All Commentary
Monday, May 16, 2016

No, We Are Not Screwed

Politics Does Not Have to Disempower Us

“In our effort to be honest about our problems, it is not necessary that we cease to be mindful of our potential.” – Freedom Without Permission: How to Live Free in a World That Isn’t

To my friends who insist on saying things like “we’re screwed” in response to some political candidate gaining momentum in their campaign: No, we are not screwed.

We are not screwed unless we voluntarily decide to look at ourselves as a bunch of powerless dopes who can’t do anything besides complain and cry when a political event doesn’t go our way.

It’s not only self-defeating to think and speak in this manner, but it perpetuates the problem of exaggerating the power of politicians and downplaying the power of the individual.

There will always be people, situations, and events that we can’t control. And there will always be creative things we can do to create a freer society in spite of those things. There’s nothing wrong with being frustrated by an undesirable political outcome, but it only makes things worse when we use such situations as evidence that everything is inevitably going to hell regardless of the reactions and responses we choose to have.

We are not defined by the politicians who beg, grovel, perform, and plead for our votes. We are defined by the fact that we are a people with a voice, with a power to imagine, and with a capacity to innovate that cannot and will not ever be extinguished by any political regime.

Go ahead and bemoan all the bad policies and politicians you hate. Life is only going to give you so many opportunities to complain before it forces you to get back to work anyway. So go ahead and get it all out of your system.

When you’re done, however, I invite you to entertain the radical possibility that you are a being who still has power, who still has options, who still has the potential to create massive change after your vote has been cast, after your most hated political candidate has won, and after you’ve been let down (yet again) by the things you can’t control.

When we truly wake up to our potential, the only thing that will be screwed will be the sources of indoctrination that are apparently doing a fantastic job at convincing us that we have no other option than living in constant fear of unwanted political outcomes.

Instead of sitting around feeling inconsolably screwed by the latest bit of political scandal or the latest act of political stupidity, let’s invest our time, attention, and energy into conversations and activities that offer us a way forward. We don’t have to lie to ourselves about the screwed up stuff that’s going on, but we also don’t have to treat it like it’s the end-all-be-all of our existence either.

T.K. Coleman is the Education Director for Praxis and a member of the FEE faculty network. To hear more of T.K.’s ideas on freedom, entrepreneurship, and the economic way of thinking, consider attending one of our upcoming FEE seminars in your area.

T.K. will be speaking and leading group discussions at the following three FEE conferences in June:

  • T.K. Coleman is the Education Director at FEE and a co-host for The Minimalists Podcast.