We’ve got to talk
Talking, yes, just plain talking is essential to our way of life. We are indeed attempting to maintain the longest-standing democracy in the world and that by its very nature demands that we all enter into the discussion. Sure it means that we need to know what we are talking about. That is where freedom of speech and education come into play.
Sometimes in public dialogue, the conversation gets a bit crazy and even cantankerous, but that beats the dead silence of a dictatorship. If we really believe in the capacity of mankind to make rational decisions after sorting through all manner of thought, then we trust in the value of everyone entering the fray.
In all my travels and work in eastern European countries, the biggest snag I have is the syndrome that has developed from years of being silenced by the oppression of conquerors. Folks have learned that they won’t get hassled by rulers if they keep their heads down, say nothing and don’t get noticed. Seems to me they are setting themselves up to become, one again, victims in someone else’s game plan. It sure isn’t the route of an innovative mind-set which we hear is the basic ingredient in today’s competitive countries.
I think the best part of this year’s election cycle is the increased exposure of the candidates through all the presidential debates. Hopefully we can get beyond the hired media experts’ sound bites and the snippy comments about personal appearances if we talk long enough. I really don’t care what my next leader’s hair looks like in light of the threats of global warming, nuclear proliferation or a global health crisis. I want real thought and discussion about real issues that lap at our lives.
In our desired form of society, our leaders respond to the outcries of ‘we the people.’ Well, what are we the people asking to happen? Perhaps the talking and learning must start at our family dinner tables just as it did in the home of President John Kennedy when he was a boy. What do we talk about over a cup of coffee with a friend or our kids during a long commute to school? What we discuss will form what we become.
Here in Southern Indiana, we have a lot up for grabs in our future. Best we get the talk going and figure out how to sort through it all and come up with a plan. Certainly we can just sit back and let someone else take control of our lives, but who knows what they will have in their minds. If two heads are better than one, well, thousands must be of real benefit.
I guess that is what those bold founders of our constitution believed and it seems like a good idea today.