Equality, Mandates and High School English Class

Do you remember your reading list from back in your 9th or 10th grade English class?  You probably read things like The Scarlet Letter, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill A Mocking Bird and Animal Farm.  If you’re like me, you’ve been thinking a lot about Animal Farm this week.

For those of you who may not remember (or only skimmed the cliffsnotes… shame on you!), George Orwell’s short novel is a dystopian, satirical allegory about the animals on a farm in England.  On a simple level, this fable illustrates the saying “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” but it goes much farther than that.  It shows that even with the best of intentions, a utopian society is unattainable in a fallen world.  The animals start out by banding together and ridding themselves of human oppression.  The Pigs take the lead in educating, training and managing the other animals, and everything runs smoothly at first.  When 2 Pigs have a disagreement, one runs the other off the farm and through revisionist history and intimidation makes himself the uncontested leader.  And it’s basically all down hill for the common animals at that point.

So, without going into a full analysis of the book, my point is this: without a proper, functioning system of checks and balances with full and real representation of what the “common” members of society want, those in power will increase their authority exponentially.

Unfortunately, we saw a bit of this on Sunday night.  Look at the polls.  More Americans opposed this health care bill than supported it.  Look at the vote.  It was so close, without the coercion of certain congressmen with special deals and individual phone calls threatening to withdraw support from their campaigns for re-election the bill wouldn’t have passed.  Look at the disregard for the Constitution, the foundation of our country.

At the beginning of Animal Farm when the newly formed society was functioning, the Pigs created their own version of a constitution called the Seven Commandments, with the 7th and most important being “All animals are equal.”  It’s intention was to set ground rules for all the animals to follow in order to preserve their society.  As the story progresses the Pigs begin to break the commandments.  By the end of the book there is only one commandment left; rewritten by the Pig leader it reads, “All animals are equal, but some  animals are more equal than others.”

And this is why Animal Farm has been on my mind all week.  This whole health care bill and the process in which in was passed is infuriating for those of us who cherish our freedoms and our Constitution.  It’s common knowledge now that President Obama and his family as well as Congress members and their families do not fall under the mandates of the bill. So my question is this: If this new system is so wonderful and such an improvement, why don’t they want it, too?

Why are they creating laws that they don’t want to follow?  Why force us “common” citizens to have something that they don’t even want?

I know our country has a checkered past with equality when it comes to race, gender, creed and sexual orientation, which is sad on all accounts.  But do we need to now add yet another hang-up for inequality?  Are elected federal officials more equal than the rest of us?

Here’s my recommendation: Read.  Read as much history as you can before it’s revised.  And read books like Animal Farm, 1984, Lord of the Flies and Fahrenheit 451 before they’re taken off the shelves.

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