Real Wealth Society

Monday, November 06, 2006

I’ve been thinking about choices by Fred Cederholm

Column for on/after Nov. 5th, 2006

I’ve been thinking about choices. Actually I’ve been thinking about Americans, hypocrisy, responsibilities, delegations, fractions, fictions, and elections. Deciding between “A” and “B” is not a simple matter – things are not just black or white, or even various shades of gray. Do you make your own choices, or are “your” choices made for you? By not deciding, the choice IS made for you.

You see pretty much everything we do involves choices. We are fortunate to live in a free society where we have far more options open to us than most of the people on the planet. From the moment we rise in the morning until we finally retire to bed at night, we face one decision after another. Some involve seemingly mundane things - like what to wear, when to eat, what to eat, what to accomplish during the day, what routes to take to get us where we are going, what calls to take or make, and how to treat our fellow humans beings. Even our inactions are for the most part a matter of some choice. Will I do “whatever” now, or later – or even do it at all? How many people all over the globe truly enjoy these options of choice like US/us? Have you ever really stopped to TH*NK about THAT?

It is also true that there is a growing element of hypocrisy in the choices behind our actions (and our inactions). How often do we choose to do something because we feel we have to? How often do we choose not to act (or speak up) because of some “image” of our persona would not be best served or furthered by that action, or inaction? If we only do what is expected of us - because it is expected of us, are we really being honest and true to ourselves and maximizing OUR freedom of choices?

Our decisions frequently affect far more than us, or our immediate households. While we have responsibilities to our families, our friends, and our neighbors in the present; we owe where we are now in many instances to those who have gone before us. In like fashion, the choices “we” make today can have short (and long) term consequences for/on those who might follow us. We have been truly blessed as a people and a nation – we ARE the land of the free, because of the brave. And yes, we have a responsibility to leave this - our world - at least as good as we found it. We should leave it no worse!

Our system of government is one of a representative democracy. The Res Publica, rule of the people, is based upon a delegation of governance. Every two years we select from a body of candidates for various public offices and choose who will represent us (and our wishes) in setting the course for our future as a nation. This is a sacred mandate and one NOT taken lightly. The majority rules, or does it?

You see there is only the perception that the majority rules and sets the course for our ship of state. By inaction, or choosing not to participate, the cumulative rule of the 51’s comes into play. If only 51% of all the eligible citizens have registered to vote, and only 51% of those actually vote; the fraction of a fraction algorithm kicks in - creating a sub-population of 26%. Taking this example the final step on Election Day and presuming a very close outcome, 51% of that sub-population of 26% means that some 13% will be the real deciders of who will chart the course for our nation during the next two years. We should now know from past experiences that a lot of damage can happen in just two years.

In this worst case scenario of action by inaction, the fiction of majority rule becomes a miniscule fractional minority that ends up making their choice for all of us. Given all the negativity, muckraking, and out-and-out falsehoods broadcast during the campaigns in this election cycle which have been compounded by all the scandals - sexual and financial, there is a really strong temptation to say: “to Hell with it, I’m not voting at all because they’re all crooks and my vote doesn’t count anyway!” Been there, thought that – but such inaction is still a cop out. Making the effort to choose and to vote you are pro-active, not inactive - you truly become part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

There is a related legal fiction in western democracies that “silence gives consent.” By choosing not to vote, you are in effect deferring your right to decide to the will of those who take the time and make the effort to vote - thereby blessing THEIR decision. I can live with an election that clearly reflects the will of a majority of TH*NK*NG Americans; I’ll have to for at least two more years. Please don’t morph our system of majority rule into the rule of a minority (by proxy) because you chose not to vote for whatever reason! I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright Questions, Inc. 2006 all right reserved.


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