“We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out.” Rodney King, May 1, 1992.
I shall not write about the remarkably energetic and stimulating columns published in The Record by my esteemed colleagues John Hymes and Lou Matz on abortion. It is interesting that Hymes claims: “no moral reasoning for abortion” can be found, while Matz, a philosophy professor at University of the Pacific, offered “morality should not be based on religion … but rather determined by reason, compassion and the consequences of human experience.”
I shall not offer up philosopher David Hume's famous observation: “The rules of morality are not conclusions of our reason.”
I will not observe that the true basis of the judicial decisions permitting abortion rests with the Ninth Amendment to our Constitution:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
This is the most philosophical of all the provisions in our Constitution. Those who are concerned about abortion, morality and reason, may want to ponder this fundamentally important but neglected provision of our Constitution.
I am not going to write about the Stockton City Hall scandal, where back in 2017, the city admitted that $25.5 million of mostly Measure A funds would be used to acquire and improve a new City Hall. In 2013, Measure A was passed by the voters largely to ensure an increase of 120 in the number of police officers. Alas, we have less than 66% of the promised additional police officers but we will get an unpromised new City Hall that was to cost $25.5 million. Excuse me, it seems the 2017 estimate was too low. The cost today is estimated at $63.3 million.
I shall write about something important that was lost, misplaced, almost dead, but which in this New Year, should be recalled to life.
The writer Joan Didion died in December. I pray that she will be remembered most for one statement she made in Slouching Towards Bethlehem:
“I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for oneself depends upon one's mastery of the language.”
The Yeats poem that framed Didion’s essay described a condition where “the falcon cannot hear the falconer” and “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
Because of the pandemic, because of politics, because of evil cycles in our social condition, we have been at each other's throats.
Can we think for ourselves? Can we lay down the “passionate intensity” and the extreme partisanship?
I wrote a column last year where I briefly discussed the scientific study that supported the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. If you care deeply about that topic, you should separate the persons who may be vocal advocates for or critics of vaccination and consider the best, unbiased evidence.
If you master the language, if you know simple arithmetic, you can decide for yourself. You should not rely on vocal others, not Ned Leiba, not Donald Trump, not Anthony Fauci. You can and should decide important matters of contestable facts and public policy for yourself.
That will yield far more accepted truths than reliance on, or splenetic opposition to, authority. Detach the hot partisans from the evaluative process. It will disarm, to a great degree, the unprecedented vituperation that is far more dangerous to our health than any virus.
Let us return to Rodney King: “We are all stuck here for a while.” And consider my good friend Charles Dickens. He spoke of the Christmas season:
“... as a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of (other) people . . . as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
As we move into 2022, we need to lay down the attacks on our fellow passengers, without losing our concern about important matters of public affairs. Rodney King and Charles Dickens beckon us to recall our humanity, and I write this article to urge us all, in 2022, to be recalled to life.
Happy New Year.
Ned Leiba is a certified public accountant, chair of the CalCPA San Joaquin Chapter Nonprofit Committee and a member of the CalCPA statewide Professional Conduct Committee.
This article originally appeared on The Record: Guest view: We all can get along. Happy New Year.