I read somewhere that one of the things Socrates said was, “It’s never right to do wrong.” Now, thinking about that and the three folks canvassing the country for you and me to help one of them become our next president, I am wondering how that quote applies to me.
Should I vote for one of them? Should I vote for someone else? Should I not vote at all?
As a citizen I have the right to vote, to participate with the rest of you who are eligible. Which, these days, simply means that you are alive, old enough, and have registered to do it; neither property, riches, language, religion or intelligence mattering as once they did. (In a way, folks in that frame of mind might reasonably conclude that consciousness is the only thing that counts about being a citizen and “Participating In Democracy.” I say that with not a little irony and scorn.)
It’s an obligation and a duty to vote we learn from an early age. Something which is, I guess, along the lines of making your bed, picking up your toys and eating everything on the plate when you are a child; even the yucky stuff like spinach, kale and codfish. The stuff Dad said was good for you, and Mom said would help the starving children in China. How was forcing myself to gag or puke going to do that? I still wonder about what good they do and whether my swallowing what I hated saved a single soul across the sea. And, though I have grown accustomed to kale and actually like spinach, I sometimes muse on the morality of eating “baby spinaches.” Cod, though, is good in chowder and for seagulls in fishing ports.
That’s absurd of course, that baby spinaches malarkey. Just so, there’s nothing ethically or morally wrong with eating baby sheep or cows, they’re tasty; or harvesting baby seals, their skins keep us warm and look nice on pretty girls; becoming whatever form or thing one decides one really has or is; marrying a tree, or oneself; saving baby whales, there aren’t enough of them; or killing baby humans. Umm, now where did that thought , the baby human one, come from?
Well, it’s obviously originally from one of those ten things we can no longer put in front of the courthouse carved in stone; those things which nevertheless hang heavily over our heads like a gathering storm, which loom like ten massive mountains in front of us, a wall of warning we have so far safely ignored. Those things which with the help of Progress in Science, Economics, Jurisprudence, Medicine and Politics we may all one day soon be able to drive out from under and up and over into a land flowing with, well with whatever we would like it to overflow, solar panels on every rooftop and 500 channels of TV; a workers paradise and a thousand year something or other.
We will be great again! Have hope! Achieve, at last, the change we have wanted all along, from that first afternoon with the sun on the meadows and us lolling in the shade of a the apple tree. We will be the best we can be, if only we listen to one of the three.
It’s a choice, really, between Tweedledum, who will make everything plentiful and free; Just Plain Dumb; who will make us once more great behind our Great Wall; and Dee, the barrel legged beauty from hell, our true mother with what potions and drugs we need to make us well.
It is a choice I do not wish to make, a meal I do not choose to eat, in a place I find oppressive and toxic. I know how the Socrates quote applies to me. Avoid the ballot booth in November as if it contained a nest of vipers.
Perhaps I should stand outside the place with a sign that carries the words, “Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate!” Few enough of us read English any longer, so it might be a conversation starter. Folks who know me could ask, passers by, poll watchers “Why are you out here?” And I could ask them back, “Why are you going in there? Why do you care?” When they ask, “What the hell does that sign say? I could say, “It really doesn’t matter. We are there already.”.
And on January 20, next year I’ll stand at the right moment, wave my sword in the right direction and proclaim with the rest of us, “Hail, whomever, we who are dead salute you!”
Yes, it is a wild place we have wandered into. Would that we had a guide through, and up, and out.