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Election Day is around the corner.  How do you feel about your choices? 

We can argue, debate and strategize what to do around elections, like the one this Tuesday (...and we do!).  Vote red, vote blue, hold your nose and vote damage control, vote green or abstain.  We act indignant and outraged as if this election is somehow unique in history for being subject to compromise.  

What might we do to feel, and be, more empowered in the electoral/governance process that drives our states and countries?

What other choices in your life do you, or have you, given up on or put in the hands of others? .

Describe a time you took your power of personal choice back. 

Read more and add to the conversation here ...

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Trying to go in two opposite directions at once is not a diversity of tactics, Jitendra, it is a failure to choose a direction.

I agree that the quest for human dignity is worth dedicating one's life to.

Do you think that a President who promised to end torture but has allowed it continue, has respect for human dignity?

Do you think that a President who personally asserted the right to imprison and kill US citizens without due process, has respect for human dignity?

Do you think that people who vote in an election where the only two candidates with any chance of winning would both allow torture to continue and retain the right to imprison and kill US citizens without due process, have respect for human dignity?

I know that you think that one candidate is less of a psychopath than the other, but do you actually think that somebody who drone bombs innocent people and uses depleted uranium weapons isn't a psychopath?

Do democracies wage wars of aggression based on lies? Are the wars Obama (not Bush--Bush only did Iraq and Afghanistan) started in Pakistan, Yemen, Mali, Libya, Somalia, and Syria not violent? How can voting for him not be espousing violence? Is claiming to oppose violence but voting for somebody who is one of the most violent people in the world, not hypocrisy?

Of course you cannot convince me, because I used to believe the same things you do and I was a voter and helped with political campaigns and to register voters for many years, so I've seen through the old canards about voter apathy, doing nothing, the bad guys will win, and all the others that I refuted in "You've Got to Stop Voting"

And I'll never convince you because you never answer my questions. I wonder if you even bother to read them or think about them, or just grab your political party script and repeat or reword the first irrational argument you see.

Not all sports are win/lose. There are win/win games too. If democracy ever comes to the United States, there certainly will be a few losers, like Goldman Sachs and Monsanto, but even they and their children will benefit from a healthier economy and a healthier planet.

Mark, this is just delightful. What a fantastic argument.

Thank you, Shikha. I've been thinking about these things for a long time.

For all the data you have Mark...  for all the 'expertise' you may have on a give well-defined field...(and your are quite articulate as I mentioned before)... you seem to have a level of confidence... perhaps even a smugness that may be your nemesis.  Nature has it ways of equalizing forces... from an order higher than human can grasp.

Surely you are no more or less able to predict what will happen than anyone else, educated or not, well researched & studied or not.  You are kicking yourself in you own ass to dismiss all others ideas, actions, others 'knowings' but your own.  Surely one who has true intelligence would realize the vastness of their own limitations.

It is fundamental and quite logical that growth comes to him who is tentative about what he 'knows' and who is open to the most infinite possibilities.  But one who is certain they 'know' is truly ignorant.  So, are sitting up on a white horse, the hero... judging everything and everyone... trying to demonstrate you are as far as growth will take you? 

To me there is nothing more important and precious, the simple act of love.  It takes no data, no special intelligence, no education or advance degrees.  But, it is beyond the reach of most of us to any significant degree....................... as yet.

Some things really are knowable and predictable, Dyck.

For example, if somebody takes a pan of water and says, "I'm going to boil this water," and sticks it in the freezer, or they say, "I'm going to freeze this water," and puts the pan on a lit stove burner, I think you can predict that they won't accomplish their stated goal.

Now they might think you smug or arrogant for saying that what they're doing won't accomplish what they say they want to do, but you're still right. You can't boil water by putting in the freezer, or freeze it by heating it on the stove.

Am I guilty of not loving others if I say that voting for war won't bring about peace?

Am I guilty of not loving others if I say that voting for war isn't non-violence?

Am I guilty of not loving others if I say that no matter who wins this sham of an election, the wars will continue, so those who vote are voting for war?

Am I guilty of not loving others if I say that the only way that we can show that this war-addicted government doesn't represent our will and does not have our consent, is by not voting in its elections?

