I have had a lot of dental work over the years. The worst was having surgery on both jaws to allow my front teeth to meet. Prior to the surgery, I had never bitten my tongue due to the gap between my upper and lower teeth. Since I was a pseudo-medical student at the time, I asked the surgeon if I could stand in on a procedure on another patient so I could get an idea of what was involved. He replied, "If you saw what happens during the surgery, you would most likely change your mind about going through with it." Apparently, the procedure involved pulling my face off and other gruesome activities. I didn't watch and went ahead with the surgery with no problems.
There are many details we are better off not knowing. How hot dogs are made is one that comes to mind. I don't know and don't want to know because I love hot dogs and don't want the truth ruining my hot dog-eating experience. The advent of Google and internet searches make it harder to avoid seeing such truths, though. The lure of actually finding out what goes on behind the scenes is too tempting for many. They end up regretting finding the truth because it led to a miserable hot dog-free life.
I believe the same applies to politics. One can become a politician with the sincerest of desires to correct wrongs, rid the world of evil, and bring prosperity to all. Once there, however; they find that most issues are murky shades of grey, not black and white. They must make decisions that will never please everyone. They will be misunderstood because the electorate will not know, and may not want to know, what is actually at stake. I am sure that more than one elected official was surprised to find out that governing at the highest level was not as easy as once thought. We the people clamor for full disclosure and transparency. Are we sure we really want to know? Just as you can't remove the memory of seeing your aged aunt in her underwear, you also cannot "unknow" facts that shake you to your core. The English poet Thomas Gray stated, "Where ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise."
In this age of easily accessible information, we have all become "experts" on any number of topics. But realize as well that this is also the age of fake news, internet trolls, and social media bots programmed to sway opinion. What you think you know may not be the truth but lies wrapped in a layer of hubris designed to appeal to your baser instincts, not your intellect.
When I need a doctor for a serious medical issue I don't ask them to state their religion or views on immigration. I ask questions concerning their qualifications. The last person I want operating on me is someone who brags that their business experience qualifies them to do surgery on me. I can watch all the videos on Youtube about electrical repair, but that doesn't qualify me to wire up your new house.
In the same way, if we want people to solve problems that face our nation and world, then perhaps we should look for those who have real experience and knowledge in these matters. People who started at the lower levels of governing and put in the hard work of learning how to deal with difficult issues. People who know how to maintain a demeanor of calm in the middle of a crisis speak carefully and can tolerate working with people they don't like personally.
The chaos that permeates the Trump presidency is increasing. Many of us gave a pass to Trump for the first few months because he was supposed to be learning. Little evidence exists that he has learned anything. The idea of electing someone with no previous political experience to the highest office in the land now seems like pure folly. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to denigrate the term "politician." Enough decent folk out there wear the term proudly and are doing better than average at governing. Even if they can't tell us everything, perhaps it is for our own good. Maybe the essence of trust is knowing enough about our leaders to allow them to protect us from ourselves.
-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
Editorial on 03/07/2018
Print Headline: Do you really want to know?