“Draining the Swamp”

wpid-img_3346.jpgThe following is one in a series of weekly non-religious articles on current events.  The articles do not support or criticize the events or positions.  Rather, my intent is to strengthen readers as leaders (parents, supervisors, coaches, mentors, etc.) in Emotional Intelligence:  self-awareness of personal values and beliefs for self-regulation of the same with others.

As Proverbs 20:5 tells us, “The purpose of the heart is like deep water, but a person of understanding will draw it out.”

Evan McMullin against the Leviathans


“Draining the swamp”, by Chaplain Jeff Dillard (1 November 2016)

With less than a week until Election Day and revelations (or at least allegations) of more scandals, it seems the negative press on both sides of the political aisle is only increasing.  Even voters who have historically verbalized staunch support for a particular party are backing their candidate as the ‘lesser of two evils’.  Seventeenth century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes argued that this dilemma is a constant reality, especially when it comes to positions of power.  Ian Tuttle, the Thomas L Rhodes Fellow at the National Review Institute, summarized Hobbes’ view that “Absolute power meant exactly that, so ‘Leviathan’ could be brutal – but he (or she) would, on the whole, keep everyone from hacking each other apart willy-nilly.  Things would always be fundamentally bad, but they could be made less bad.”  (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441600/evan-mcmullins-utah-longshot)

If all people tend to seek their own survival and prosperity, such reasoning may be practical.  But it’s scary, too.  That’s why our forefathers founded our nation on checks and balances:  absolute power cannot reside in any one person or branch of government.  Still, it’s difficult to focus on any important goals like “draining the swamp” (eradicating the source of pesky bugs and poisonous snakes on both sides of the mire) when it seems you’re up to your neck in alligators.  In fact, the term Leviathan in the book of Job may be a reference to alligators or crocodiles.  Evan McMullin proposes a ‘solution’.

McMullin, a formerly quiet public servant with an impressive resume, says he can rescue us from the false dichotomy of either candidate.  How?  By winning a few key states and denying the White House to both.  Then the House of Representatives would select our President.  Reactions to his plan are intensely mixed, even if it could slay both ‘Leviathans’ (as many see them) and free us to focus on national goals again.  Such paralyzing struggles are common in counseling.  Consider the following.

  • Intense emotions can give us the paralysis of analysis, focusing all of our attention and energy on the problem, stealing our original focus on our positive goals. This is especially true of fear and anger.  Fear focuses on perceived threats, while anger focuses on perceived injustices.  Both foci may be legitimate, but both are negative and tend to take our eyes off the positive prize.  Like a Soldier in combat, reacting to danger is dangerous.  We have to focus on what we came to do.
  • When we have clearly defined, strongly desirable goals, it’s easier to put dangers in perspective. In 2007, I was driving through an intense storm in Columbus, Georgia.  Though we couldn’t see anything, the radio said there was a tornado in our immediate area.  The flying chaos around us was dark and deafening, but my laser focus was on the road and traffic in front of me.  We needed to reach a nearby brick building for our safety.  We couldn’t do that if I sat paralyzed by the storm.

Times of turmoil can be disorienting, but they can also help us to re-think, “What do I want most?”  Life is full of swamps and alligators – real or perceived.  But if we give-in to fear or anger, others or circumstances will direct our lives.  So how should we respond?  Know yourself.  Run your thoughts by trusted and wise people of integrity.  Pursue worthwhile goals.  Expect challenges so you can prepare.  Link-up with like-minded people.  And help others wade through to the other side with you.


If you’re interested in reading other posts from this series, “Topic Tuesdays”, you can subscribe to this blog.

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