Perhaps I'm wrong in not loving war criminals. Perhaps this existence is such agony that they are doing people a favor by putting them out of their misery before their natural time is up, even if they inflict the utmost possible humiliation and suffering while doing it. Perhaps I just don't have the bigger picture. Where would we be if the billions of Native Americans hadn't been slaughtered when Europeans came to Turtle Island? Where would we be if the billions killed in WWII had survived to reproduce? Perhaps wars are a necessary means of population control for an ecologically nonviable species incapable of controlling its reproductive rate in accordance with available resources. I've thought about those things too, Dyck.

Some will go to their deaths voting for war because they believe its the only way to bring about peace. I've been called smug, arrogant, a know-it-all, clinically insane, and a lot worse, including much that is unprintable, but I'll go to my death continuing to tell people that granting their consent of the governed to a violent, war-mad government, is not a peaceful, nonviolent, harmonious, transcendent, or loving thing to do.

And that all it will do, no matter how they vote or who they vote for, is demonstrate their consent to ongoing wars.

Words don't do well in describing love. But words can imply if it is absent or unimportant.  'Telling' people... what they are doing is does no good, or that it will not change anything.... How does that make me feel?  Does it change what I do?  This reaches beyond offering facts or opinions.

I'm getting pretty frank, Mark and have no intent to harm.  I'm using my pattern of taking a risk of being frank to challenge your pattern of dooming others, in hopes it will only deepen our relationship.  I acknowledge all I say here is contextual, limited to  recent dialogue, and my own sense.  My intention is to say what some of your words make be feel like... not to be critical of you.  And this cannot negate my affirmations of your keen articulation, especially around the election process.  I also quite admire your passion and your 'saneness' if there really is such a thing.

Could it be that what you are doing is same thing you accuse 'others' (& the system) of?  That is, never changing, not listening or respecting you, perhaps even deception?

If you are providing doom for the good of others... so they might see reality (and futility perhaps),  Why would you say to someone who has planned, constructed, and is in the midst of a campaign action "what you're doing won't work?"  This is easily viewed as alienating behavior & SELF aggrandizement- giving the message "You will fail in all you do, if you don't have my approval.... and I don't give my approval to anything because its all impossible to change."  If its useful, treat this as a mirror one personal is holding up.  If not, just ignore it.

Thank you, Dyck.

I just started reading a book called, Chernobyl: Crime Without Punishment, by Alla A Yaroshinskaya. After the meltdown of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl seriously irradiated nine million people in Russia and serious increases in radiation were measured as far away as South America, the authorities told the Russian people living in the area of Chernobyl that they and their children were perfectly safe. Those who complained of radiation illness were diagnosed with "radiophobia," a psychosomatic illness the doctors quickly invented, and told it was all in their heads. The government classified everything about the accident as secret, so that the public could not be told the radiation levels and the names of those who died could not be recorded. Years later, the documents where these decisions had been made at the highest levels were found with the signatures of those government officials who had made the decisions, but nobody was ever punished.

Some people, like the journalist Yaroshinskaya who'd lived in the area with her children at the time, tried to uncover the truth, but could not get published. The media had been warned not to publish such things. Some who persisted had their careers ruined or even met with mysterious accidents.

Chernobyl is still leaking radiation. A new sarcophagus will cover the old sarcophagus, but neither one is capable of containing the leak. Chernobyl happened 25 years ago. Twenty-five years from now, Fukushima will still not be contained. But by then many other unsafe and aging nuclear reactors will have melted down.

But not every country is the same. Germany made the decision to shut down its nuclear reactors.

Obama recently licensed two new nuclear reactors. He hasn't shut any down--his administration keeps extending the licenses of nuclear reactors operating well past their planned decommissioning date, even if they have bad safety records with many accidents and have been fined several times for not initiating the safety procedures they were ordered to the last time they were fined.

Romney would do no better. Our government is no more capable of respecting human life and human dignity than the Soviet government was, or the Japanese government. It's just another bureaucracy where those in power do whatever the rich and powerful who put them in power by financing their campaigns and spending billions of dollars to get out the vote, tell them to do.

There is a better way. Some countries are more democratic and allow the people to have a say in policy decisions.

If I tell somebody that what they are doing won't work, and show them what has been proven to work, I'm not providing doom or indulging in alienating behavior or self-aggrandizement--I'm trying to save my own skin and theirs. That may seem trivial to those who are enlightened enough to know that this world and our mortal bodies are mere illusion and don't really matter in the big picture. But is it? Many voters cite reasons for voting that are matters of our physical bodies and how we can live our mortal lives. If they're only concerned with higher planes, why are they voting for mundane considerations?

