Listen to the silence

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Apathy is affecting citizens coast to coast

By John Pawlak

What one does is important, but what one says can be just as important.  
In fact, we even have laws stipulating what can or cannot be said.
You can’t launch a volley of vulgarity in a public restaurant. You can’t yell “Fire!” in a building just for fun. You can’t joke about having a gun in an airport.
Oddly enough though, there’s no law against lying.
When running for governor or the House or any other political office, you can pretty much say anything you want without risking prosecution for conveying a falsehood, for stretching the truth a bit, for distorting the facts, for making up facts, for misinforming or misleading, for fabricating fiction, for political prevarication, or for being an outright liar.
Yes, there’s a lot of stretched truths and brazen mistruths tossed around lately. I find myself predisposed to sudden body weight loss when I hear a politician leveraging emotional rants of “secure our borders” or “smoke out the terrorists” to justify trampling civil rights or promoting racist behavior under the flag of patriotism.
But there is something far worse than the ubiquitous lies and distortions inundating us these days.  
We are suffering from a pathology of apathy that infects citizens coast to coast.
People simply don’t listen.
Consider the problems that face you throughout the year.  Your children’s schools are underfunded.  Your roads are crumbling.  The distant mountains become dimmer and dimmer each year as the air around us is slowly polluted.  Thousands of children are missing each year, families torn apart by grief.  Alcoholism and drug addiction cost us billions each year.  Hundreds of thousands die from cigarette smoking. Car theft, murder, kidnappings, theft, burglary, muggings.  Our nation is dying.
And so what do regressive power-seekers do?  They wave banners of national pride, blame migrant workers and slaughter house workers for the potholes in our roads, warn of impending doom, and chant well-rehearsed rhetoric of national security.  
You would think people would be more concerned with the quality of the water they drink, or the air they breathe, or the streets they drive?  We’re becoming a nation of reactive non-thinkers, the perfect breeding ground for politicians who rush towards power based on building walls rather than building trust, the very antithesis of leadership, people who work hard to separate rather than unite us.
But people don’t listen, at least not to those trying to fix the world.  Wave tea bags and yell about taxes and people will vote for you.  Call someone a socialist and people will vote for you.  Use racism and fear to demean your opponent and people will vote for you.
But talk about spending more money on schools and hospitals and fire fighters and you’ll have an argument on your hands.
Well, arguments are a good thing.  They induce people to listen.  But you can’t listen to what isn’t said.  And so the worst behavior isn’t that of politicians.
It’s the dismal silence of people not voting.  When you don’t vote, it doesn’t matter what you would like to say.  No one is there to hear you.
The only thing that annoys me more than apathy is silent rage.  This election, you must vote.  Do you want more walls?  Do you want more civil rights?  Do you want police beating and dragging illegals out of the country?  Do you want more money spent on schools?  If you want something, then vote.
I really don’t care if you’re against or for military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, against or for legalizing aliens who have worked here for years, against or for shooting polar bears and wolves.  Your opinion is yours and it’s your right to agree or disagree with me or anyone else.
But if you don’t vote, then you have no right to say anything.  Vote or shut up!  You have rage?  
Then vote and be heard.  Otherwise, sit back and just be quiet because no one wants to hear what you have to say.

John Pawlak is a
LAHS teacher