ON Kilter: Going forward by going backward is not forward; summoning some self-scrutiny

OPINION – With the last presidential debate behind us and a little less than two weeks left in this election cycle, it goes without saying that saturation has been reached. Maybe it’s time to give ourselves as much scrutiny as we have given our candidates, maybe that’s the last factor in the equation that ought decide our choices.

Although there remain those who are undecided in not only the presidential race, but state and local races as well, the conclusion remains but a ballot check away and, frankly, we’re all ready to get it behind us.

Not indigenous to this election but seemingly more emphatic this term is the notion that our choice of candidate lies in the question: Are we better off than we were four years ago?

And the litmus by which this question is answered seems to be, is it as good as it was before?

Mind if I ask, “before what?”

The mindset of a culture bent upon returning to the good old days of the past is prevalent, but I ask, were they really that good? Really?

Large Wall Street scandals, corporate bailouts, and purchased politicians notwithstanding, the guiltiest culprit of all in the state of our economic woes, I would assert, is the citizenry at large.

For it was not only banks who purchased the unstable loans pitched in the derivatives scandal; who spent the money on consumer goodies?

It was not just Wall Street that borrowed more than it could repay in two of its lifetimes; who packed their houses and garages full of cars and flat screens?

It was we the people who sat idly and continually pacified by feeding our insatiable and unchecked desires; it was we who allowed this to happen.

And now we are experiencing the consequences. Rather than looking within, we are looking for the candidate who will “get things back on track.”

Somewhere along the lines of history, Americans have been sold the lie that having as much as we want as long as we want whenever we want is the American Dream.

Do we really have life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness if we are strapped with debt, war, reckless energy development, and overbearing government control?

Was this what the founders had in mind for us as a free people?

Listen, I understand the necessity for a stable economy but what if the driving force behind our eagerness to get things back on track is a reckless desire to return to the way things were before with little or no consideration to heeding the lessons of what we have been through? What will that accomplish?

I worked for most of my adult life in the trades as a subcontractor and general contractor. I was raised in the work and, between my father’s business and then my own, I witnessed and endured the ups and downs of the business.

This last time, I decided to make a change in careers. By imposition of the state of the economy upon me, and by conscious choice, I opted to downsize my life to a more manageable level, regroup, and retool myself for the future.

It was painful at first not to have at whim’s reach the creature comforts that come from the lifestyle a large credit line can bring, but I learned to do it.

And I discovered within me something I had forgotten. I am not what I own. I am not what I can buy on credit or otherwise. The sum total of my existence is based more upon my character and, strange as it may sound, that has more to do with my ability to solve problems than it does to numb them or avoid them.

Our problems nationally have largely to do with our willingness to allow actual core values to become confused with insatiable desire. And whom we vote for and why will demonstrate this.

If we cast our votes on the promise of a return to the way things were, we are in essence saying we have not learned anything at all and we are going backwards, not forward.

There are in this country from the smallest of office to the largest, candidates running on platforms of forward-thinking agendas whose mantras are not the archaic redundancies of years past but rather real-time acquiescence to our current state and realistic assessment of how to move forward, not backwards.

The mantra of our now century-old industrial business model is premised in a notion that is at best a fallacy. On a long enough timeline, unending growth and consumption eventually fail and we are seeing that now manifest across the country and the world.

Now more than ever, as the very resources we depend upon to maintain our fragile and finite lifestyles are being depleted and running out, (think oil and water), we are presented the choice to decide how to move forward.

Moving backwards simply cannot be an option. It will be fatal.

Perhaps this election cycle, we should look within at how we live our lives and how we will sustain our lives in more than the immediate future rather than abdicating to politicians our choices and responsibilities to future generations.

See you out there.

Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Daniel October 24, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Dallas, this was the best written article I have read from you. It was thoughtful without overly bias attacks, talked about the problem without offending any group. I would like to see more of this Dallas Hyland than the one we’ve been getting.

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