How is it that I appreciate it when you are blunt and frank, Dyck? How is it that it does result in deepening our friendship? Why don't I take offense and say that you are disrespecting me?

Some things are impossible to change, but other things are not. There's little point ranting about something that is impossible to change, but where things have been changed through the use of certain strategies, what's wrong with telling people which strategies don't work and which ones do?

Getting back to Jitendra's chess game, if you're a chess master and a novice comes up to you during a game and suggests a move that you know will result in you losing the game, why would you listen to them? You know the history of chess, you're a master of the game, and you know that's a bad move. But if you're a novice and a chess master comes up to you and explains a winning strategy, and tells you move by move how to implement it and why it is a winning strategy, why wouldn't you listen? Is the chess master indulging in alienating behavior and self-aggrandizement by helping a novice?

I don't say, "Because I say so," or, "Because I feel like it," or "Because I'm better and smarter than you." I say that I have spent many years studying the problem and I know which strategies are effective and which are not, the same way that a chess master spends years studying the game and can show you which strategies are effective and which ones are not. I explain why certain strategies fail and why others work. It is selfish in a way, because I'm not just trying to save others and save the planet, my own personal survival is also at stake. But I cannot save myself without saving others and the planet, so I have no choice. We're all in the same boat.

Fortunately, my message is spreading and I've attracted many brilliant and thoughtful people to the Election Boycott Movement. But we're up against billions of dollars in corporate advertising to get out the vote, and a population where many still believe the myths and lies the corporations so skillfully use to get out the vote for continued corporate rule--to get people, whether out of habit, fear, or hope, to vote for their own extinction at the hands of the corporate profiteers and their political puppets.

I knew six years ago when I began this crusade, that it was futile, because nobody listened to me. When they couldn't refute my arguments, they attacked my style, my attitude, or me as a person. But there was no other possibility of changing things, so I kept at it. To a small extent, things have changed. There may even be a lower turnout this election, but whether it will be significant enough to bring about change, I cannot predict. So I'm working on the 2016 Boycott, assuming that the 2012 Boycott will fail. Of course I could be wrong--Sunday's successful election boycott in Italy is evidence that anything is possible. I'm human and I can be wrong. There are often times like this when I hope that I'm wrong. But what I may be wrong about is whether there are enough people capable of understanding strategy and choosing an effective strategy over one that isn't effective. I'm not wrong about which strategy has been proven ineffective and which strategy has been proven effective. That is a matter of indisputable fact, like that you can't boil water by putting it in the freezer, but that you can boil it by putting in a pot on the stove and heating it.

At least on this mortal plane. In other realms it may be possible to boil water by freezing it, as this plane is mere illusion. Isn't it strange that so many people are stuck on the illusion of voting?  ;)

You understand the laws of physics and with no doubt you can predict what will happen with the object of your understanding (water) on the stove or in the freezer.

Do you understand the laws of life and consciousness? Can you predict what will happen with me if I vote? Or if I do not vote?

In the realm of global social/financial system we are like water, the objects of operation of the laws and forces we do not understand. I do not want to freeze, I do not want to evaporate. I want to remain in the state I am  - water (an individual full of hope and joy of life).

No, Pawel, I do not understand the laws of life and consciousness.

But I can predict what will happen if you vote or if you do not vote.

If you vote, you will remain, as you prefer, in the state in which you are, an individual full of hope and joy of life.

If you don't vote, and if enough other people don't vote, the US government might not retain enough international credibility to continue its wars of aggression, which have already cost over a million innocent lives, might have to stop extending the licenses of aging and unsafe nuclear reactors which sooner or later will melt down and irradiate millions of people, might not be able to continue to protect Goldman Sachs and other corrupt corporations that are destroying our economy and impoverishing billions of people globally, and might not be able to continue to protect Monsanto by having the Supreme Court strike down any law they feel violates Monsanto's Constitutional rights. I think such drastic changes might make you less hopeful and less joyful, so in your case I'll make an exception and suggest that, for the sake of your own personal equilibrium, you vote.

OK Mark.

