Throughout my life, I have listened to others, and at times -- at least during my younger years -- I obeyed some of those voices and I was led down roads that perhaps I would have been better off if I had not gone. Growing older, I have learned to tell the difference more often between the voices that carry wisdom and those that carry other things, like emotions and passions and even agendas.
I am sure that most of us can remember a time in our lives that someone wanted us to do something. Perhaps a teenage friend who convinced us to sneak out of the house at night; a business associate convinces us to invest in a deal that turns out to be a lousy investment, perhaps even cost us our life savings. There are so many scenarios here but I am sure most of us, if not all, have had our "stupid moments" in our lives.
Many of us -- probably all of us -- have allowed the influences throughout our lives to affect the directions we took in life. Perhaps it was in a good way for most of us. Our parents for example: If our parents were good parents then their influence would be most likely a positive influence in our life. Maybe they pushed us to go to college and now thanks to that college education we are enjoying a prosperous life, or they simply loved us and taught us to love others. Then some of us have not been so fortunate.
Most likely, for many of us we have had our bad influences. Perhaps a commercial advertising some kind of beer helped lead us down a road to a beer-belly or even a diseased liver. Maybe peer pressure led us to pick up smoking when we were teenagers.
There is then the political influence. I am someone who writes mostly about politics, I well know and admit that I am influenced by outer sources, though it is just the news or a political commentary. I get a healthy diet of politics on a Monday through Friday basis, and I try for a diverse mix, CNN, MSNBC and USA Today mostly. Then occasionally John Stewart's The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert's The Colbert Report, just for a few laughs because I love to be influenced to laugh.
You can call me a liberal but it is not because of what I read but what I believe in. I read to stay informed, not to be influenced. That is not saying I am not influenced; I am, but I try to have a good sieve to sift out the rhetoric from what the facts are.
On the other hand, those who watch Fox News all the time is likely to be less informed than the average news watcher. Watching only one news source I think, can be hazardous to your ability to reason.
Our politicians are also influenced, many of them by money. I believe that a political campaign system that is based on money is a system that can be unfairly compromised by those with extreme wealth.
There is also the influence of ideology. When it comes to issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, politicians who are socially conservative or liberal, have a strong passion about these issues. I have no doubt that there are lawmakers in Washington and in state houses who are serving in office all because of their ideology.
Probably most politicians have an ideological agenda of some degree when they seek to serve in office but that does not mean they do not also understand they are sent to do a job and sometimes the job is about taking care of the country and not their ideological agenda, no matter how important it is to them.
Ideology has its place in politics; otherwise, there would be little passion to serve in the first place. Ideology may be about the safety of our nation from gun violence or it might be about white supremacy and hate for those who are different.
Ideology for some politicians is just a mask for their greed, as they talk about their deep feelings about the life of unborn children or they rage, "Where are the jobs?" to their political opponents and yet most of their efforts in office are to protect the wealth of billionaires.
Ideology should take a second place to responsibility; legislators should know their responsibilities and carry them out. I do know that if I do not carry out my responsibilities at my job, I will be fired. Sometimes those responsibilities require me to work with others, even people I do not care for.
Ideology is a political tool that can be wielded over a certain percentage of a society; it can steer up masses of protestors into a frenzy of violence and death or even push through laws in government that trample on the civil rights of minorities.
Many Americans are influenced by their religion, or their god. A small percentage of people turn their religion into the purpose of their lives. They become priest, pastors, rabbis, Imams, and some of them become some of the most wonderful people who ever lived. Then, there are those who use religion as a reason to commit violence and even kill innocent women and children -- as any rightful god would stand behind such ugliness and hatefulness.
The voices we follow can lead us to success and prosperity or they can lead us to destruction. Our passions and our ideology can lead us to do good things and even great things, or they can lead us to treat others with disdain.
The voices we listen to and the voices we follow; make us, break us; choose those voices well.
This is a republish from my website: Fidlerten Place