Seeking a rational democracy

Parking lot run-in leads to thoughts on the downfall of society

The author is a retired English instructor who last taught at Butte College.

As I was leaving the Target parking lot the other day—admittedly slightly askew in my “lane”—a young woman in a sporty car spun around me and shouted, “Get out of my fucking way you dumb cunt!” Not quite Chico hospitality, I’d say, and all I could do was smile to myself. Whoever she was, she must have been awfully angry to shout those words at a complete stranger.

But the episode got me thinking. Something big has gone awry, and we need to fix it. We’ve got this great democracy and look what it has gotten us: people saying whatever they want regardless of the outcome, because they are protected by the First Amendment; open gun-carrying in Georgia and likely other states; a sense of entitlement, that “I get to do what I want because I live in a free country”; a Congress that has chosen to cater to the desires of lobbyists, disregarding the needs of citizens; more entitlement, from big corporations receiving government subsidies to students implying that since they show up to class, aren’t they supposed to get an A?

I think it’s the guns that are finally getting me down. After each shooting, the NRA entrenches even more in the right to bear arms. A friend told me about a recent rally he’d witnessed for freedom and liberty in Ashland; afterward, a large contingent carried assault weapons through downtown. This is not the world I want to spend my final years in. It’s bad enough that phones seem to have sucked up their owners, controlling them without regard for people around them.

So I’d like to advocate for some civility, perhaps a rational democracy where individuals express what they believe but consider the consequences their words might have, too. Let’s agree that there is room for disagreement in most discussions. Let’s take into consideration those less fortunate, watch out for the other guy, and be kind to one another.

And let’s think very hard about what some philosophers have concluded concerning the ultimate downfall of a democracy: loss of community because of over-emphasis on individuality. I’d like us to keep our community, thank you, and maybe even find the best location for all concerned for the farmers’ market!