Life is about choices. There is little we control other than how we think, feel and behave. We can’t control others; we can’t control how they react to us or to the events of our lives. So, what do we do? Life is interaction with those around us. And, as we have talked a lot recently about communication and how our politicians handle it, I wonder, what do we do on our side?

Step one is to be certain of the information we are provided. It’s easy to go off half cocked, but what if the reason for our concern is not what actually occurred? Then there is understanding the information we have. Political ramifications are often broad and unseen to the general public. Having the political savvy to know the implications of acts or decisions is the key to proper reaction. That is only developed through time and experience, unless you have a trusted, experienced advisor who can provide insight. Having the sense to listen to people in the know about the situation and seeking competent advice is next. That should lead to a well thought out response, if a response is required at all.

That is where many politicians miss the chance to kill an issue. Often times whatever is being said is either not of substance, or is just a fact the politician must handle and accept. Frequently the politician who feels a situation must be addressed will make it worse by prolonging the discussion or the scrutiny by speaking out. The adage “when you find yourself in a hole the first step is to stop digging” comes to mind. The politician who can’t shut up when it’s appropriate is his own worst enemy.

But, let’s get back to us for a moment. What are we doing as we look at the issues of our lives and our interactions with each other in this new year? Are we reacting off the cuff to the emotion of the situation or are we evaluating what’s in front of us and determining first and foremost if it need be addressed at all. Or could it be something that we just have to absorb and move on?

When all is said and done, our reactions are entirely up to us. Will our input help the situation or simply serve to prolong it? Are we responding appropriately with a suggestion or fact that can change the perception of the issue at hand? Are we helping or hurting when we engage? Are we participating to make the situation better, or to make ourselves feel better? Are we part of the solution or part of the problem?

The call is ours and we’ll do what we see fit…if we know why we are engaging we’ll have a better shot at understanding the how of it.

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