This morning I was driving for Lyft (check it out if you’re unfamiliar with it!) and I drove two folks who were in town from D.C. When I asked what they did, they told me they worked for non-profits–one that dealt with addressing and correcting flawed legislation in the education system (holy crap they must have their hands full!) and one that dealt with fighting corrupt contracting by the federal government.
As we talked through these issues a bit, I did my best to sound decently knowledgeable about what is going on, about what those jobs might entail. My knowledge is–I like to hope–slightly above average, but it still barely exceeds general ideas like, “Yeah, it seems like the public school system has a lot of red tape.” Or, “Yeah, unethical contracting is bad.” Both of those statements, while correct, reflect almost no substantial understanding whatsoever. Worse, they probably only reveal the shallowness of my lay-man’s understanding. (Think kiddie pool shallow.)
Oh, good for me, I know there’s some bad stuff going on! Not impressive. That basically verifies that I’m alive.
The point is, I genuinely try and be an informed, thinking person, and I don’t know squat. Then there is the big fat mass of population who couldn’t give two and a half runny craps about being informed at all. Maybe they are resigned to our inability to truly affect change. Hell, maybe they don’t even think that far and simply don’t care to expend their brain waves on such boring matters.
I’m struck by how little we care about things that are really important. And don’t worry, I’m not self-righteous. When I say we, I mean we. I’m as guilty as anyone.
This morning my passenger buddy with the awesome red beard told me about his non-profit’s most recent endeavor. They were combating some backwards contracts that our governments make with private prison companies–that’s right, companies who only make money if people go to jail–wherein the prisons are required to remain at least 90% full! WHAT?!?!?!? You’re telling me that our government wants people in jail??? That’s exactly what I learned today. I wasn’t even surprised at that fact, as disgusting as it is. I was frustrated that this, when you break it down, is a huge deal, but it makes no news. Why? Because news organizations make money when people are engaged, and people are engaged when there are news stories that they want to see. “Never mind the fact that our government is deliberately jailing its citizens for money–I wanna know what’s going on with MILEY!!!“
Show of hands. How many of you knew that Miley kissed Katy Perry? Okay, you can put them down now. Next, how many of you knew about this whole prison contract thingy? Exactly. (For the record, I actually knew about neither.)
So here’s my solution: I have no solution. And I am not much better than most. I do read the occasional book, but that’s the extent of my righteousness, not to mention I don’t retain much of the information any way. All I know is, the really important issues get a stubbed pinky toe’s worth of air time in comparison, because we need to see who got a boob job and what athlete cheated on what actress.
Why do I care about that? Or more importantly, why don’t I care about something that actually matters?
I’ll tell you why. Because it takes effort and it’s tiring. So instead of going and adding to my endless volume of socio-political knowledge, I’m gonna lean back, pop some pretzels and hummus, and watch the newest Archer.
Whether you’re jaded and undeservedly self-righteous, like me, or whether you’re lobbying to Audit the Fed at this very moment, please feel free to leave us a comment!