One life lesson that is hard to accept is that even though many want to do more to help, they are unwilling to give up what they have in the now for a future that may well indeed be more bleak. Do your best with what you have and enjoy the now. It is really all we have in these uncertain crazy times.
Ask anyone in the military and their response will be that this is a true statement. The most important rule in the military is to follow orders. Hence, the book and idiom Catch 22. Damned if you and damned if you don’t.
The idea begs the question ‘what is more important? Individuals or the community. And this question and debate has been discussed and argued for time immemorial. It is one of the big debates that build communities and destroy nations.
And this debate is happening now across the board with the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, the police targeting blacks and other minorities and what constitutes personal freedom when it comes to things like education and medicine. Examples: vaccines and critical race theory.
So the question becomes ‘who makes the rules that the community has to follow?’ and ‘when do these rules start to break down the fabric of a civil society?’. We think the answers are simple but are they?
Let me give a simple example. You work at a bar and restaurant. It is a busy place and you bring home a lot of money after each shift no matter the day. This money pays for your home, your medical and all of your luxuries including internet, a nice car, a new phone and chic clothes. Your life is golden.
Now, the problem. The problem is this. The owner explains to all hires, which include you, that one of the company policies is to card everyone who enters the bar and restaurant, but that when doing so, you are not to look at the picture and see if it matches the patron.
What do you do? Do you inform the police or other authorities or do you enjoy the fruits of your labor and accept the fib as not doing all that much harm? Given the fact that we start critiquing the students negatively who do tell on others in first grade, it stands to reason that telling, snitching or informing the police has been hard-wired out of us. Most will not tell even though they know they are going against something even if they are not exactly sure who or what.
This brings me to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and the American Presidency. What Americans and Russians have in common is that almost all are complicit or at the very least willing to look the other way.
Take Russia first. Are all Russians part of the invasion? Well, it’s one nation invading another so the catch 22 is that yes, all Russians, unless they publicly have spoken out against Putin and the government are complicit. The catch 22 is that if they do speak out, they are imprisoned. If they act, they lose whatever freedom they have. If they don’t act, they cross their personal ethics which allows Putin to carry on carrying on.
The American Presidency is similar. What many don’t seem to understand is that the title POTUS means that the person with the title is the leader of ALL Americans, even those that did not vote for the person in charge. It’s how it works. The POTUS is the boss. Plain and Simple. Those who have succeeded clearly can walk the line between both parties. We call them centrists. They are the employees of the bar. They will do what they can but what they are willing to risk is very limited.
Those that support the person in charge have it easy. They follow. It’s their leader. Those who don’t support the person in charge still do in so many words unless they leave America to renounce their citizenship and go somewhere else. Yep. easier said than done. That’s the catch 22. We all pay taxes and those who drink, smoke or drive, pay more. Those taxes are our way of saying we support what’s happening even if we clearly don’t. There is no one to run to tell or tattle or snitch who is willing to listen and take action against those who are doing harm. And those doing harm, in leadership positions, use their weight and power to silence the individual voices against them. Again, a catch 22. Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.
Where does that leave us? It leaves me waiting for the when. The when that those that are not okay with serving minors to unite and use their collective voice to shake the tree or maybe even cut it down. The problem, again, most, and this may in fact include me, are unwilling to risk all at the table of life for the possibility of a less than zero net outcome. What I have isn’t that bad? And I recognize this type of thinking makes me, if not complicit, at the very least, looking the other way when harm is done and a voice is needed.
I have landed on zero a few times because I have taken the ethical path. It’s not fun or easy to rebuild from zero. The older I get, the less risk I am willing to take to rock the boat. But, if you start rocking collectively with a mission and a plan, I will be an ardent voice of support.