By RAHN ADAMS
Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t, that I’ve been quiet for the past few weeks. Timberley and I have been busy with some other pursuits and, frankly, I’m also reassessing my own personal use of the Internet in general and social media in particular.
Maybe a better way of expressing my dilemma is, just how much information of any kind do we really need, whether we’re consuming it or producing it? And if we can live happily and safely without all that is the Internet, good and bad, then why do we as a society continue to use and abuse it?
I’m certainly not a Luddite opposed to all technology. Thanks to technological advances in medicine, for example, Timberley’s recent out-patient surgery to remove a large kidney stone from her bladder was successful, safer and much less complicated than it might have been even 10 years ago. For that, we are thankful.
Earth Day is a good day to consider all this. Just as modern technology has largely caused our current problems with global warming and climate change, technologies that we have now and others that may be developed in the future will also play an irreplaceable role in saving us—if we are to be saved, that is.
Certainly, the congressman, two senators and president whom we individual voters elect to dole out our federal tax dollars prudently and to judiciously appoint the thousands of unelected public servants within our vast federal government play essential roles in determining our future well-being, not just in terms of climate change but in most other areas of national, personal and financial security.
A couple of weeks ago I received my second return letter from North Carolina’s junior U.S. senator Thom Tillis, a member of the Senate’s Armed Services; Banking, Housing, and Urban Development; Judiciary; Veterans’ Affairs; and Aging committees. How’s that for having a hand in average Americans’ lives? But as I noted several weeks ago after receiving my first return letter from Tillis, he and his staff must not really read the letters we constituents send him.
My first letter to Tillis included three requests—that he support public schools, not the diversion of tax dollars to private schools at the expense of true public education for all students; that he support First Amendment freedom of the press, in light of President Donald J. Trump’s asinine attacks on the news media; and that the senator “hold President Trump to the truth and … make clear your disapproval of his dishonesty, whether his lies come from him or his spokespersons.”
Tillis’ first return letter about a month later barely addressed only one of my three topics, that of education, in a broad “I’ll take Education for $100, Alex” kind of way. It was a poorly-chosen form letter that didn’t speak to the controversial issue that my letter to him had raised. So I pulled my original letter back up on my word processor, cut out its paragraph about education, rewrote my introductory opening paragraph, and mailed that letter to him. I wanted to see if he’d say anything substantive about Trump.
As you can read for yourself in the accompanying photograph of the second return letter, Tillis or one of his staff members apparently decided that I deserved a form response about “partisan gridlock.” Of course, his letter does open with, “Thank you for taking the time to contact me to express your concerns about President Trump.” From there on, it’s just so much bullshit about “working across the aisle,” as if Tillis and his GOP cronies in the Senate weren’t the bastions of obstructionism themselves during the Obama administration.
I’m still waiting to hear from Sen. Richard Burr and President Trump. It has been almost 100 days since I mailed my letters to each man. I’m hoping that Mr. Burr can emerge from the on-going Senate Russia investigations of the Trump campaign and administration as a true statesman much like Sen. Sam J. Ervin Jr. of Morganton did in the Watergate investigation that resulted in President Richard Nixon’s resignation in the 1970s. But as I’ve said before, I’m not holding my breath.
As far as Trump himself is concerned, my opinion of him hasn’t changed as we near this 100-day milestone in his presidency. He was a liar before he was elected, and he is still telling one lie after another to the American people. That’s all I need to know about him. Henry Thoreau must have been thinking about politicians when he said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” Or maybe he was thinking about us all.
As you might have noticed, I reactivated my Facebook account on the Saturday before Easter. Still, I’m trying my best to limit the time I spend looking at all social media mainly due to the way we’re manipulated by the individuals and organizations that control the various platforms or merely utilize them in order to sway public opinion. I’m not just talking about Russia here. And it isn’t just Fake News that we should worry about. Seeing anything over and over wears down a person’s resistance.
You might criticize this blog column similarly—that it’s my Facebook-assisted attempt to get folks to think as I do, or that I yearn for personal validation of some sort through Likes and Shares, or that I’m a contrary old retiree trying to start arguments over tired old horses that were beaten to death at least 100 days ago. I don’t know. Maybe so. But that’s why I’m struggling so much with my Internet use now.
Despite various setbacks, three things in particular have made me feel hopeful lately—attending all of my community’s Holy Week services, gathering with other Christians of different denominations each day from Palm Sunday through Easter; continuing to plan and research the new novel that Timberley and I have been working on for the past several months; and attending our first baseball games of the new season at L.P. Frans Stadium in Hickory.
Spring is the season of new life and of new hopes as well. When summer arrives and then when autumn and winter take their turns on our circle around the sun, we’ll have to deal with whatever those times of year bring us, both good and bad. But until then, we should bathe in the vitality of springtime and pray that we soak up enough of it to sustain us through the year ahead.
Happy Earth Day. Each of us must provide our own exclamation point.