I listened to the beyond counting version of bad politics playing out in a office environment. To the person telling me the story, it was important, critical, and personal. Given that it was the same story that I have heard endless times, albeit with different characters and nuances in this version, I struggled to respectively pay attention.
As the story dragged on, I realized that I was watching a caricature of myself. I have been this person! I began to replay the scenes in my mind and realized that I had as many memories of this story where I was the storyteller as I did where I was the listener. In the reflection I could see how my audience had lost interest as well. They too had heard the story, from someone somewhere, before. It is one that is not new or unique to anyone.
I have no idea how someone, myself included, can always stay alert during the recounting of another version. If one is a participant it might be easier. I do have a thought for myself the next time I consider recounting my umpteenth version of the story.
The story is not unique. Everyone goes through it in one form or another. One can recount it in brief bullets knowing that the audience will likely understand it completely.
In paying attention to one problem one misses the opportunity. Yes it is a hassle, but is it really “the” problem / opportunity that you are called to focus on? An old observation leaves us with a model to follow; “God isn’t losing any sleep; to him [adversaries] they’re a joke with no punch line.” (Psalm 37.13)
In every moment the question we have to wrestle with is the same; what will I do for good?
Yes, adversaries are playing bad politics. The blunt advice I leave with myself is “get over it”; focus on what you can do. You and I are called to be a positive force where we are. There are opportunities in every moment. Seize each with everything you have.