The Price of Literacy

Literacy has long been a noble goal of societies around the world. However, literacy comes at a very high price. What?

That’s right, there’s a toll to be paid for literacy, one that can be an extreme burden. For example, if a citizen is ignorant, unable to read and understand the language of the law of his nation, this citizen can live with little worry about the pending doom the governing class foists upon him. He can blissfully dwell among his fellows, unaware of any number of injustices that he might otherwise protest.

Case in point is Page 16 of the current healthcare bill before the House of Representatives (of the United States that is). For all the Executive Branch bleating of how Americans will be free to choose their healthcare options (and all the reinforcement of this claim by Congress), a literate citizen need only glean the truth of Congress’ actual intentions from the aforementioned page. Should this bill become law (is there any doubt?), a citizen will not be allowed to change their plan. For example, if an employee leaves a company currently providing private coverage to work on his own, he will not be permitted to buy his own policy. Furthermore, a citizen having private coverage won’t be able to change it. Now what? Welcome to socialized medicine.

Now, an illiterate person would have nothing to worry about. He could sit back, hear his Congress and Chief Executive make promises, and have no reason to challenge them. Then, when the promises are revealed to be lies, he’ll be stuck doubting himself. Wasn’t I promised free choice? he will ask himself. Maybe not, he might conclude. After all, he couldn’t write down what he heard, nor read the printed statements should they even exist in a digitally erased world.

A literate person, on the other hand, picks up a proposed Bill, reads it, arrives at bold statements that will become the law of the land, and realizes that there is a contradiction. There is something that doesn’t mesh with what’s being said. Normally, an intrepid member of a free press would be such a person. A reporter, as they used to be called, would take in verbal statements, correlate them (or not) with the proposed legislation, and REPORT that there are serious discrepancies. A really adventurous reporter might even go so far as to ask one of the legislators to EXPLAIN the differences. Alas, this is no longer the case. Reporters have become journalists, as in they JOURNAL, they doodle their pencils at the behest of those in office. Perhaps the journalists are afraid of something. Perhaps the office holders dangle some Sword of Damocles over the heads of media members. Or, perhaps incompetence reigns in this profession.

At any rate, a literate person pays the price of his abilities. He knows that not only is the storm coming, but that the subsequent devastation will be his problem. Of course, the literate can accept this tyranny, or they can use the power of words to challenge, defy, and ultimately vanquish it. Or not. Didn’t someone once say that ignorance is bliss? They did. Nonetheless, the second half is often omitted: Bliss is short lived.

Published in: on July 16, 2009 at 12:26 pm  Comments (4)  
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