I have been searching for the right analogy to describe the contradiction displayed when a person runs for and becomes elected to public office with the stated intention of dismantling the regulations and institutions that make up the government itself (think Ronald Reagan, at times Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Scott Walker, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, the entire Tea Party, Libertarians…) I will of course report it here first because I think we are in dire need of a way to explain why that is so incredibly destructive to the people who are simply not getting that they are actually tearing themselves and their communities down in the process.
As I am going through this creative process, I am paying even closer attention than I normally do to the way writers use analogy and metaphor to express concepts and ideas, a skill I have retapped from when I was teaching. And I guess because I am so tuned in, I was profoundly affected by the way writer and blogger John Scalzi used an Ursula Le Guin story to frame his very concise description of the way adults failed to protect children in the Penn State child molestation scandal. The story describes a utopia where everyone is perfectly happy and well cared for, with the exception of one child that is kept in a miserable and disgusting solitary confinement. Each citizen is ultimately told of the child and then must make the decision whether or not to accept that their seemingly perfect existence requires the constant suffering of an innocent child. Obviously, this means that everyone who has been living there knows and has done nothing to protect the child.
This powerful and simple metaphor should give every single person who reads about the adults’ lack of action in protecting the children that were sexually abused by Jerry Sandusky the clarity to understand that all of these adults willfully chose to let a child suffer to protect their utopia that was Penn State. And yes, that includes the man at the top himself, Joe Paterno. Few things in life are black and white, almost none. The one exception: there is nothing defensible about doing the least to protect a child from being raped by an adult. Not. One. Thing.
Please read John Scalzi’s excellent piece here.
And stay tuned for my breakthrough analogy on government and it’s elected officials.