Opinion: Serving the Peoplesam
By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
The Path is none other than service of the people.
By nature I am not a political person; I have rarely been interested in politics for a number of personal reasons. Chiefly I find it very hard to understand the mind set that offers, ‘I have solutions for these very complicated problems.’ I am amazed that anyone actually can get vastly divergent groups to agree on anything. In my experience, it is only an emergency or crisis that promotes this level of cooperativeness. Or as in a work/business setting, one person is in charge and ultimately is responsible to make sure the system works.
Democracy- with many people involved making decisions- is very difficult; particularly when a majority of people are interested in government as a way to foster personal agendas, power and money.
Government Not Solving Problems
So, in my view, what we have going on presently is the majority of 2 sets of people- Republicans & Democrats- who are essentially trying to grab something for them selves under the guise of trying to serve/help others. That is why, this present system works so poorly and it takes forever to solve problems.
Second, I don’t really have a solution for our present governmental quagmire, other than people stop being so selfish and look out for others equally as they look out for them selves. This is both a practical and spiritual perspective. In a loving family, members are concerned for others equally as they are concerned for them selves. This is a predominant characteristic; while it may shift from time to time- this is the underlying glue that makes a family work. This higher view can work in government as well, but selfish interest keeps getting in the way.
Selfish (Lower Self) Mentality
My grandfather, who was an immigrant from Russia, used to say the following about local politicians: ‘He/she is not so bad at least they leave a little something for us.’ I can remember a co-worker, who became interested in local politics. As we discussed his growing interest, I asked him about this. He said he was running to become a local part-time official, ‘because that’s where the real money was.’ He wasn’t talking about his small salary for this very part-time position; he was discussing the various kick-backs for permits and access to getting things done.
Back to Thinking of Others
So the question emerges: how do you get people/politicians back to thinking of others as equal to them selves? This answer is very simple- by following a Path to spiritual completion and making them accountable for their actions. All Paths talk about helping others and working toward the common good. This perspective is both a spiritual teaching and a highly practical one as well. While we cannot force another to follow a spiritual path- we personally can do this and seek to make criteria for elected office- serving others.
Also when an official consistently votes for their own personal interest, or the interest of one group over the collective good, they should be removed from office. Officials must help monitor them selves, and I am sure know, when another is not serving the public interest. Additionally we as voters must vote for the best candidate irrespective of political ties; and require candidates to vote for the higher good, transcending party and personal interest. Voting records can be evaluated along this criteria; the only political party is the collective good of the people.
Again, Dream Becoming Reality
You can call me a dreamer, naïve and offer I don’t really know how this system works; further you may state, I live in a fantasy land that is not reality. Well, I would counter, then you have a very limited view of what is possible and what was intended for America. America is a spiritual concept: a land where people are free to reach higher and the weak are helped by the strong; a place/country where people work together toward a common goal, free to help them selves and help others equally.
What has happened, is that government has become a place- mostly where the wolves gather and plan how to take and feed off the efforts of others.
If nothing is done by governmental officials to correct this problem soon, history has shown time and again, how all of this will work out. In 1776 a group of brazen upstarts got tired of being taken advantage of and tumbled a monarchy. It was not easy and there were many sacrifices involved. Perhaps the same thing will happen again or perhaps we can start demanding more from those we elect; requiring officials to be both spiritual and practical, and stop thinking of them selves and help others. Perhaps campaigns for office should center on a candidates record of how they helped the collective good?
Now some people will say how do you judge, what is the collective good? They offer: this is a pretty nebulous and changing thing. I would agree, yet, we do this every day making decisions about our family, community and business lives. We are actually very well adapted at knowing this. It is all about reaching higher and serving others. People know how to do this; we are hardwired with this helping capacity. Just ask any loving mother or father.
We just have to free our self of personal interest, and serve the members of our extended family. And it is only love of doing what is needed and helping others, that allows us to reach higher and accomplish this goal.
About the Author:
Check-out my two books: Sufism for Western Seekers: Path of the Spiritual Traveler in Everyday Life and The Ferryman’s Dream. Both books are also in Kindle format and available on Amazon.com or local bookstore.
To contact author go to www.stewartbitkoff.com.