When I was in high school I competed in track and field as a high jumper. I was very good, later reaching the exalted height of 7 feet. That’s without a pole, just me and my skinny legs. But at the Upland Invitational track meet I only made two jumps to win, or so I thought. When they called out the winner, it was my opponent.
I looked around to see if it was a joke, stared at the judges to see if they were rechecking the stats, but their decision had been made. I had two choices, accept my loss or fight for my victory. I tentatively approached the judges table; they had just awarded the gold medal to my opponent and I quietly said “I think you made a mistake.”
After a few anxious moments of just standing there the judge on the end looked up and said “what?”
“You made a mistake. I won the high jump.” He looked at me with a sorry face and with a tone of conciliation, “Young man, we’re sorry but you did not win and the award has been presented.”
“But I had fewer jumps then he did.” I blurted.
It took a few more exchanges and silent consultations but they all agreed I had won, I did indeed have fewer jumps and we both cleared the same height of 6’8” to be exact. But they were reluctant to reverse the decision.
I tried one more time. “Excuse me!” Speaking to the entire panel, “Did I win or not?” They all agreed that I had, “Then I want my medal,” I demanded in a raised voice. I got my medal but no one on that panel was happy about my insistence; they complained to my coach who complained back to me and told me that I was acting like a child and was being a poor sport.
The learning that took place on that day has served me well but we’re in the same place as a country as I was as a high jumper, so many years ago. We’re being told that what we do has no meaning, it has no value and there is no reward for our efforts. In fact we are being punished for doing what we are asked to do, even when we excel in regards to those requests.
A few years ago the electric providers did the same thing, telling us all to conserve, raise our thermostats to 80 degrees, only use major appliances during non peak hours and take shorter showers. We complied but they raised our rates with the blessing of the state regulators to compensate there losses due to lower usage.
So my question is why should we bother conserving or even serving when in the end we get kicked in the teeth for our efforts? Why should we go out of are way to use less water, suffer the heat, pay our school taxes or any other sacrifice when we know in the end we will end up paying more and getting less?
I’m sure you have your own stories of a government gone wild. Please share them. This is not about a cheap little medal from some obscure sporting event; this about our lives, our rights and our freedoms. This is about the few (the privileged and powerful few) telling the masses to sacrifice so they don’t have too.
Saying what is right is one thing but changing what is wrong is another. All I can do is write and hope others read (and comment), but there is so much more at stake, so much more to loose if we do nothing. Our efforts can only succeed if we work together. We need to stand up to the judges and demand our rewards for our labors just as I did in demanding my gold medal. We need to insist that they listen and be resolute in our resolve for justice, or at least hold them accountable for the stewardship's they covet.