“It doesn’t matter anyway!”
By Larry John
I was in a “greasy spoon” diner in Payson, Arizona waiting to pay for breakfast when I read a sign on the counter that said, “I don’t care. I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anyway.” Now at first I laughed at the words and the attitude they represented but the more I thought about it the more I began to question the humor of the words. The fact is this is the way most of us in America feel about everything, especially politics. You see as I talk to people about their feelings on government and politics they tell me pretty much the same things. Most Americans think their opinion “doesn’t matter anyway” and as a result they “don’t care” about government and politics and as a result of not caring they “don’t know” much about government and politics. And maybe that is a good thing since most of us are stupid. And maybe that is not such a bad thing for the politicians who prefer to keep most of us in the dark. Because for the politicians it seems the less people KNOW the less they care, and the more they feel they can’t do anything about it anyway, the less politicians have to worry about the thinking of the people. These attitudes result in more CONTROL and POWER for the politicians.
I know that when people want to talk about religion, at first I am engaged in the conversation because I like to see what people believe. Then I become intrigued because I’m interested to know HOW their beliefs impact their lives pragmatically for good or bad. But after a while there comes a point in the conversations when I say to myself, “I don’t care. I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anyway.” Or when people feel it necessary to tell me about their illnesses I reach the point of no return when it is obvious that “I don’t care. I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anyway.” So I definitely understand why most people don’t want to talk or think about politics and the ideology of government, because most of us feel that we have been disenfranchised from the entire process. And maybe that is the way the good old Founding Fathers wanted it to be. After all, they didn’t set up a democracy where we ALL have a say in government. They set up a “REPUBLIC” form of government where, in most cases, we elect people who have “THE SAY.” The only “say” we have, is who will have the “say.” So is it any wonder that we say, “I don’t care. I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anyway?” The only thing we can really care about is caring about the people who CARE, about the people who KNOW, and the people who MATTER…if we care at all. Thomas Jefferson said that liberty and ignorance couldn’t coexist. He said in 1816 "If a nation expects to be ignorant AND free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” And yet the fact still remains that most of us want to be FREE and for most of us, we want to be FREE to not care and not know.
I am not sure that our freedom will continue to exist if we continue to not care and not know because it is human nature to “enslave” other humans who don’t demand freedom. It has always been that way from the beginning of human existence. So, if we keep saying, “I don’t care. I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anyway”, we will continue to give up more and more of our freedoms and be under the control and power of others. We can’t have it both ways. You can’t KEEP freedoms and give up your control to have them.
It seems obvious to me that the “I don’t care. I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anyway” attitude will eventually turn to “I care. I know. And it does matter.” But if we wait too long… when it matters, because we have no freedoms, rights, and privileges, it will be too late. We will have long ago given up our freedom and rights and once they are gone, it is too late to get them back.
All right, I am about to lose most of you and by now you have reached, “I don’t care. I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anyway” with this article. But stay with me here. I want to do more than just highlight a problem; I would like to suggest a solution. Most people I know say, “I don’t even know enough to know that I don’t know.” Well I want to KNOW. I WANT to care. And I want to know that what I think matters and will make a difference. After all if you really think about it most of us have lost our belief that we make any difference whatsoever influencing the type of government we want which provides the services we think we need. The key word here is “THINK.” We want to THINK that our THINKING makes a difference and that our THINKING matters… so back to talking about possible solutions to the problem.
In order to come up with a solution we must all agree that there IS a PROBLEM. If there is no problem, why do we need to have a solution? That would be silly. But I think there IS a problem and here is the problem as I see it. We feel as though those controlling government are beyond our control and influence. Do you agree? And an additional problem connected to the first problem is that we don’t care, because we don’t know how to have a “say” in the process. And even if we knew what to do, it wouldn’t matter anyway. Did I get it right?
So the question is… do we want a solution? And the answer to that question would be either yes or no. So if your answer in NO…. see ya, see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya! Only kidding! But seriously if your answer is NO then stay right where you are with “I don’t care. I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anyway.” And that’s OK with me. I was there for years myself. And from time to time I go there again. But I know that the “I don’t care. I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anyway” attitude will never make me happy or make my country the county I want it to be for me and my children and generations of my family to come. I truly believe that “NOT CARING” doesn’t make the problem go away. It may make the country go away, but it won’t make the problem of CONTROL and POWER go away. If we give up our right to control government, because humans are humans, government will control us. After all, is government FOR the PEOPLE and BY the PEOPLE? I hope it is!
PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS is the problem. We don’t PARTICIPATE IN THE PROCESS. If we are not in the game we are just watchers. Just like watching a football game on television. The players and coaches are IN THE GAME, the TV watchers are NOT! Sure you may have arm-chair quarterbacks, commentators, Monday morning quarterbacks, I “told you so” strategists, and “my team sucks” fans, but they will never have as much impact in THE GAME as the players and coaches. These players and coaches are PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS. They are the ones that can make a difference. They are different than “fickle fans” that only care about winning. The players and coaches, in addition to caring about winning, know the game and think that their PARTICIPATION in the game makes a difference. PARTICIPATION IN THE PROCESS of politics and government makes a difference. Nothing will happen if you do nothing. Something will happen if you do something.
PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS first starts with a “personal political GREEDO” of a person’s belief of how you want government to be for YOU! This means you are going to have to THINK about what you expect government to DO FOR YOU as it relates to your personal freedoms, rights, protection, the economy, employment opportunities, medical care, financial security, military, religious freedoms, etc. What are you willing to GIVE UP to have the FREEDOMS you want? You will have to give up freedoms in order to have freedoms. For every benefit that government provides, there is a freedom that you must give up. You can’t have roads, highways, and freeways that are in good condition unless you are willing to give up some or your money for taxes to make and upkeep your roads. You can’t have quality schools unless you give up your money to build schools and hire quality teachers. These benefits have to be paid for by someone. After all government doesn’t have any money of its own. You give government money. If you are not willing to give up your right to your money, you can’t have the benefits provided by the “pooling” of personal income to pay for these benefits. If you allow taxes and bonds to be passed without your PARTICIPATION IN THE PROCESS, you won’t have the right to be a “Monday morning quarterback.” You have NO say! Monday morning quarterbacks may talk a lot, but they have no say in the process. Your opinion is really not that important once the game is over.
PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS means you have got to get in the GAME! If you are part of the game… you care. If you are in the game you know the rules, strategy, techniques, systems and policies of the game. It would be silly to go to a football game as a player or coach and not know the rules, right? And you learn the rules by studying the game and by playing the game. But no amount of knowledge of the game will make any difference unless you PLAY the game. You may know everything there is to know about flying a 747, but unless you have some experience in flying one of those birds, you’re not flying me and my family to London. Once you know “what is going on” you can begin to participate in the game. This will require that you study the facts, platforms, speeches, ideologies, etc. of all parties and see which belief most closely represents your personal beliefs of politics and government. There are no perfectly right answers, just different plans to get us to the same place where government is under our control and providing the benefits of freedom we demand. No one wants government to control their lives, but we do want government to better our lives. We want government to do for our families and us what we can’t do on our own. I don’t want to build roads for example. We want government to provide everyone with the same rights and protections which allow us to live better lives, more productive lives, more rewarding lives, and with all the benefits and services it takes for us to be truly happy. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!
PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS means to get in the game and play hard. This means voting. In most city elections only 10-20% of people even vote, and in a Presidential election just over 50% vote, this means people have given up. They don’t care, don’t know and have given up because it doesn’t matter. If you don’t vote you will eventually say “bye-bye” to your freedoms. These percentages show that more and more, fewer and fewer people will govern your rights and freedoms and you will be under their control. If only 20-50% of us vote, that means that 20-50% of us are ruled by the 50-80% of us who don’t vote.
PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS means you have to care enough to actively support candidates. You not only need to know which candidates most closely represent your political view and vote for them, but you need to actively help them get elected. You need to campaign for them and get others to campaign and support them. Get people, first of all, to vote and then encourage them to vote for YOUR candidates for the same reasons that you are supporting, campaigning, and voting for them. And don’t discount running for a political office yourself. Our government needs good people who are ideologically based and believe in their ideology enough to sacrifice their time, energy, and resources to further those ideals. You would be surprised how many elected offices go UNCHALLENGED because people don’t want to run or they don’t want to lose. Sure if there are 80% more Republicans than Democrats in your area, it may be hard to get elected, but it is not impossible to have your voice heard. That is the most important part of the PROCESS. Get your voice heard. It is not only your right, it is your obligation.
PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS also means letting the elected officials of ALL parties know your opinion. Sure you might say no one really reads your letters, but that is NOT the point. The point is you are PARTICIPATING in the PROCESS. You are making your voice heard. And even if our elected officials send us back a form letter, YOU heard your voice. You become more and more convinced that you CARE, that you KNOW, and that it MATTERS!
Sure… “I don’t care. I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anyway” is funny on a bumper sticker or sign, but it is a sad day in America when that becomes the normal way of thinking. And today IS a sad day. PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS means you care! And caring breeds knowing… and knowing means PARTICIPATION… and PARTICIPATION means it MATTERS! Think about it.