Stephen Colbert says 'our politicians are acting like children.'
They don't only act... they think, feel, and are children inside themselves.
We've witnessed our leaders' childish behavior and attitudes, openly and behind closed doors.
"It's my money. I'm gonna do this with it!"
"No, it's my money. I'm gonna do this with it!"
"You can't tell me what to do with my money."
"You can't tell me what to do at all!"
"It's my money, not yours!"
"If I don't get my way, you'll be sorry . . ."
"If I don't get my way . . . you'll be sorry."
"Uh uh! It's my way or the highway!"
"I don't like playing at your house, you're bad."
"Well I don't like having you over at my house, you're bad."
"Hiss! Spit! Growl! @#%*+$"
And did mommy or daddy break up the children's fight? Not in this summer's debt limit crisis! There was no mommy and no daddy to stop this fight and work out a repair. And no older siblings either.
The "children" involved have been on a course of willfulness and destruction. The clearest way to understand willfulness is somebody doing what they want with an attitude of "the consequences be damned!" The ones who do what they want the consequences be damned are usually glad about the consequences they cause, maybe even taking pleasure in them.
And the most painful immediate consequences are usually experienced by someone else. In this children's fight, the consequences are felt all over our country and world, with the most vulnerable suffering most. Real children. The elderly. Humans unable to take care of themselves and their families.
Part of the destructive course has been the "children" playing chicken... heightening the intensity of feelings so much that, now that "the agreement" has come, everyone is "supposed to feel" relief. Just like when you're playing chicken and you don't crash. Or when you're playing Russian roulette and there isn't a bullet in the chamber on your turn. Relief at the end of a round.
This may be the end of a round, but it's clearly not the end of the game! When willful children win once by holding others hostage, it feeds their appetite to keep going.
Part of the destructive course were the stakes the "children" were willing to play their "consequences-be-damned" game with... the word of our country, the integrity to back our commitments to pay our bills, our citizens' safety net, the ripples through our country and our global society, the oceans of fear people felt and feel... and more.
We may not realize or want to realize our politicians are acting like children. We may want to deny our politicians are children dressed up in big bodies and grown-up's clothing. Children they can mask before and after the fight over the debt ceiling being raised. But children during the fight who come out from behind their adult masks, giving us a glimpse of how the children got stuck someplace in their development where willfulness became their driving force. Whatever their histories, "the consequences be damned" has become a common, united driving force amongst them.
We may try to hide from this reality . . . until every once in awhile, we get a real glimpse when someone like Stephen Colbert says: 'Our politicians are acting like children!' It may be a tiny glimpse, but it is a glimpse worth expanding.
How can we make healthy choices to support and even vote for people . . . or not . . . if we can't tell whether they're being children or adults? How can we make clear, wise decisions as citizens, if we can't tell if someone is playing a game "the consequences be damned"?
This willful stance has become normalized in our society. A well-known media host this very morning said that Obama should have taken a certain stance "the consequences be damned." Whichever side you are on, whichever philosophy you believe, if you are willful, there is a destructiveness in what you do. This is different from standing firm in your integrity.
Politics today is mostly willful . . . and it's not just politics. They simply reflect the willfulness in society.
You may think the crisis in our country was about the debt limit. You may think it was a political crisis, an economic crisis, a philosophical crisis. This is all true on the surface. But at the deepest levels, it was actually a crisis about "children" acting out willfully and needing to mature. And this crisis needs to be resolved in the House, in the Senate, in the White House, in the homes, communities, businesses . . . all over our country and our world.
© Judith Barr, 2011