Jimmy Buffett, philosopher
I have also learned several reasons why most readers do not add their own comments, including:
1) Some prefer to remain below the radar for a variety of mostly personal reasons;
2) Some feel that it takes too much time to draft an intelligent remark;
3) Some believe that commenting on a blog may be fruitless because many key issues are decided in court by expensive attorneys representing developers and corporations, an arena in which they cannot compete financially;
4) Some don’t feel informed enough to make a real contribution;
5) Some feel helpless, hopeless, powerless, frustrated, or fed-up; they don’t believe their comments would make any difference, and they have become apathetic.
While these reasons are all valid, I’d like to address the last one. But first I digress.
As a Duke University undergrad, one of my many jobs was as a waiter in the restaurant of a Durham, NC hotel. During that time, Jimmy Buffett performed a concert at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and, although many of my friends had purchased tickets, I was scheduled to work and couldn’t find anyone to take my place. The waiters took turns delivering room service, and, as luck would have it, Jimmy was booked in our hotel, had ordered room service, and it was my turn! To make a long story short, Jimmy was incredibly friendly, offered to leave tickets for me at will call, and I got off in time to see the last half of his concert.
I mention this story because it’s fun to remember and because Jimmy’s songs and perspectives have a certain philosophical logic to them. Returning to reason # 5, I believe that this Jimmy Buffett quote accurately summarizes the challenge we now face, “Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don’t know and I don’t care.”
Do we care about, are we informed about, and can we influence the future of our community? What is the most effective way? If not by communicating with each other (either online or face-to-face), then how?
This entire discussion reminds me of an oft-repeated, but inaccurate, quote from English philosopher Edmund Burke, “All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” It turns out that Burke actually said, “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” (From "Thoughts on the cause of the present discontents".)
Of course, this is not necessarily a battle between good and evil; however, the lesson is clear. If we hope to oppose with united strength that with which we disagree, we had better link together. Is there a better way to link together than through the internet? Are we using it effectively? If not, what should we do differently?
Before I go, I’d like to offer a few more relevant quotes (since I know how much you love them):
Plato: “The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
Robert Hutchins: “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.
“Indecision may or may not be my problem.”
“We are the people our parents warned us about.”
“Fun is about as good a habit as there is.”
“If we weren’t all crazy, we’d just go insane.”
(And, in response to John Servais’ advice, “What we can do is our best. We cannot expect miracles.”)
“Count your blessings, but remember your dreams.”
“Please add your comment now.”