The idea of blaming a leader or "government" for our ills or prosperity may have floated down from the land of Wynken, Blynken and Nod, the place where comforting lullabies rock us into a deep sleep.
Railing against government assumes, of course, that we ourselves are not responsible, that it is a distant panel of tax-spending warlords, far, far away from our reach or influence. The Royal They.
Now, it is observable that we have a president, senators, congressmen and assorted other representatives making an earnest effort to further their opinions. Like any committee I am thrilled not to have been nominated for, I am glad these people are making an attempt to steer the vessel USS America through rocky seas, albeit the rockiness of which many of them have created themselves with misguided decisions.
But as a result we have roads that we can travel on, we have general hospitals, we have money for my disabled daughter's care, we have laws that work, we have fire trucks, we have protected religion, we have permits for parades of protest. We have open space and cross walks. And we have catastrophic war and misspent millions. The fact is, we may not control every aspect of it, but have a say in all of it. No one but us put those candidates in office, or fought for our benefits, or enlisted to fight in those wars. We are the creators of our own future, our own government, our own peace or lack thereof.
The Eugene Field lullaby that starts with a dream of Wynken, Blynken and Nod, three fishermen in a wooden shoe on a magic sea, ends up telling the sleepy child the truth:
"Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies,
Is a wee one's trundle-bed… "
And of course the truth is that we are the Royal They. When we demand changes, when we help, when we share our opinions, when we fight or disagree, when we insist upon participating, or when we refuse to participate, when we understand, choose, and teach ethics, we become our own form, not formed from afar. And as luck would have it — our imperfect American government — forming us and formed by us — affords us those sacred human rights.
With a Perspective, I'm Jolie Kanat.
Jolie Kanat is executive director for supported living services in Marin.