Home > Uncategorized > So I Have a Question…

So I Have a Question…

When did we all start taking ourselves so seriously?

I’ve lived in the glorious capital of the most amazing nation on Earth for almost 20 years now. And in that time, I have had some of the most intense sessions of body-shaking laughter I can remember.

But as the years have passed, I have begun to notice that we just don’t laugh at ourselves very much anymore.

We take ourselves so damn seriously in this city, as if every statement from our mouths and every action we take are some cosmically-ordained prophetic sea-parting.

I’ve been giving this some thought for some time. People I know dearly and adore in positions of authority or public office act so differently in private than they do in public.

Then it dawned on me:

We’ve started believing our own press releases.

And let’s face it; I love a good press release.

When I first founded THE INSTITUTE on Religion and Public Policy, I sent out a press release every time I sneezed. My rationale was that the more releases we sent out, the more people would come to realize that we exist. And then hopefully listen to us.

And there was truth to that. But with that also comes the lesson of learning when to pull back from that strategy.

The bigger threat, however, is not from the number of releases one sends out – which could risk driving everyone away, a lesson now being learned from prolific Facebook status-updaters – but from actually falling into the trap of believing the horse malarkey that is the essence of every press release.

Professional politicians in Washington are not the only ones who fall into this quicksand of perception. I cannot begin to enumerate the human rights leaders who think they are the next best thing to sliced bread. Why?

Their bios and press releases say so.

We “policy wonks” and “experts” and “political leaders” in the Nation’s Capital really just need to relax a little. We really aren’t all that important.

Who can actually name the last Assistant Secretary of Labor for Administration and Management? (How many people can even name the current one?)

We in Washington are so caught up in the perceptions of our public images that we have stopped being people. We have become press releases of ourselves.

Which is why scandals that expose the humanity of people in Washington both scandalize and frighten us…

We have forgotten that personal relationships matter more than professional ones; we have forgotten that people are not V-Cards; we have forgotten that in the rest of the world, friendships are not measured by what we can get from the other person, but by what we enjoy in the other person.

(I have been waiting for what feels like a lifetime to use the following quote.)

As The Joker once said, “This town needs an enema.”

We need to learn to laugh.

We need to learn to relax.

We need to learn that if we keep pretending that politics mean more than people, that positions outrank principles, that values are talking points and not life goals, that every bit of over-exaggerated truth bending in a bio or press statement reflects the reality of who and what we are and not the perceptions we wish people to have, sooner or later we will end up with a society right out of reality TV central casting.

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