Apostrophes. What's the big deal? Are these little lines suspended in midair supposed to save time or space or what? Sure, saying: "I don't understand" is a little simpler than saying: "I do not understand." But is the saving of time significant? OK, I suppose if you always use "can't" for "cannot," "you're" for "you are," and "didn't" for "did not," in the course of a lifetime you might save a few minutes. Might. So what, I say!
And as for space, in virtually every word that includes an apostrophe, you save exactly one letter; the "o" in "cannot," the "a" in "you are," and the "o" in "did not." Or maybe you save the space between the words. I'm not sure. But what's the big deal??!! And I suppose if you used contractions consistently over life time, you might save a few sheets of paper, maybe a ream, maybe even a tree!!! But they are renewable resources anyway, right???!!!
Ahem. The above paragraphs are supposed to show increased intensity, agitation, and volume. They're supposed to represent a rant.
Rants are rampant these days. Whole TV networks are devoted to them. They are substituted for substantive opinions and well-researched, reasonable repartee. They contribute to the polarization that is not doing any of us any good. They are fodder for the politics pushers. And such politics are a pile of poop when what we want and need is government.
Here's how it's playing out these days: I believe this and you believe that. Therefore I'm right and you're wrong! Therefore I'm smart and you're stupid! Therefore I am good and you're evil!!! SHUT UP YOU NON-BELIEVING, WRONG-MINDED, STUPID, EVIL, ENEMY OF ALL BELIEVING, RIGHT-MINDED, SMART, GOOD, PEOPLE LIKE ME! GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM, SOON AS YOU SHOW ME YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE TO SEE IF YOU EVEN BELONG HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!
I'm weary of all this. It's a power play, plain and simple. It appeals to our basest, automatic, most animal-level brains. It is reactionary and devoid of meaningful discourse. It is political claptrap leading to gridlock, leading to virtually no government. (Note that there is never any danger of "political shut-down," just "government shut-down." I say shut down politics and get government up and running.)
Who's going to take the lead in this revolution? The Tea Party? Nope. They will eventually just have to play the politics game like everyone else. Leaders will emerge with the same attitudes as all other party leaders: "We know what's best for the country." What they are really saying is: "We know what's best for YOU!" And the best we can hope for is yet another group of experts who can "prove" they have it figured out while experts from other factions "prove" them wrong."
Is an "educated electorate" the answer? Maybe. Too bad there are so many cuts to education at federal and state levels. Here's a conspiracy theory to go along with the rant: Those holding the purse strings have nothing to gain by educating the electorate. Dumbing us all down makes it easier for them to snow us with their "superior" ideas.
I have no idea what the solution is. Politicians have turned away from governing. All they need to do is get elected and they're set for life. Six-figure salary/benefits packages, life-time pensions at full salary, perfect health care all done by themselves for themselves at taxpayer expense. And what is their incentive for changing this broken system? There isn't one.
Just listen to me! I'm a ranter right up there with the rest of them, aren't I? All talk and no action. I'm ashamed of myself. Too bad politicians never feel that way.
Gary Lester, M.S., is the executive director of Family Services of Warren County-a charitable agency that helps people solve problems and be happier through counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups. Learn more about this important work at www.fswc.org.