Many, many, many years ago, I came across a book of essays entitled, “I Dissent” or maybe it was “We Dissent.” I can’t remember now. But, what I do remember is the effect that it had on me. It was the first time that I encountered a validity to the idea of challenging authority. The essays, or at least my internalization of them, presented the challenge of authority as one responsibility of the citizens of a democracy. In this context, the challenge is not a call to man the barracks; it is not to become oppositional simply for the sake of it; it is not to obstruct, as so many in our current Congress appear to believe. It is an entreaty to question and to participate in society with intellect, as well as heart.
I am of the opinion that without a knowledge of history, dissent risks advancing without the substance necessary to persuasion. My formal education in America, alas, did not provide me with a conversance of how human beings got from “there” to “here.” What it did give me was the desire to know. And in the 21st Century that’s all one needs. Information on any and everything is just a click away, waiting for our encounters to make some reasonable sense of it all. Plus, we have the wealth of services at public libraries. I want a bumper sticker that says “Love Your Librarian!”
Our government tells us the what of policies, rarely does it tell us the whys of policies, and never does it tell us the possible consequences of policies, potential or real. These things we must ferret out for ourselves - if we want to know.
Right now, I’m waiting to see if the G20 Summit gets around to discussing how the international community will deal with those wealthy individuals and corporations who have become such adept tax dodgers, and, hoping that we don’t punish one immoral act with another in the Middle East. In the meantime, I dissent.