I spend a lot of time refusing to examine my choices. One might think, 'oh, this is a very interesting thing,' but I would be terribly unsurprised if this was something very common. It does seem to be common. Let me give everyone the example of smoking. This is obviously not a healthy thing, yet it is easy to justify, 'it is better for me to smoke because I become less of an angry person' or, 'smoking makes me feel better, and doesn't harm the planet'. These arguments are not really very reasonable, we find. Yet we make arguments like this all the time, which is to say, false and absurd ones, for all kinds of things. And maybe this is fine, but is it helpful? Hard to say. Would it be better to examine our choices significantly more closely at the risk of losing precious time and thought? This is not a sensible question. Of course it is better, even though to a degree we are all doomed to be human beings and do human doings, and this is very limiting of course, as far as our choices go. Sometimes we will accidentally act out of anger, or poor judgment, or massive confusion. Sometimes our word choices will be wrong. Any number of things can go wrong. It is awful. But we must be strong, clear, and certain, for this is what will lead us forward in a better, more clear and certain manner, is some loyalty to our choices. I notice that this may be true. Does it make more sense not to really feel so biased in that way? Probably, yes. Will a complete lack of judgment and bias create a helpful human future? Probably, no. So we see that it becomes necessary to be overall more balanced people, with a real desire to do things for the better, not for the worse. We have to really stand up, if we can- to really start building our world from the ground up, as we have, to keep building on it. It is necessary for us to be clearer about our ideas, our choices. This much is very obvious.

Very common, Shikha. Perhaps the human condition in a nutshell. Whatever we find ourselves doing, our minds try to rationalize. A hilarious psychology experiment for which I've lost the source was when when they would have a show with a hypnotist and the hypnotist would ask for a volunteer from the audience. The volunteer would be hypnotized and then told to do something really absurd, like take off their hat, stomp on it, and then put it back on their head, and that they would then wake up and forget that they'd been hypnotized and forget everything that had happened when they'd been hypnotized. After they woke up they'd be shown a video of themself stomping on their hat, and asked why they did it. Unable to recall having been hypnotized and told to do those actions, they'd usually make up stories, sort of like, "Well, I was uncomfortable in front of an audience and I didn't know what was expected of me, so in frustration I took off my hat and stomped on it, and then, not knowing what else to do with it, I put it back on my head." We want to own our actions and feel as if we're in control. So we justify and rationalize.

There are very clever ways in which people like Edward Bernays figured out how to use the mass media to manipulate people so that they wouldn't, according to his daughter, "vote for the wrong man," and most of the billions that the corporations donate to political parties and candidates during elections is spent on public relations and advertising agencies who are experts at doing just that. So you get a situation where Obama, who started more wars and gave much bigger bailouts to corporations than Bush, and who eliminated 900 years of civil and human rights, is seen as being better than Bush, and Romney, who agrees with Obama on most fundamental policy issues, is feared as being worse. People don't see that the system is scientifically and deliberately manipulating them into voting for tyranny, by making one corporate puppet appear to be better or worse than the other corporate puppet. Of course, no matter who people vote for, even if they vote for third party candidates, and no matter which one is selected, Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, the military-industrial complex, and other big campaign donors, will still get to call the shots and make policy. After all, they paid for the ads.

The only question is whether or not the huge marketing expenditure can drive sufficient voter turnout to allow the government to claim that it is a democratically elected government with the consent of the governed and that it represents the will of the people. That's important to their international credibility and credit rating, as Sunday's successful election boycott in Italy proved.

Although I didn't read the article, I just saw a headline about the Democratic Party relying on women this election, probably because Obama appears to be much less of a woman-hater than Romney. However Obama has had almost four years in which to secure women's reproductive rights, and either he never felt the urge or the call, or he was just too busy killing women in seven other countries with drone bombs. Believe me, he could have secured women's rights as easily as he took away the right of US citizens to due process. Just a flip of the pen. But he has his priorities, or they are given to him by his big donors.

Some time back there were studies saying that 80% to 85% of the casualties in modern warfare were women, children, and the elderly, as they tend to be the least mobile, the least able to escape from combat zones, and the least able to mount a defense against tanks and fighter planes. Males are apt to leave the area and often join a resistance or insurgency and fight back rather than just sitting there helplessly trying to do the laundry, cook the meals, and calm the kids.

War is violence, and these days it is mostly violence against women. Since both candidates are pro-war, and the US economy is based on war, anyone who cared about women's rights and women's lives, much less women's dignity, would, in my opinion, refrain from voting. I don't feel that an empire addicted to war can possibly represent me. But that's just my own considered opinion--the opinions of others may vary.


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