A positive challenge for SelmiansPublished 10:30pm Saturday, September 24, 2011
Pogo comic strip author Walt Kelly coined one of the most popular and repeated pop culture quotes of this generation when his title character said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
The phrase, which is a parody of a message used by a Navy Commodore in the 1800s, was used in Kelly’s strip on Earth Day in 1971 to focus attention on an anti-litter campaign, but it has since been used to illustrate internal battles and how they affect the human condition.
If you apply Kelly’s quote to what is happening in our community, you don’t have to look far to see examples of its meaning. The most difficult challenges we face as a community are of our own doing. We’re quick to place blame on someone else or some “system” that doesn’t give us a fair shake. “I can’t do this because [fill in the blank]” is the cop out for a generation of people who are spoiled and lazy and are too accustomed to having their problems solved for them.
That apathetic mindset runs wild in our businesses, our civic clubs, and even our churches. I’ve heard the phrase “Well that’s just Selma…” more times than I care to stomach, as a way to excuse why something positive can’t happen here. Who’s to blame? We are, and that includes me at times.
Recently I was at a Rotary Club meeting where the speaker was District Court Judge Bob Armstrong. Bob spoke at length about how the court system has initiated programs to curb youth violence and improve self-esteem and shared the success rates the programs have had. But it was the last five minutes of his program that really caught my attention.
Bob asked for help; actually he issued a challenge. He challenged each of us to never say anything bad about Selma again. Bob may not be a Pogo fan, but he understands the concept Kelly conveyed through one simple phrase 40 years ago.
I’ve since passed along Armstrong’s challenge to others and have tried to live it myself. I’ll admit it’s difficult, especially when anonymous authors; bloggers who post vile untruths under pseudonyms and radio talk shows perpetuate hate and lies to serve their own agendas.
These people don’t want positive things to happen here. They thrive off discontent and they want to drag everyone around them into their cesspool of apathy so they’ll feel better about themselves.
In the Bible the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. [2 Timothy 4: 3-4]”
Paul’s letter to Timothy illustrates how this type of behavior has been around since the days of Christ. The question you need to answer for yourself is whether you are going to allow these “teachers” to continue to negatively impact your life. I’m not gullible enough to think never saying anything bad about Selma again will magically fix all our problems, but it’s a good place to start.