Twisters, wicked witches, vacuous wizards and flying monkeys aside, if we clicked our heels three times and repeated “there’s no place like home,” will we discover that we’ve actually always had the power to return to “Kansas?” What if we turned our attention from the chaos in Washington and rededicated ourselves to building order in how we’re living into the promise and principles of democracy with each other? If we don’t, who will?
One of the great achievements of free society in a stable democracy is that many people, for much of the time, need not think about politics at all. The president of a free country may dominate the news cycle, but he is not omnipresent — he isn’t highly relevant to how we live our lives with each other, as neighbors. A free society means being free of those who rule over you, to do the things you care about — your passions, your pastimes, your loves — to exult in that blessed space where politics doesn’t intervene.
In that sense, we already live in a country with markedly less freedom than we did. It’s less like living in a democracy than being a child trapped in a house where there is an abusive and unpredictable father, who will brook no reason, respect no counter-argument, admit no error, and always, always up the ante until catastrophe inevitably strikes.
But because we still live under the rule of law and don’t have to be ever vigilant, we can afford to turn the news off at times. What happens if we did? What can we find in each other, neighbor to neighbor? What if we rededicate ourselves to this most essential aspect of democratic self-governance that Washington doesn’t ultimately control — the “of, by, and for the people” of it all?
And what might happen in Washington if we did? (Photo credit.)