Let’s end the game of ‘political ping-pong’ by assigning guilt to only those that deserve it

By Eric Rittmeyer

In the Marine Corps we had daily formations. This is where all Marines within our company would come together. We’d hold formations in the morning before PT (physical training), before/after chow (eating), and in the evening before hitting the rack (going to bed).

They were used for many reasons, but one of the most important was to get a head count and make sure everyone was present and accounted for. The formations during the daytime hours weren’t normally a problem with getting everyone mustered (gathered) together. It was the early morning formations prior to PT that would normally pose the biggest problem.

A normal formation might be at 0430 (4:30 a.m.) At exactly 0430, roll call started. If every single Marine wasn’t there, the whole platoon would be punished. This was a reminder to everyone that we all rely on each other and any one person not following orders could result in failure of the mission – which would most certainly translate into lives lost.

Although it was just one person out of maybe 60 or 70 Marines who didn’t follow instructions, the whole platoon paid the price. It’s a necessity in the military where every action can have catastrophic effects on the mission, and quite often, can be the difference between life and death to the rest of the team.

But outside of the military and a handful of civilian occupations (mainly law enforcement and first responders), it doesn’t work too well. The ultimate example of it “not working well” is our current political environment.

Now, before I move forward, I need to give my disclosure — I don’t care who you vote for. I don’t care what party you’re affiliated with. I don’t care about your sexual preference. I don’t care if you pray. What I’m going to ask of you moving forward is to give me an open mind without allowing your current beliefs to alter your ability to think objectively. Fair? Just give it a shot. Please.

OK, what I’m getting ready to share with you is the secret to fixing our nation. Here we go: In school, you may remember the “bell curve.” You might also remember terms like mean, mode, median, standard deviations, symmetrical sides and asymptotic tails. For purposes of my hypothesis, I only need you to understand two terms — the center and the tails.

Lucky for you I’m a Marine, so everything is automatically dumbed down by default. I want you to envision a bell curve with a line down the center. On one side are the Republicans and on the other side are the Democrats. Each side has their own “tail” which I’m going to refer to as the “1%.” So, to be clear, we have tails on both sides that each make up 1%.

In the middle, we have the “center.” The center will make up the remaining 98% of people in our country. Half of them are Republican and half of them are Democrat.

With all of this in mind, I want to now share with you my solution for fixing our broken country. It’s what I refer to as assigning “collective punishment for isolated guilt” and it’s totally decimating our nation by creating a deadly game of “political ping-pong.”

Here’s how it goes: the 1% on one side (doesn’t matter which side), does something that’s purely insane. It might be an act of violence or maybe just something they say or do that’s absolutely bat crazy. What the opposite side does is take that isolated incident that was committed by someone within the 1% and “collectively punish” the entire group. Every last one of them. All 100%.

Reacting in a way that most people do when assigned guilt for something they didn’t do, they retaliate. They do it in a way that’s really only meant to defend themselves against false accusations, but ends up inadvertently defending the actions of the “bat crazy” people on their side.

They become so intoxicated in emotion that their only objective is to “win” the argument and the initial accusation now unintentionally becomes an afterthought. It turns into a game of “political ping-pong” that creates a perpetual battle where both sides are constantly trying to find isolated incidents that they can blow out of proportion and beat their opponents over the head with.

All mental energy now shifts into trying to defend ourselves, instead of directing it towards combating the actions of a very small section of our country that will never find peace — and they’ll never find it because they don’t want it. This is a very sad truth, but it must be recognized and accepted in order for us to find happiness and harmony moving forward. This small section doesn’t want to find solutions for problems. They want to find problems for solutions.

What we’re currently experiencing are two political parties that deep down agree on the most important issues: safe schools for our children, job opportunities, access to world-class health care, financial prosperity. But the 2% of people that don’t seek solutions are preventing the other 98% from finding ways to live their happiest lives.

I refuse to believe that our political beliefs have gotten so far out of control that they’ve rendered our brains incapable of logical thought processes. It’s time to stop allowing the foundation of our rebuttals on those we disagree with to be rooted in anger, delusion and an assumption of that person’s worst intentions. Let’s end the game of “political ping-pong” by assigning guilt to only those that deserve it.

The great Martin Luther King Jr. said it perfectly: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Eric Rittmeyer is a mental toughness expert and the author of “The Emotional Marine – 68 Mental Toughness and Emotional Intelligence Secrets to Make Anyone Instantly Like You.” To learn more, visit mentaltoughnessspeaker.com

Power to Speak is The Argonaut’s guest opinion column for community members to voice their views on local matters and does not represent an editorial position or endorsement by The Argonaut. The opinions, experiences, research and data analysis expressed in this article are the author’s own. Have a unique point of view on a neighborhood matter or a national issue with a local twist? Email kkirk@timespublications.com.