Understanding Politics

(An Imaginary Conversation)

In the bleachers of a little league ball field, a young girl ambles up and sits next to her uncle in that carefree “I have nothing else to do so I might as well bother you and maybe get some money out of you for the Snack Shack in the process” attitude that only an eleven year old can get away with. Her uncle smiles at her, which isn’t enough. She asks, “do you take that book everywhere you go?”

“Nope. Only to places like baseball games. Watching baseball only takes about ten percent of my brain. The other ninety percent needs to be occupied if I am to sit through the whole thing.”

“Ugh!” She puts her hands up in claw-like fashion on either side of her head, “I know… baseball is so boring!! I don’t even know why I have to be here.”

“Baseball is not boring, I just need help sitting through it. And, you are here because both of your parents are here.”

She flips her head and shifts her attention to the field making it clear that his answer did not count. “But, I never see you reading.”

“Oh, I do, but only for a moment. This book is not really for reading, it is for thinking.” She looks at him and squints her eyes in the way that tells him she doesn’t understand. He opens the little book and shows her a page. “See? It is just short little entries. I read one and think about it for a while.”

“Haven’t you finished it yet?”

“Many times over. I have had this book about twice as long as you have been alive.” She looks at him with a crinkled brow that tells him she thinks he is crazy. “I think it would be hard for you to understand.” She shrugs her shoulders and looks back to the field.

A few moments pass and she was still sitting there. Her uncle decides to take advantage of the gift. “Do you know why I don’t think you would understand?” She makes no sign that she even heard. “It is because you are eleven, and perfect.” To this she turns and gives a sweet, but devious smile. “When you get older, you will lose that perfection.”

“No, I won’t.”

“Yes. I am sorry, but you will. We all do.”

She looks at her uncle with a playful smugness, “No. You all do, but not me.”

“Do you even know what it is that makes you perfect?” Her smile becomes toothy and her eyes flash with the opportunity to list off a huge silly list of things. Her uncle cuts her off, “It is because, at eleven, your Intentions and your Actions are still locked together in perfect alignment.” As he says this he makes a dramatic show of folding his hands together. “That means you do exactly what you want to do in the moment you want to do it.” She shrugs at an idea so obvious, and loses interest like a brick falling from a skyscraper. Her uncle presses on.

“When we get older we all become imperfect, because we have to sink into this adult world and deal with all the crazy things adults have to deal with. As a result, our Intentions separate from our Actions.” Pulling his hands apart. She watches the field, but sits still. Her uncle reads it as a miracle. “And if a person is wise, they will work to find a way to regain their perfection, to reconnect their Intentions and Actions, (putting his hands back together) if even just for a moment every now and then.” He lets her sit quietly for a few minutes.

“Can you think of way a person might to do that? To reconnect their Intentions with their Actions?” She gently shakes her head. “Well, first you need to know what grows in the space between Intentions and Actions.” He watches her watch the field for a few seconds. “It’s thoughts. A constant swirling mass of thoughts go round and round our minds in the space between our Intentions and our Actions. When our Intentions are connected to our Actions there is no room for unnecessary thoughts.” As she looks to the field, her brow knits slightly, telling her uncle that she was thinking. “For an adult to reconnect and regain their perfection, they must be able to manage their Intentions. But, to do that they need to be able to get through all those thoughts swirling around their heads. That is why I have this book. To manage our Intentions we need to first clear the thoughts out of the way, and this book is what works for me. For me, the words in this book make all of the thoughts in my head dissolve like putting a drop of soap into a sink of greasy water. Then, the ideas that these words carry, give me access to my Intentions so that I may manage them accordingly.”

“So, why don’t all people have that book?”

“Because one book doesn’t work for everyone. Each person has to find their own way. And, unfortunately, most people don’t even know they have to do work to make themselves perfect again… But, that is a part of life too.”

She looks expectantly as she sees a thought lighten her uncles face, “What?”

He spends a moment thinking, and says, “I think I have just figured out a perfect way to explain this to you. Do you know how annoying the news is on TV with all the politicians talking on and on about nothing?”

“Yes! That is soooo annoying!! Why does anyone watch it?”

“Well, if you think of our whole country as if it were a single person, our Intentions and our Actions have become separated, and the politician’s endless yammering is the boiling sea of thoughts going round and round our heads, slowly driving us crazy.”

“So, we either need a book, or become eleven like me.”

Her uncle laughs at the perfect insight, “I am sure that we cannot become eleven again, and I don’t think there is a book out there that will silence the politicians and get this country to reconnect its Intentions back to its Actions. But, I think if we did find something that could do that, it would go down in history as a miracle.”

“Yeah. Everyone should just watch Sponge Bob.” She says absently, “Can I have a dollar for the Snack Shack?”

“Most definitely. You have earned it.”