The Hogs Are in the Parlor
Here in the Next Dimension, nothing is automatically accepted as truth, whatever its origin. In the very month we are asked to prove our patriotism by voting, my intention is to dismiss the common slogans and popular notions that scream at us daily about voting being the essential mark of good citizenship. Such a belief is far different from the original form of democracy, when the ancient Greeks (males only) voted by dropping pebbles into urns, and when it was required that all men participate in the political system and, if needed, give their lives in its defense.
In contrast, many people in this election season might very well agree with America’s great 19th century political radical, Henry David Thoreau, who said, “All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked… Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail.”
The political system in America is so broken that nearly 50 percent of our citizens choose not to vote at all, even in presidential elections.
From the Next Dimension, I encourage you to vote as an expression of your political inclinations, but please do not think that voting alone makes you a good and solid citizen. It is just a part of being a good citizen; a beginning at best, a charade at worse.
How simple is our current belief system: Vote and you are a good citizen, don’t and you’re a bum with zero rights to complain about the state of your nation or community. This concept declares that voting in and of itself, despite a voter’s knowledge, or her or his actual involvement in the political world, is all it takes to be a good citizen.
We in the Next Dimension believe no such thing, as it does nothing to address why we have such a miserably low voter turnout and, even more, does nothing to create a political model that encourages us to become more involved and active in the political system itself.
Those already in power desperately want you to believe that your only responsibility as a good citizen is to vote in large part because they benefit from the status quo of anger and despair rampant these days. As Thoreau also said, “The hogs are in the parlor.”
Those already in power want us to be satisfied or utterly befuddled by our chaos, suspicion and hatred. They want us to feel hopeless and weak. They have no interest at all in having citizens involved in the politics that shape our laws and our lives.
They want, more than anything, to stay in the parlor.
But in the Next Dimension, we will not ignore history. We will not forget that it was once legal to slaughter Native Americans when we invaded this land, or that it was once legal to own slaves, or that it was once legal to deny women a plethora of rights. We will also not forget that voting alone did not change these laws.
Please do vote, but know too that it is not enough. The citizens of the Next Dimension must develop a better political and cultural environment than we have now, and we must not shy away from difficult questions.
Yours in peace from the Next Dimension.
Dale Goodvin lives in Longbranch.