AND Make Sure You Have the Full Picture

January 24th, 2016

In this country, the election process for President seems to go on forever. Early on the ads are manageable. Now, as we get closer to primary season, the ads on television make it barely watchable. One thing that makes me shake my head, among many in the political process, is what the candidates leading in the polls seem to be reflecting back about us, as a nation.

Are we becoming an entitled society that expects our leaders to fix whatever is not working in our lives? When I read or hear that the young people in our society are supporting the most blustery idealists on both sides of the political spectrum, I get concerned. It feels like shades of the movie, Dead Poets Society repeating themselves in our elections.

In the movie, Robin Williams plays a magnetic and inspiring teacher who pushes students to seize the day, carpet diem. As the class studies the Romantics and listens to the teacher, they gain the courage to challenge what they have learned thus far about how systems work, at home, at school, and in life, in general. They are inspired to follow their dreams and ignore the rules that keep the systems operating.

Now, I am not about following rules that don’t make sense. However, the ultimate outcome of the movie is that a young student decides to pursue his dreams and ignore the parental context that supports his attending the private school. When he returns home and declares his intent to follow his dreams, the current reality of the family stops him in his tracks. Unable to handle the gap between the ideal world his teacher has been preaching and the family situation in which he finds himself, he commits suicide.

The element missing from the teacher’s inspiring classroom about dreaming and following dreams, is that the teacher, while teaching the power of the Romantics, failed to also cover the Realists. AND the students were ill-equipped to recognize that while dreaming and breaking through boundaries are both essential for change, what is equally essential is a good honest look at how present systems work in order to know how to work with them to create change.

Beware the blustery idealists who promise a fix to all our problems. Because when reality sets in, we have to recognize that we are the people who will foot the bills. AND the more idealistic and entitled we become, the more dependent we become on paternalistic leadership. In order to have the perfect world the paternalistic leader has named for us without realizing that we will pay to make it a reality, we will need to ignore reality and defer our own accountability for choices to some super power official to make them for us. AND we will pay dearly for that naiveté.

Teach the Romantics AND make sure to also teach the Realists. We need the full picture to make great choices.

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