? Figured out how to help?

Now here comes Biden and though he’s mentioned unity, he’s also vowed to change some things back “on Day One”. Things that were largely responsible for propelling Trump to power.

Here we go again. Some of us didn’t get what we wanted. The pendulum has swung back, only a little further and harder this time. And we’re the ones pushing it.

How about instead of tense elections, hardball power plays, and riots we tell our leaders to solve wicked problems? Our nation, states, counties, and cities would be better for it.

How about we approach problems that are at the core of what ails us: preserving freedom and opportunity while respecting others’ rights, helping them succeed, and compassionately caring for the least among us?

I’ve said it before – back in 2010 and almost every year since – and will keep reposting this message every year until my time on earth is gone: leaders listen.

We’re not following leaders, but gladiators. On the left and on the right. Wisdom says a better way is building a coalition of those from both sides who are willing to create win win outcomes.

Let’s stop this nonsense before we can’t fix America, before we’re just an example of a failed democratic experiment.

We get what we elect. If we don’t like the violence we must allow our leaders to listen and support them when they seek balance, not dominion. When they stand, eschewing violence like King, and speak. We must listen.

If we elect to stay on the pendulum, let’s be honest. We’re going down to nowhere good. We can no longer pretend we didn’t know what we were getting into. We’re the only ones that can stop draggin’ America’s heart around.

Wisdom From Martin Luther King, Jr.: Leaders Listen – Teri Murrison, Blog Post, 2010

“A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

In recent years we’ve had our share (and then some) of violent verbal jousting in public (and media) discourse, rioting in the streets, and electoral revolt. America has been buffeted first one way and then the other by competing parties and ideology.

Too few of us comprehend the wisdom underlying Dr. King’s words. Our leaders must begin to listen to everyone and then act decisively to bring about balance and secure freedom for future generations of Americans.

Unheard, unhappy people overthrow the status quo, not so much to make others unhappy, but because the status quo is for them untenable. Systemic equilibrium – balance – requires determining what various interests need in order to be content and live peaceably. 

Balance doesn’t mean no one gets their way, but that most are satisfied and few are sufficiently motivated to change things. It requires correcting what’s out of whack for the good of the overall system.

Plugging one’s ears ignores bitter roots of unhappiness and perpetuates upheaval and riotous behavior. While conflict may go underground for a while, it will be back.

So leaders, stop talking at us. Unheard, unhappy people overthrow the status quo one way or another. Today’s happy Americans may too soon be the unhappy ones again.

Figure it out. Get to the root of the country’s problems and quit focusing on symptoms.  Attempt to understand what everyone needs. Seek balance over partisan and ideological victory.

Oh, that King’s wisdom and words would not fall on deaf ears. Leaders must listen.

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