Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Darned if you do, Darned if you don't....

Early on in our tenure at Millville Grade School, my old buddy Stinky Wilmont and I learned that there were dire consequences involved whenever we committed some transgression against another student, or one of our teachers, or even the Millville Grade School building or the property upon which that building stood. It was fairly simple concept to understand, even if it didn't always deter us.

Shortly afterwards, we learned that the same misfortune that befell us for doing something wrong could also befall us for not doing anything at all. Sometimes the punishment would come because we didn't do our homework, sometimes it would come because we didn't hold the door open for Bernice Hawkins, and sometimes it would come just because we weren't paying attention to something the Mrs. Terwilliger thought we should be paying attention to. It wasn't always as easy to predict when not doing something would cause as much aggravation as doing something, but it kept things interesting, and helped prepare us for the challenges ahead.

The consequences of our choices to do something or not to do something are with us every day. If you decide to drive to Grandma's house this Christmas, you could end up getting a ticket along the way for speeding, or you could get a ticket for not fastening your seatbelt. I understand why you could get a ticket for speeding, but I've never understood why you should get a ticket for not wearing your seatbelt. I suspect Mrs. Terwilliger had something to do with it, though.

Sometimes the difference between doing something and not doing something involves higher stakes. Up at Penn State University, there has been a lot of fallout among the coaching staff involving both deplorable actions and deplorable inactions. Apparently one of the coaches was molesting children, while some of the other coaches knew about it but didn't do anything, or at least enough, to stop it.

I could probably find it in my heart to excuse Stinky if he neglected to open the door for Bernice from time to time, and I have the utmost sympathy for drivers that have been ticketed for simply not fastening their seatbelts. I have no idea how anyone could make a conscious effort not to prevent child abuse.

Recently, the so-called super committee, comprised of a few Democratic and Republican congresspersons, reported that they weren't going to make any recommendations for decreasing the federal debt. It wasn't like they started out to do much, anyway. At the best, their aim was to reduce federal spending by about 2% over the next 10 years. And I don't imagine there are very many people who honestly expected them to achieve even that modest goal. It's practically impossible to raise taxes enough to pay for all of the government programs both parties hold so dear.

Regardless of whether our current congress does or doesn't do something, our federal debt will probably reach about $20 trillion in the next 6 or 7 years, up from today's $15 trillion. That is a lot of debt to pass on to our children and grandchildren. It comes dangerously close to bordering on abuse.

For years voters have been sending the same people and ideas to Washington, knowing that the size and cost of government was going to increase because of it, and the people who didn't vote allowed it to happen by simply going along for the ride.

I suppose there might be some small degree of difference between malignant intent and callous indifference in such matters, but I wonder if the children who will eventually bear the brunt of our decisions or indecisions will feel obliged to recognize it.

1 Comments:

Blogger Mark Sumner said...

Apathy is a stagnant form of soicial murder. If one goes about the daily routine and fails to see the tendrils of the world caressing the very life they live then that oversight will be at their own peril. Living near the tracks is one thing. We get accustomed to the noise of the 8:15 and the 9:20. But living ON the tracks because the view looks beter east to west is the same as living with apathy. Eventually the train will come and you better pray you ain't home when it does.
I understand being aware of world events is a detached endeavor in sofar that you cannot cast a vote in the next session of Congress or save the Afghani rape victim being forced to marry her rapist. But it does give us an idea of the psyche of the world and in turn it reveals our own moral and ethical foundations. Being informed gives us an emotional response to the world we live in and with that we shape our immediate surroundings be the expression of ideas and foatering similar emotions in those we associate with.
Apathy is the same as the bromide mentioned in the book of James- Faith without works is dead. If we continue to live as if the rest of the world doesn't matter, we will be awakened by the train of the world as it crashes through our door.

8:16 AM  

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