discomfort (2006-13)

We’re Leading the Enlightened!

Tennessee’s newfound respect for the living

by Steve Dupree

Imagine my prideful surprise at Tennessee’s new leadership role. Sadly, I’d become somewhat cynical about the social attitudes of my home state. I’d grown somewhat used to the idea that my fellow citizens will support ill-considered and intellectually unqualified candidates for national office on the flimsiest claims of religious belief or adherence to disproved economic theories. It no longer surprised me when my triple-star state cohorts latch onto every (doomed to failure) passing attempt to legislate morality. The fact that we all but encourage smoking and obesity caused me nary a raised eyebrow.

So now I find out that we are on the leading edge of what has taken far too long to become a national cause celebre. Admittedly I, and several others I know, took this position on the issue long ago. The feelings on the issue are not now, and have never been, unanimous. Still, to go from being in the distinct minority to an overwhelming majority is quite remarkable.

Now, I hear you thinking out there, trying to figure out just what is this issue that we are seeing such a remarkable turnaround on. Well, I certainly won’t keep you in suspense. War. I like to think that it is specifically the Iraq war, but as near as I can tell, it is war in general. That’s right, lil’ ole No. 16 is leading the way. We finally and officially stand prepared to declare our adherence to one of the primary edicts of The Prince of Peace. We will no longer cheer the wholesale slaughter of humans at the behest of our national government.

Unless, I have it all wrong. Perhaps I misunderstood, and it is the somewhat misnamed “death penalty” that we are now disavowing. Yeah, maybe that’s it. We will no longer engage in the barbaric practices that have reputedly resulted in the execution of the innocent, the mentally deficient, and those whose primary crime is the inability to afford adequate legal representation.

While nothing could possibly make up for multiple years of being falsely incarcerated, at least we will no longer have to worry about being unable to undo the ultimate mistake. While war is certainly a worthy issue for us to lead the way in rejecting, the death penalty has its own set of injustices and aspects that run negative for society in general.

Getting the government out of the business of killing its own citizens just seems like a good thing to me. Unless, I have it all wrong. Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t war or the death penalty. Maybe we have finally come to our senses and decided to take steps to reduce the count that is our national shame.

Fifty thousand largely preventable automotive deaths a year, like some particularly perverse clockwork, is getting more and more difficult to justify. Someone must surely have noticed the number of children who are a part of that obscene number. Perhaps our local parents have decided that their children would benefit from their continued existence on this mortal coil, so they will eschew suburbia. They will take whatever steps are necessary to reduce the number of miles they drive. They will seek to ensure that their children do not have to get into a car for every single thing that they either want or need to do.

Surely that’s is it; our state’s citizens have finally chosen to love their families and to love their environment and to demonstrate that love by reducing the danger to them that is presented by the automobile and the lifestyle that requires ever increasing use of it. We shall doubtless be the toast of the nation when that greater grouping realizes the logic and reason in what we have done.

You know, all of those things are good. All of those things represent an increase in the overall IQ of the population. To choose them would likely require an increased level of spirituality and/or a hike in our cognizance of the deteriorating condition of the environment that makes human life possible and enjoyable. So perhaps it is all those things.

Yes, that must be it, our Legislature and judiciary have chosen to endorse a broad-based movement of choosing what is best for present and future humanity in general rather than what is just likely to make the individual feel good right now. Such a movement will be the model for the world. That has to be what the license tag means.

Why, I might just be the first on my block to get one of the CHOOSE LIFE plates for my car.