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2017-11-09

My Bias - We-The-People are the masters of our fate*

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

One of the things Rep. Lamar Smith and I discussed during our phone conversation earlier this week was the “spin-factor” of critical topics. I reminded him of something he said in a press release: “A successful democracy requires an honest media, true patriots, and respect for the rule of law. All of us can do our part to help promote these ideals.”
I completely agree with his statement, and added, “A successful democracy also requires an educated and informed citizenry, one that is populated by people capable of critical thinking and making good decisions.”
It seems to me that both the media and politicians are often guilty of spinning topics in such a way that distracts us from our purpose of being informed and prevents us from addressing the things that really matter. For instance, the hot topics of gun control and abortion rear their ugly heads, predictably and often in the press. But the underlying problems associated with these topics are rarely presented in a way that encourages people to discover the truth, or root, of a problem in our culture and fix it. Instead, we deny the existence of a problem, or minimize it, and point an accusing finger of blame at a misused tool.
Similarly, I think there is too much focus on Rep. Smith’s skepticism of “man-made climate change,” which serves to keep vitriolic arguments polarized and political parties divided. I really don’t care about the extent of the congressman’s skepticism — skepticism is good — or even the percentage of global warming that is man-made, although I know such knowledge will prove to be valuable and very useful. (It’s not as important what one believes to be true about global warming as it is to discover what is actually true.)
But in the process of discovering real truths about climate change (for instance), we-the-people shouldn’t allow ourselves to lose sight of what really matters which is: Our ability to respond as a civilization to natural and man-made disasters and catastrophes when they happen and as they continue to happen in the future. We can’t afford financially or culturally to continue to respond in the same way, indefinitely. It isn’t sustainable. Spending other people’s money or money that doesn’t exist is a short-term band-aid with a big balloon payment looming in the future. Grandstanding about climate science will not do a dang thing about opportunistic looting and rampant violence — which is every bit as predictable as the weather.
In our culture, a few people do the heavy lifting for the many. They volunteer their time in purposeful ways or make financial donations to those in need. City Councilman Glenn Clark, for instance, makes sure that the parking lots near the United Methodist Church are free of trash before people start arriving for worship services on Sunday mornings. I love that about him, but it isn’t realistic to assume that Glenn Clark will be doing that for all of us forever, or that another Glenn Clark will magically appear one day and continue to pick up other people’s trash. Similarly, volunteer firefighters all over the state (and country) risk their lives to save other people’s property and other people’s lives. We would be wise to let go of any and all sense of entitlement to this valuable service we may have inadvertently acquired, simply because they do their job so dependably and so well.
And finally, speaking of entitlement, we are not entitled to our freedom and liberty. We are the fortunate beneficiaries of a long history of veterans. Less than 1 percent of the US population serves in the military, actively protecting the values of our democracy as articulated in the Constitution.
Perhaps the only way we can really begin to express our gratitude to veterans and let go of an insidious sense of entitlement is by re-thinking the merits of compulsory national service.


*Informed by William Ernest Henley's "Invictus."