by Dave Markwell

Today, I began my cleaning and organizing my garage. When this project will end I do not know. I have piles of tools and hardware and camping crap and kid crap and wife crap and my crap shoved and stacked deep and wide. While earnestly tackling this lofty endeavor, I thought about things, many things. I thought about these things to avoid thinking about the piles of crap underfoot and overhead. I started thinking about politics. I don’t really know why, but I suspect that falling asleep last night while watching Stephen Colbert had something to do with it.

I am not a very political guy, but with the Presidential election coming up it is hard to escape. The recent party conventions and ads fill a lot of air time during my usual down/dumb time watching TV. I hate political ads. I hate extreme points of view and I hate it when people think I/we are too stupid to understand issues or have any semblance of rational thought regarding them. Though some parts may be a little fuzzy, I do remember four years ago and I do remember the years before four years ago and implying that they are not connected or expecting me to believe that they are not is insulting.

My basic thoughts on these heavy issues culminated in an “insight”. I use quotation marks, because I don’t have a lot of faith in some of my insights and I can cop out of true ownership of them by noting them as such. My “profound” thought was that our whole country: politics, business, and citizenry was founded, and only works, with INTEGRITY. We trust others to do the right things, as they trust us to do the same. When we don’t, we and the system are broken. Right now, it feels like we’re broken.

I don’t trust our politicians. I don’t trust big business. It seems like such a collusive relationship with everyone winning except the ones paying the bills, i.e.. the people who actually own this country: ITS PEOPLE. Record profits are being recorded, yet unemployment is still rampant. Executive salaries skyrocket, while companies get bailed out or lay off or go bankrupt. Campaign finance is insidious and has poisoned our culture. Health care protocols are driven by pharmaceutical companies’ contributions to OUR representatives with more interest in profit and re-election than actually helping anyone. I don’t trust any of it anymore. The fox is in charge of the hen house and he’s a hungry and greedy fox.

The disparity between the haves and have nots has never felt so violating. As a small business owner, I am huge believer in the free market and earning and keeping what one earns. This is right, when it is earned, however “earned” is a tricky word. When “earning” costs someone else too much, or a fair exchange is not achieved, it feels more like theft.

I also don’t like “entitlements”, unless one is genuinely entitled. This is also right. Insurance fraud, welfare fraud, and expecting someone else to foot the bill instead of actually taking some personal responsibility for life’s often less-than-awesome circumstances is disturbing and disheartening. I hate all scammers and cheaters and liars, independent of their tax bracket.

The problem is this idea of entitlement. It occurs with both our richest and our poorest, and all margin in between them, and it is completely void of the aforementioned integrity. Cons are run on all sides of the fence which muddy the waters of what is right and fair. Most people are honest and fair, but a sacred trust has been compromised by the few and it affects the many. It seems like the fringes are running the country, with scams that cost the vast majority of us in the middle piece of mind and money.

Doing the right thing is not that difficult. What is right and fair and honest and true is not such an abstract concept that we cannot comprehend it. In fact, I think we do comprehend it and that’s why frustration is so high. We don’t trust anyone or anything, with good reason: We have been lied to and cheated and betrayed…and we are broken….but…as always, hope lives.

We are America, the strongest, most resilient and best country this world has ever known and when the dipsticks pull their heads out or, most likely, we pull them out for them, our new future is bright. An exciting era of innovation and more cool stuff has just begun. Our world is changing in ways that we could never imagine and this is good. Remembering how we got here and why we are here is a critical understanding at this point in our history. And, at the center of this understanding, lies integrity.

Integrity lives in the hearts of us all and doing the right things is our privilege and responsibility. The heads come out and eyes open and the world is changed when this happens…and it’s happening now. It is real and powerful and it is time.

Well, those are my big thoughts on big issues. How do we solve them?…hell if I know…I’m heading back out to my garage…life is simpler out there…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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