Saturday, December 24, 2005

"We have met the enemy and he is us" Pogo 1952


A group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture.

The institutions and culture of a distinct self-perpetuating group.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You settle in with the morning newspaper and a cup of coffee.

The headlines are discouraging to say the least; corruption evident at the highest levels in government, taxes out of control, trash littered streets, our students falling behind other countries' students, millions with no health insurance, increasing poverty levels, global warming, fuel costs out of sight, another shooting in a ghetto neighborhood.

Commentators conclude that our problems won't be solved until "we as a society" make the commitment to (you fill in the blank).

What does 'we as a society' really mean? Can we all act together? And if we did, what would be the difference between 'society' and any other mob or special interest group, or union? See the above definition.

To me, this phrase - as a society - is a cop-out, an excuse for doing nothing. After all, 'we as a society' haven't made the commitment. Not my fault. Why should I do anything until 'we as a society' do something.

Now there, doesn't that feel better? Cop-out!

As long as this myth of 'society' exists, individuals won't take the action necessary to make changes. Our very democracy is at risk under the current deadly combination of apathy, helplessness, and cynicism.

In a democracy, legislators are expected to consider and pass laws that are in the best interest of the people. "The happiness of the people is the purpose of government", John Adams.

Can we trust that our elected officials are willing or even able to make such choices? From the news it would appear the answer is 'no'. That some of our state representatives have cast votes for absent members is a disgrace; an insult to the people of Rhode Island.

Americans are blessed with a form of government that allows us to change legislators in elections. Yet the vast majority of legislators continue in office, suggesting that we are generally pleased with their performance. Are we?

So we continue to read our papers and listen to the news, muttering disapproval all the while.

Change will come only when each one of us understands we must act as individuals, not society. It will come when YOU put the gum wrapper in your pocket instead of throwing it on the street, use a turn signal, act with courtesy and respect and teach your children to do the same. When you and I, as individuals, keep the snow shoveled from the front walk, let a motorist into line, slow down for the yellow light, take the time to contact our government representatives about how we feel.

When that happens there will be a sea change in our country, in the way we govern ourselves.

One can only imagine the impact of not a few hundred identical letters from a group, but of tens of thousands, of millions of individual letters from the people, you and me, making our feelings known. A veritable tide from the people.

Today we can make a simple toll free phone call to vote for the latest goofball who appears on some reality TV show.

Isn't it at least as important to express your feelings about the important issues of the day? When was your last letter to the editor?

When all is said and done, there is no 'society'.

There's just you. There's just me.

But maybe it's just me.

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