Though we are mere mortals we are the captains of our fate.
Sometimes we have to experience the consequences of our actions before we realize the importance of a decision. Sometimes we “get it” when we realize that we just consumed 1500 calories – and gained a pound. Or we adopted a cute puppy that turned into a long-lived menace. Or we splurged on a pricey car soon to be recalled because consumer safety advocates took action.
And sometimes we cast a vote for a school board member, a judge, a state representative, county noxious weed exterminator – or national leader — without thinking through that, once in office, the elected official will be making decisions that affect our property, our pension, our quality of life or that conflict with our values.
Back in the day we had — and took — time to know how the candidate answered follow-up questions. We could check the record. We thought through what lay behind the decisions, what were the influences and who were the influencers, how the views of the candidate might play out on a grander scale. We read the thoughtful commentaries of investigative journalists and editorialists – who had time and a mission to think things through.
Back in the day no one had enough money, much less the control of the media, to buy our sources of information much less our thought processes.
Not that we always made the best decisions – but at least the decisions were ours, and we lived with the consequences. We held to account those we elected to do the same. We expected to keep on asking questions until we got the answers – directly or indirectly. We turned to the intermediaries – most often a free press – not to determine our thoughts but to help us figure out the implications of the rhetoric.
Bottom line – we couldn’t be bought. We had the tools, the time and the opportunity to govern ourselves. The challenge – to take charge of our own power to observe, learn, think things through, decide, demand accountability, deal with consequences, admit our complicity in bad decisions, reboot as necessary.