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The Federalist Diaries


The Eleventh Commandment, Part 3:
Should We Ask Mel Brooks?

Семь раз отме́рь, оди́н отре́жь.

Translation from Russian: Measure seven times, cut once. 

           In part one, we stated the eleventh commandment, “We shall not pass judgment or take action without confirming the information which has incited or attracted us.”  In part two, we suggested that a family member or close friend become a guardian, confirming information before we ourselves decided or took action.  In this part, we look at the feasibility of having a guardian, because feasibility could lead to a needed renaissance of democracy in our country and give democracy a new respect around the world.   

            Let us start by considering that we already have guardians in our lives, although we do not call them that.  Our physician is a guardian; we rely on his or her confirmation of information.  A lawyer and an accountant, too, are guardians, as are other professionals. 

            But that does not mean that we would ask a lawyer to confirm that a congratulatory letter telling us that we have won the lottery would be true.  Would you pay $50 to $200 for the lawyer to say “yes” or “no”?  Also, does our physician have the time to speak about a ballot proposition?  Would we contact her every time we heard a claim about a wonder drug or miracle cure?  So we do need a family member or close friend as a guardian. 

            There is no cookie-cutter answer as to who should be the guardian.  For some of us, a professional in the family, whom we could call at home or see at a family gathering, could serve as a guardian.  For others, a creative combination of retiree, who has the experience, and teenager, who has the exposure to fact and discussion in school (at least theoretically), could serve as a guardian team.  For yet others among us, we might form a circle of friends and ask each person to be a guardian with regard to a subject, like health, the law, propositions, consumer products, and so on.  This last one could be made interesting if we gathered once a week for coffee and conversation on things that mattered.  (Let us develop that thought.  A café discounts for “coffee and conversation” clubs on certain evenings.  There is even a tax incentive to form such clubs—certainly a creative alternative to the “Hail, Mary” approach whenever the California Secretary of State spends millions printing those thick proposition books and expects us to learn from them.  Maybe, instead of paying for those books, our state should pay for the coffee and conversation?) 

            This last option would seem feasible for most people, because there would be an element of enjoyment, which would translate into sustainability.  In other words, if we took the eleventh commandment and the need for a guardian to heart, the last option, for most of us, would have the best chance of continuing for years to come.  Additionally, as each person became a guardian for a subject, learning how to research that subject, he or she would have a research skill, which could enable her to give a second opinion on a different subject.  (Yes, just as we seek second opinions about our health.) 

            If we adopt the eleventh amendment and make it a habit to confer with a guardian, will there be enough benefit to us to justify our investment of time and energy?     

January 25, 2007































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