The Poker of Politics
Our times, this 21st Century, have finally built the Tower of Babble. Theoretically, everyone of us on the Earth has today the ability through the Internet to add our voice to the already scrambled mass of opinions daily assaulting our ear drums and eyeballs. The words pouring forth today from all these mouths are – indeed what are all these words? What are they communicating, if anything?
As a lifelong writer I have learned two things about words. They may either be selected and offered most carefully, attending to their several fairly precise dictionary meanings, or their meanings may be entirely ignored and – instead – we may wield them like sharp-pointed emotional knife thrusts in order to have an effect on a listener or a viewer. Words focus a verbal spotlight upon some specific conclusion or prejudice we have personally acquired from our life experiences.
Whether we want it to or not, what we more commonly write seems mostly to resemble the very last point: we speak and write to put forward our personal prejudices. The trick of writing is we may use it to disguise our prejudices. We may pretend our prejudices represent thinking. They rarely do that. It is more honest to admit that they simply mirror acquired prejudices that we have formed from all others we have listened to, rather than conclusions from thinking.
The basic homework required to become a writer is learning how to think on your own. Pretend writers don’t do a lot of this.They produce words and prejudices, bu rarely do they take the time to think. Instead, they write as if they were playing poker. Poker is played half by facts (the real value of specific cards) and by bluffing (pretending to have specific valuable cards). That’s what makes Poker such a fascinating card game.
Life is not a card game, however, no matter how many people live theirs as if it were. Politics is played best like a poker game. It is not to be conducted too seriously if one wants to win. People rarely vote for serious leaders who will actually serve their interests That’s not as much fun as betting on entertaining ones. Clowns attract more attention than animal trainers, though the animal trainer’s job is more difficult, and dangerously serious.
The thinking part of any real writer is the hardest part of his trade, because you must learn how to master the art of real thinking. Thinking has been defined by scientists, meditation teachers, and psychologists as a specific activity of the brain. That activity is allowing your serious thinking to be conducted subconsciously. How it works is fairly simple.
If you will provide your conscious mind a well-stated problem or puzzle that you wish to understand, and if you will then mentally go off and do something else for a length of time, giving the problem no more thought, you will find repeatedly that some time later a solution (sometimes several) will spontaneously enter your conscious mind. It takes some practice, but the solutions are persistently daring and surprisingly effective.
I made my living most of my life doing this – as a marketing consultant, video producer, and writer. It allowed me to work for myself rather than some large corporation. It put money in my pocket. But more important, it put unique thoughts into my mind. And eventually, sailing shed some rather bright light on the process.
Watching the recent election from the perspective of a skipper out at sea on the supremely quiet ocean, I silently observed what happens in your mind when you are alone, freqently out of touch with the daily Babble of the media. There is no doubt this is a keen meditative practice that opens several unique doors of perception. After I returned to land, I watched recent events, primarily still from an I-Phone connecting me to dozens of news sources from several countries.
My internal silence continues as I observe today’s international media Tower of Babble. I perceive some possible and a few probable facts, but mostly I see many clownlike jumps through many deceptive hoops and many lurking pratfalls on the sawdust floor of our national political circus.
Sometime soon, my Website Master, a digitally-enchanted fellow on the East Coast, is due to provide me new Blog software that allows my readers to comment from their own computers about any of my coming commentaries. They, you, become my collaborators.
Keep your eye out for this technological gambit. I think we may all find it fun to collaborate, commenting together about the emerging pattern of our newly-elected president and his particular three ring circus. It will be a lot like a Poker game, I suspect. The stakes will be very high. We all have a lot to win, or to lose. I believe we all need to learn how to use this peculiar digital writing tool. The new guy used it to get elected. We may hope we can use it to retain some degree of control over our ever elusively alleged tiller of Democracy.
The odds-on winner, him or us, remains decidedly uncertain.