Et tu, Dr. Seuss?

Heavens. People are just running this whole Dr. Seuss thing into the ground, hollering about “cancel culture” when they have no idea what “cancel culture” really means. Dr. Seuss is not being cancelled. His work is not being cancelled. A total of six books that he wrote, back when Jesus was still a baby, have been removed from publication. His estate initiated that request, not activists, not Black Lives Matter, not Asian-Pacific Islanders. His estate found it incongruent with his legacy that images viewed as insensitive racial stereotypes in some of his works would continue to be published without modification. There is no change or withdrawal of the remaining voluminous portfolio of his work. Horton will still hear a Who, the Cat in the Hat will still wreak havoc with Thing 1 and Thing 2, and the Grinch will remain the minority leader of the U.S. Senate. Dr. Seuss himself modified a few of the troubling images from other works long before he died, acknowledging changing public mores and simply, having more information.

People have been looking for energy vents to let go of excess lockdown energy for a while. The mass temper tantrum of January 6 was as much a vent as anything else. We’ve been locked down and restricted in many ways for a solid year. We’re grieving…we had no (or seriously muted) Thanksgiving, no Christmas, no New Year’s Eve, no Mardi Gras, and now the sun is coming out and we’re back to looking down the double barrel of beaches and beer. I believe there is actually some despair brewing in people, and having a vaccine rodeo is not really helping. People, some who should know better, are more than willing to call this a wrap, crisis is over, throw off your masks and hit the restaurants, the bars, the beaches, the pool. Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!

Well, it will be interesting to see how this premature unshackling of the masses will pan out. Most health gurus are predicting unwelcome spikes in infection rates, although hopefully the vaccines will stave off increased hospitalization and death rates. I’ve become somewhat of a cynic about public information, so my jury is out on all of it. I’ll get the vaccine when I’m allowed, and then – like with anything else – will take it a day at a time. I’m perfectly fine with continuing this inner sanctum thing for a while longer, ’cause as I’ve been saying from the beginning of this, it’s not the virus that scares me, it’s the poor judgement of my fellow human beings.

So, we’re chomping at the bit, like kids waiting for the school bell on the last day of class before summer break. We’re ready to roll, so until then, we’re going to make use of any distraction possible, by any means necessary. OK, let’s discuss Dr. Seuss a bit more, and whether or not he was being malicious or not, and whether or not all his books should be banned. Banned? Who said anything about banning anything? Six books will not be published any longer. Period. Get a grip, people.

Aside from analyzing Dr. Seuss and cancel culture to death, let’s go to Prince Harry and Megan Markle, and the monarchy of a country that’s not even ours. Let’s talk about Mr. Moose Horns and his organic jail food, and the insurrection, and whether or not the guy with his feet on Nacy Pelosi’s desk should remain in jail. Let’s rake the governor of NY over the coals and try him in the court of public opinion for alleged sexual harassment…is it textbook, or just generic harassment? Compare and contrast, and discuss. And by all means, let’s talk about whether or not the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is not “the best” and should be avoided because it is based on the stem cells of aborted fetuses. Oh, and let’s not forget to accuse the new President of failing to fulfill campaign promises that Congress refused to support – we knew the $15/hour labor rate was doomed in this effort weeks ago. That’s not news. By all means, though, let’s totally avoid getting relief checks into the hands of the people who are desperate for them – Congress people can mentally masturbate for days turning the relief effort upside down and inside out, reading a 680+ page text out loud and gleefully cackling over how far they can go to obstruct the agenda of the President. That’s helpful. Remember, folks – it’s public SERVICE not public HINDRANCE. Who is served by the flexing of tiny muscles over status-quo procedural fluff? Short-sightedness and self-aggrandizement is in the eye of the beholder, apparently.

If we’re going to get out of this deep, dark hole we’re going to have to stay focused, and on point. Yes, I understand many of us are ADD, ADHD, focus-challenged, whatever…but stay with me, people. The point is – the only point is – pandemic response. That’s square zero. It’s not the only square, and yes, there are a lot of other squares to be concerned with, but…if we can’t get clear of this one, we’re not going to get anywhere. I’m very hopeful that death rates from COVID will decline, but if we can’t get vaccines into people, that’s not going to happen. What is nauseating about all of this is the politics. It’s a health crisis, not a political crisis, but it’s been made into serial showdowns of partisan firepower. Stupid. Nobody can vote for you if they’re dead. Nobody is GOING to vote for you if you prevent them from voting at all. Again…get a grip. As my mother would have said, catch a hold of yourself.

There are things on the horizon that need attention, once we can point our eyes in the same direction. Voter suppression is still a reality, and various states are putting forward legislation to further, or at least better, suppress voting. They are trying to eliminate mail-in voting entirely, and refuse to consider automatic voter registration. The effort is concentrated on making voting more difficult, not easier. The will of all the people is not the goal, apparently. The will of the powerful is more the desired outcome. This is not democracy, but then it never was. The Continental Congress was not enabling the will of the people, but of white, male, monied land owners. That’s fine, it’s just part of our history. The point is, though, representative democracy was an aspiration. It was anti-monarchy. I don’t believe the effort to enable the people to speak was supposed to end there. And it hasn’t. The problem is that some are trying to reign in that effort, and it’s not their place to do that. The white, mostly male, monied, land owners are still trying very hard to drive the bus, but that only works if it’s a movie. This is real life, and people have needs, and they don’t all have to agree with the bus driver. Again, public service in a representative democracy would imply that our representatives attempted to honestly sort out and balance the will of ALL the people. It’s not easy. It may be functionally impossible, but there should be a credible attempt. Too many of us have evidence that our voices are ont heard, that we are virtually invisible to our government. Not good.

So what’s a beleaguered elected official to do?
— First, they must toss of selfish aims. They have to understand, pledge, vow their duty to represent the constituency, not themselves, and not their party affiliation.
— Second, they have to form relationships with the constituency so they understand and know the issues that affect people’s lives. The knowledge of how lives are affected shouldn’t come from lobbyists, or academes, or associates. If someone needs help, you don’t help them in the manner YOU are most comfortable with, you help them in the manner they need, at least to the best of your ability. When the house falls down, you can’t send thoughts and prayers and say you didn’t know the builder wasn’t licensed and did a bad job.
— Third, and not necessarily finally, they have to be able to re-evaluate and re-start. Even the NFL does that…”after further review, the call is reversed”. Things change. Say you made a mistake, or it looks different now, or this isn’t working and we need to try something else.

Damn – why is that so hard? We are not supposed to be electing demagogues, or demigods. We’re supposed to be electing human beings who want to help us share a common good. Good. That’s the goal – the common good. Or so I think. I’ve been wrong before. But regardless…we can’t go back and have a re-do on the last 400 years. I do think, however, we can maybe stop the missteps. Admit they are missteps, and let’s pause a moment. Like when babies learn how to walk. They have to take a second and get their balance, then make another hesitating step, not quite sure of how it’s going to turn out. That’s about where we are, although we are toddlers with checkbooks, cars, alcohol, and firearms. Scary. I just hope our aim is a little better than the average 2-year old.

Things are not always what they seem.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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