I was humbled the other night. My husband and I were guests at a dinner party along with some of the smartest, most active and accomplished people in Seattle. Among our companions were two women who, unintentionally, sent me home feeling rather inferior.
The first of these is long-time Seattle television anchor, Susan Hutchison, currently chair of the Washington State Republican party. The second is Lisa Carlson, best recognized by some as the wife of Seattle media personality and political influencer, John Carlson, yet a powerhouse in her own right. She is extremely active in the Jennifer Dunn Leadership Institute, whose mission is to, “recruit and train leaders in Washington State that are committed to the principles of freedom, security, entrepreneurial free enterprise, and a return of conservative principles of governance.”
These women, like me, have been devastated at election results and trends in Washington State over the last few cycles. Yet, unlike me, they have stepped into the breach and are putting in hours and effort to foment change. Disheartened as I am with the national Republican Party I am opting out, while they are channeling their frustration into increased focus in the state arena.
I assuaged my guilt by reminding myself of a talk I once heard from the principal of an east coast girl’s high school. Heavily involved in the community, she knew that there was a continuous stream of families dealing with illness or troubled marriages, in mourning after a loved one’s death or facing other difficulties. This woman watched as friends of hers stepped forward with a casserole, drove extra carpools or filled in with the myriad tasks that overwhelm those in crisis. She felt badly at doing none of these things despite her sympathy for those in need.
She then shared an epiphany she had. This principal realized that she was wrong to compare herself with others. She wasn’t ignoring other people’s pain; she was using her unique talents and abilities to help in ways best suited to her personality. Knowing so many people through her position, she served as a resource center, introducing individuals to others whose skills they needed. Utilizing her extensive experience with youth, she was a listening ear and compassionate advisor to families having trouble with their teenagers. She enjoyed researching solutions to problems and disliked cooking; why should she judge herself by how many suppers she provided, no matter how necessary and appreciated they were?
Politics is a tremendous blessing. Deciding issues through voting booths is massively better than doing so with brute force. Yet, for me, the more aware I am of what goes on behind closed doors, the more disillusioned I become. I am grateful that Susan and Lisa are fighting that fight, but it isn’t for me. I hope that articulating my views helps them to do a more effective job, but I am not going to join them in the trenches.
What I hope I can do is to change hearts. If my writing and speaking can encourage others to devote themselves to their children’s upbringing and education, provide strength for people to press through disappointment while striving to build an income stream and/or hearten couples to dedicate themselves to their marriage despite rocky shoals, I will be satisfied that I am making my contribution. We all have a need to give to others and to our community. How fortunate we are that by creating us with infinite variety, God grants us many varied avenues for doing so.
Am I rationalizing or reasonable?
What’s your unique contribution? Tell me in the comment section below
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What a pair!
11 thoughts on “Humble Pie or Goulash?”
You must do best with your own resources and talents. You could do more harm than good if you are not adept or polished in politics. Use your strengths as you are already doing! You made the right call Mrs. Latin, I’m sure the Rabbi would say the same.
I love the way you phrased this: I’m just trying really, really hard to be the person I want them to be (in character).
I like it. I also feel this way about politics. Right now, I am a stay at home mom to two girls and I’m just trying really, really hard to be the person I want them to be (in character).
You remind me of a story about my father. My father served on the Intrepid aircraft carrier in the South Pacific in WWII. The Intrepid was kamakazied four or five times, and since my father wasn’t a medic, or even a seaman, he could neither help with the wounded nor shore up the ship. The U.S. Navy had sent him to school to learn how to supervise the mechanics who worked on the planes. So when the planes struck, others took action, while he stood by. This was not in his nature. It was very hard on him. It was the hardest part of the whole war, he told me.
Susan, we are all in the same boat, so to speak, are we not? As you wrote “She wasn’t ignoring other people’s pain; she was using her unique talents and abilities to help in ways best suited to her personality.” Good perspective. Let us each contribute in the ways we can.
May God bless you and your family.
Thanks, John. I’m going to look for the book as soon as we’re a bit cleared of boxes here.
Very Reasonable! In fact you’re probably doing more than most people that are “working in politics.” Seriously.
I’m a special assistant to a Chairman of the Republican Party at the state level… and at the end of the day I believe our family helps more people through our day to day business relationships as we encourage our clients to think for themselves and dig deeper than just what appears on first sight.
The people who will ultimately decide the elections are mostly looking out for whoever will give them the biggest handout and best promises that make them feel good. The solution, of course, is to prompt them to think deeper. You and your husband are accomplishing this task through your work. Keep it up!
BTW have you ever read Who’s Listening by Leonard E. Read? This is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s along these lines… explaining about how true freedom can never be promoted long term through a political part and/or candidate and why the best way to make a difference is by 1) listening and learning ourselves and 2) Sharing our understanding one on one at the personal level as each person is ready for it.
I’m sure you would enjoy the message and resonate with the nuggets of truth in each chapter!
The book is not print anymore but you can still get it here:
Used Copy from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Whos-Listening-Leonard-Read/dp/0910614482
Free pdf from Mises.org: http://mises.org/document/4031/Whos-Listening
What a fascinating perspective, Lori. I do think changing the culture will lead to changes in legislation rather than the other way around.
I completely understand your point of view. I actually jumped into the trenches along with these women and became a Precinct Committee Officer (PCO) for my precinct and worked on behalf of several candidates that I felt strongly about. BUT, as time has progressed, it has become clear that party politics overshadows the principles that we need in our public servants and, more than anything, the real change for this nation will only come when people turn their faces to G-d!
Thanks Jean and James. I admire Susan Hutchison and Lisa Carlson, and believe me, they aren’t doing their work out of anything other than a true desire to help this country. They certainly do not get kudos for the hard work they put in and most of it is behind the scenes.
It’s real easy to be humbled when we compare ourselves with others who may be more prominent or who make a bigger splash in Public Relations. Some are blessed (or cursed) with great public acclaim, while most of us are not.
But in your column you remind us on a weekly basis that our politics is the sum total of our outlook on life, and that includes our relation to the Divine. Not everyone who reads your Musing is fool enough to comment like I am, but you can bet that your posting is read by a great many people who offer no comment.
Ms. Susan, thank you for each and every weekly vista of philosophy. You are changing the world with your insights. You need not feel inferior to anybody, just because their PR garners enormous media attention for them. The orchestra needs instruments of all kinds, not just those who play tuba or trombone.
You’re reasonable. You are trying to change (heal) the culture. When there is enough of a shift, then the election results will change, because the population as a whole won’t see government as the end-all and be-all of its existence, and its primary job is to impose “fairness” – whatever that is – on society. When you have a culture that demands a trophy for showing up and thinks that the prosperous of our country should have their wealth stripped so the “poor” can afford new Air Jordan tennis shoes whenever they want them, you have a culture that can’t comprehend that behavior and choices have consequences. Change that mindset and you’ve changed everything.
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