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Ego and Politics

BY MICHAEL REISIG –

Real personal change cannot actually occur without the painful process of self-criticism, and that requires trimming the hedges of ego and self-aggrandizement. You have to actually hold what’s good for others above your own needs. That’s tough…

The current presidential race is a grand example of the mountains and the wastelands of ego – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having followed it, I’m reminded that relationships of all varieties rarely die a natural death. They are strangled by ego, attitude, and ignorance.

Ego, something most all of us have – some of us too little, many of us too much. Contained within ego is the yin and yang of life – it encourages the acceptance of challenges, it sustains us in our efforts, and it is the motivator for further successes. But it also blurs our sense of humility, and it lessens our ability to see value in other opinions. Ask any politician who stood on the stage at the recent Republican debate, or those of liberal persuasion who are scurrying around the country like blind mice. They will tell you that they are unequivocally right – damn the torpedoes of common sense or rational perception. Most of them (and there are exceptions) have succumbed to ego, or they’re so bloated with the genuine fear of losing, they would sell their soul for the votes of California.

Possessing probably more than an adequate amount of this mercurial commodity, and having known people with sufficient amounts to make me appear as humble as a Buddhist monk, I’ve come to the conclusion that we often confuse the voice of intuition with that of ego. The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, social status, education, and special talents, and ego comes in all sizes, colors, and genders, from Rock stars and quarterbacks to carpenters and gunsmiths. I think one of the mind’s main requirements is to validate your ego – if humility finds its way between the two, it becomes a difficult balancing act.

History has shown us that rulers in the past, from Caesar to Hitler, became so important to themselves that God disappeared and their egos became the sole divinity. (Sounds like a president I know…) Mankind has rarely benefited from that arrangement. I wonder how many soldiers have died, how many battles were lost, and how many times history was changed for the worst, simply for the sake of blind ego.

If you give yourself over to your ego, you become little more than an extension of your achievements and acquisitions, and this burgeoning arrogance will require that you constantly secure new evidence of your importance. It’s a bit of a vicious circle. The trick is to let go of who you imagine you are – to begin to do things, to seek endeavors, that can be accomplished with anonymity. Start small, by dropping a few dollars in a church collection box when no one is looking, or taking in an abandoned animal and not telling anyone you did it, or buying the car that gets good gas mileage instead of the big, pretty one. Who knows, it’s possible if we all began to exercise this obviously contrary concept, we might discover a whole new refreshing sense of person within ourselves. And maybe, if we work hard and become shining examples of whittled egos, this might bleed into our political arena, and our potential leaders might recognize the value of more truth and less ego.

Yeah, right – probably about the same time as pigs fly…

The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ownership and staff of The Polk County Pulse. Michael Reisig is a freelance writer and published author whose works are reproduced throughout the globe.

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