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What's Your Sign?

Columnist Bob Havey examines the topic: Political Affiliation and Free Thinking – Are They Mutually Exclusive?

 

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong

(For What It’s Worth – Copyright© 1966 by Stephen Stills)

What’s your sign? A common idiom of the sixties and seventies; this phrase was frequently used as a way of introduction – a means by which to ‘break the ice’ – and as a cheesy pick-up line. There were, however, those who believed in Astrology; the belief that the relative positions of the heavenly bodies at the time of one’s birth had a direct effect on their personality.

I fall under the sign, Scorpio. Some of the traits associated with Scorpio’s are – Determined and forceful - Emotional and intuitive. Powerful and passionate - Exciting and magnetic. Ah, so true. Obviously, there’s a lot to be said for this astrology stuff.

A few of the other traits attributed to Scorpios are, Jealous and resentful - Compulsive and obsessive - Secretive and obstinate. Hmmm! Now that I think about it; there’s obviously nothing to this astrology stuff.

The issue I have with astrology is that much like our political system, it endeavors to place us in a predetermined category based upon a label – in the case of astrology an astrological sign, and in the case of politics, an affiliation with a particular political party or philosophy. The individual is totally discounted.

I’m pretty much apolitical. I have an aversion for politics in general and politicians more specifically. However, having said that, I will acquiesce to the fact that; until we find something better, politics is a necessary evil. Politicians I can do without. Harsh? Perhaps, but that’s the way I feel.

I’m constantly asked about my political persuasion. I’m not overly fond of being classified, categorized and put in a box so I’ve come up with the answer with which I feel the most comfortable;  I’m a moderately conservative Hippie Libertarian with a half twist.

The reactions I get to this tongue-in-cheek response, which is actually more a reflection of my attitude toward those who would attempt to pigeon-hole me than it is my political leanings, are hilarious! Go figure!

I find the question of my political affiliation to be nothing more than a scurrilous attempt to position me in the interrogators personal sorting bin; a place where I have no desire to be. My rather inane response is more of a defense mechanism than a serious answer; fashioned to repel the pretentious probing of the would-be political pundit. I have not a single modicum of interest in playing the labeling game. In the words of the renowned philosopher, Homey D. Clown, “Homey don't play that!"

Some have political leanings so far out on the fringe – so far to the left or right of center, that they’re darn near ready to topple over the edge and come around to the other side. They live on the periphery. Intelligent debate and the free exchange of information and ideas go out the window, replaced by one-sided, closed-minded rhetoric.

I don’t get it! Why would a seemingly rational individual submit to any one political viewpoint? It seems that in many, if not most cases regarding politics; sides are chosen, viewpoints are set in stone, lines are drawn and intelligent discussion is stifled in the name of political affiliation. Is this not divisive - prejudicial? Does one who gives up the ability to form their own thoughts not place themselves in the category of the mundane?

Those who read my column regularly will notice a resounding theme in my writings. Last Tuesday’s offering, , spoke of examining the difference between how others may see us and who we truly are, as well as the importance of each of us finding our unique identity.

My Nov. 23 column, addressed the fact that many of us are two different people, the person we are on the inside, and the person we are on the outside – and the fact that we sometimes hide our true selves behind a mask of deception.

Today’s column, as well as the aforementioned two, cries out for the steadfast pursuit of individualism - independent thinking. I suppose that’s always been very important to me, most likely because I’ve always felt the pressure to conform – to give up my independence. My response to this pressure has always been dogged defiance toward any attempt to mold me; to make me part of the herd. I’ve always believed that we were born to be free – to be people, not sheeple; to be independent thinkers – not mindless, brainwashed dregs – Stepford wives or husbands.

Please understand, I’m not advocating the Timothy Leary mantra of the sixties, Turn on, tune in, drop out. Been there – done that – doesn’t work! There is room within any system for those who do not function well within that system – for those to whom conformity is blasphemous. Confused? Let me say it another way.

I once saw a t-shirt that said, I’m a free-thinking, intellectual, subversive non-conformist….and I vote. Our system allows for, even encourages participation from anyone choosing to do so. The system is not the problem. The abuse and manipulation of the system is the problem. The abuse of power is the problem. Greed is the problem. Self-serving political hacks are the problem. Need I go on?

During the political and social upheaval of the 1960’s, there were two distinct camps - the, America, love it or leave it crowd and the America, love it or change it faction; the former being totally sold out for whatever our country did, no matter what, while the latter embraced change where change was deemed necessary. I’m fairly certain you can guess which group I embraced.

It is possible to work within the system without being a part of, or being devoured by it. Sitting apathetically in a corner does nothing! Choose to do something, whatever course it may follow.

There are coming up in Easton this coming April. You’ll be asked to choose a new selectman to occupy the seat being vacated by Irwin Cohen; a choice that will have a direct impact on the policies that affect you and your family. So far, Dan Smith, Todd Gornstein and Patrick Goodman have joined the race.

You’re probably thinking that I’m urging you to vote. I’m not. That’s your business. Most will tell you that it’s your responsibility to vote – an obligation; that men and women fought and died to protect that right. That’s nonsense! They fought and died to protect your right to be free – to make your own decisions – to be an individual.

Vote or don’t vote. The choice is yours.

Be free!

S. Murray September 04, 2012 at 12:28 PM
That T shirt sounds like the late George Carlin quote......As to voting or not yes it is your right. However, if you choose not to vote you also are choosing to not to complain about whomever is in office and their activities. Just my 2 cents
Bob Havey September 04, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Thanks! I appreciate your taking the time to comment. Unfortunately, given the prevailing economic climate; the expression, "Just my 2 cents" has been changed to, "Just my 20 cents'.

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