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Where Power Resides

Washington is broken.


When that phrase is uttered, what is meant is that the people elected to office have done a poor job leading. The people “elected to office,” have not performed their duties like most people expect. Gridlock. Negative rhetoric. The same men and women in office for years making little progress on issues or policies or problems. That’s what is meant when someone says Washington is broken. Personally, visiting the city is fun and always a bit energizing. Lots going on, good food, and enough to see to stimulate most imaginative people.

The power of Washington, though, at least from how our current government is framed, resides with people from all over the country. Whoever is President of the U.S., whether it’s Obama or Trump, they were voted in and the power really doesn’t reside with them. The power ultimately resides when we the people vote.

Whoever wins an Academy Award also is given power by critics or peers or the press. Ultimately, though, also by the people who pay hard earned money to watch movies. After all, movies don’t really have the influence and certainly celebrities would not have influence if we the people didn’t elevate their opinion or support their platform.

There is a geography to power that doesn’t always get discussed. People wait to hear from Rome. Others follow the trends of New York and Paris. Some wait to hear what Hollywood says, while others will say that the mountains or ocean is calling their name. The geography of power, though, truly lies within our own hearts and this frustrates us because it’s the hardest place for us to stay true to and to stay present.

Look at the following two phrases:

Politicians say hateful things about the very people they promise to serve. Washington is broken.

I feel worn out by the negativity and the vile language of those voices currently being amplified. I feel, at times, sucked in to the mire and the mess which is not who I want to be. My heart is broken.

Which is more powerful?

I think it’s why so many people still respect figures like Gandhi, Jesus, Mother Theresa, or Martin Luther King, Jr. Their power and influence was not dependent on public opinion, celebrity status, or political title. The geography of power truly reveals itself when we embrace the fact that it’s inside all of us. After all, it’s hard to change anything from a distance. So, if Hollywood says something or Washington says something, well, fine, but ah, the power of a lover and the influence of a friend! Because what will fix a broken world is not an ideal political leader, but healthy relationships. Neither Washington or Hollywood are known for healthy relationships, they’re known, often, for the opposite. So, don’t stay there or join the circular chorus of criticism and complaint, move toward those that fill your heart, those that encourage a healthy curiosity and reckless love—and wherever you find them, the world seems a bit less negative, more hopeful, and frankly, at times, it’s downright beautiful.





photo credit: Cuzco84 <a href="">The Eagle</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

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As a University director of study abroad in Central Texas, ideas and stories matter. These reflections are for pilgrims making progress.