Opinion Columns & Blogs

Do they know what’s best for me?

I find myself saying, “I used to” a lot these days. I used to do this or that or that other thing. Maybe that just comes with getting older, but I used to not do it as much.

I used to think most politicians were just like me; now I know they’re not. I used to think I could trust the television news media; now I know I can’t. I used to think life was pretty much going to stay the same, but now I know change is inevitable.

As I write this, it’s about two weeks until we vote, and I’m one of those folks who believe things are not like they used to be and we need a change. Now I’m not saying things like they used to be were better — some were, some weren’t. What I am saying is that I don’t like some of what’s going on and have issues with some of that. Here are a few with no answers, just what ifs, whys and wherefores and mostly directed at our political leaders, who for some reason, feel as though they know what’s best for me.

Why are we still in the Middle East if oil is not wanted or needed? If it’s a humanitarian issue, walk through any major city in this country, and you’ll see humanity in need. And if you want to send young men and women over there to fight, send yours first, wearing a helmet and carrying a rifle, not a law book. My grandson is just fine where he is.

Next, why can’t we get along with Russia? We got along with Stalin, who killed millions before nuclear war was an option. Now we hear talk of limited nuclear war. The next time you take a walk through the woods on a beautiful fall day, picture the trees gone and ask why.

Third, why can’t we get to the root of the education “problem,” which is parents who place no value on education, who don’t read to their children, appear to have no time for them and don’t value any school event that doesn’t involve athletics? We’ve looked everywhere else for a solution. Our need for an educated populace requires us to begin to look more at the home environment and find ways to help parents see the need to read.

Fourth, why are we so divided as a country? Is it a divide-and-conquer issue, as some would have us believe? And is television the means, allowing us to see only divisions? When I go about my daily business, dealing with hundreds of people during the week, watching people at stores, downtown, etc., I don’t see the vitriol projected on television. I see people holding doors open for each other, showing respect for each other and worrying about the same things I worry about. Watching television, I see a different picture of a nation seemingly on the verge of anarchy; then politicians stirring the pot in order to get elected. We have to be smarter than that and recognize manipulation for what it is. If you think about it, television thrives on controversy from cop shows to news. Too much of the idiot box can make one an idiot.

Lastly, we are a country of individuals, founded on principles sacred to individual rights. Who has the authority to tell us how to live other than being law-abiding citizens? Who has the audacity to believe they know more about what’s right and good for our families than “we the people”?

The issues we hear being bandied about in the media are a distraction from the issue and that is the very important aspect of being an American: Individual freedom. I used to believe that and still do. When I go to vote it will be based more on that principle than any other; my right to determine my destiny. The candidate most likely to ensure that right is maintained used to get my vote. Nov. 8, if I can find that candidate, they’ll get it again.

Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.