A Mindful Politician

This blog post is inspired by an article in the June 1913 issue of Mindful magazine. The title of the article is “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Mindfulness.” The article is about Congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio. He is not to be confused with Congressman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. The two are polar opposites. More will be written about Paul Ryan later in this post. Congressman Tim Ryan has recently published a book, A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Increase Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit, published by Hay House.
A Mindful Politician practices meditation. The mindful politician is open to new ideas. New ideas will not be rejected out of hand due to pre-existing ideology. This does not imply that the politician does not have pre-existing ideas, but when new information indicates that certain ideas need to be modified or rejected, he will change his mind. The politician is willing to consider the ideas of others and to try to arrive at a compromise, one that benefits from different modes of thought.

A useful way to view political gridlock is to view it as an absence of mindfulness. The enemy of mindfulness is political ideology. Worse yet, is a political ideology that is unbending. Even when provided strong empirical evidence to the contrary, the ideologue will not change his mind.

It is somewhat ironic that the perhaps the best politician exhibiting this ideological trait is Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan has indicated that what motivated him to get into politics was the author Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand was a novelist who formulated the philosophy of Objectivism. It is disturbing that there has been a resurgence of interest in this philosophy as recent events have clearly shown that it is both wrong and outdated. In short, Paul Ryan is an ideologue, and an ideologue is antithetical to an effective democracy.

Ideologies can be seductive. They provide a solution to practically all problems neatly wrapped up by the ideology. I know a colleague who is always happy. He is an ideologue who will offer a solution to practically any problem you might give him, never mind that there is ample empirical evidence to show that his solution is wrong.

Personally, I think the purpose of life is to learn, to adapt, to interact with others, and to solve problems both personally and socially. Apart from a general set of ethical guidelines, we need to continue learning, interacting, and solving problems. It is not unusual for the solution to a problem to be non-intuitive. Nevertheless, we should go where the empirical evidence leads us, not to some ideological solution.

In short, the answer to political gridlock is mindful politicians; politicians who not only say they are mindful, but who actually practice mindfulness.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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