April 19, 2014
Enlightened citizens America only hope PDF Print E-mail

Greetings from the Ridge.
Husband Herb has entered one of his cocoon stages. Whenever the events of the world become too overwhelming, he sticks his head firmly in the sand and refuses to come out until things settle down, and of course they never do. I tell him that there’s only one thing sticking up when your head is below ground and that’s the side you show the rest of the world when you refuse to keep informed.
The news came on last night and he switched the TV to reruns of the Andy Griffith Show. “Herb, get your hand off that remote! I want to hear the news!”
“Freida, it’s going to be bad so why listen to it?”
“Because I’m still a citizen of this planet, you numbskull! I want to know what’s going on!”
“Those things don’t involve me, Freida.”
“War? War doesn’t involve you? Global warming? The economy, forest fires and nuclear meltdowns don’t involve you?”
“I figure they’re out of my control so why worry?” And he went out the front door, got in his truck then cruised the town listening to old Hank Williams tapes.
I guess there’s a case to be made for serenity, but this bordered on criminal indifference. How can you call yourself responsible if you don’t take the time to see if the sky is falling?
I know that some people go overboard in their need to catch every bit of news that comes across the wire. Genuine news junkies tend to either become nervous paranoids living in fear of the next major disaster or they get so numbed by the constant diet of headlines that they’re not phased by anything short of an earthquake in their living room. But how can we ever attempt to control our own future if we turn a blind eye to the present?
Some folks use the God card. “God’s in control so I don’t need to know.” It’s a ticklish business to argue with people who assume to have the Almighty on their speed dial, but I’m tempted to quiz them a bit on their biblical knowledge. Didn’t Moses have a pretty good idea that Pharaoh’s troops were on his tail before he opened a new four-lane across the Red Sea? If Noah hadn’t checked the weather forecast he’d have ended up with a very soggy zoo. If anything, it seems like God wants us to stay informed of the world’s woes so we can perhaps do something about them, and I doubt the sanctity of any creator who’d give us a brain then tell us not to use it.
I sit on a few committees with Mr. Whatever. No matter what issue you’re discussing, he’ll say, “That’s fine. Whatever you want to do.” I swear the man has no opinion on anything. He lives in fear of being blamed for something so he’s taken the faint-hearted posture toward everything that happens in heaven and earth. “Should we buy a few more…?” “Whatever you want to do.” “When can we schedule…?” “Any time’s fine. Whatever you want.” I have no idea how he keeps from bumping into things with his nose stuck constantly in the grass.
There are things we can change and a whole lot we can’t, but Jefferson’s words have never rung more clearly when he warned that an enlightened citizenry is necessary in order for a republic to function. He went on to say, “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.” I shudder to think what would have happened had the founding fathers come to Tom to ask his opinion on a Declaration of Independence and he’d have answered, “Whatever.”
I’m not smart and I’ll be the first to admit to that, but I know that if I don’t keep educated then the world will be left in the hands of politicians and CEO’s whose interests are a long way from the common good, and they have little interest in mine.
Herb came home in time for supper and I asked him if he truly thought it was wise to live in an apathetic cocoon. He said, “Oh but Freida, remember . . . it’s a beautiful butterfly that emerges from the cocoon!”
I sighed and said, “Yeah, and then the butterfly gets smashed across a windshield because she didn’t see what was coming.”
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door but you'll enjoy the trip.