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A Guardian for Good, If You Can Keep It

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Ben Franklin

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Ben Franklin

by Anthony Noel
Guardian columnist

Paraphrased above is a warning from one of our nation’s greatest thinkers (and kite fliers), Ben “Lightning Rod” Franklin. A passerby, seeing ol’ Ben emerge from Philadelphia’s Independence Hall after the 1787 deliberations which produced our Constitution, asked which had resulted: a monarchy or a republic.

Franklin’s renowned answer, “A republic, if you can keep it,” foreshadowed the ebb and flow of the intervening 228 years. The various ideological currents wrestling to interpret the document Franklin and company produced (in secret, interestingly) are turbulent as ever. For proof, just look at the major cases already decided and those awaiting rulings in the latest session of the United States Supreme Court.

(The New York Times provides a great synopsis of the session’s key cases here. Bookmark that page – it’s updated as decisions come down.)

Franklin’s admonition has retained its gravity not despite, but because of the extremes to which various forces, struggling daily to bend the Constitution to fit their ends, are willing to go.

Gun advocates can scream all they like about constitutional protection of arms ownership, and lord knows they do. Nonetheless, I find it amazing that any reasonable person can read the Second Amendment and claim, serious as a heart attack, that it applies to anything but members of a well (meaning government) -regulated militia. Similarly, gun advocates are surely amazed at my craziness for thinking they’re the ones misinterpreting Amendment Deux.

I – and they – are really no different than any citizen with even a passing interest in whatever happens to be the issue at hand. Each of us can pick any major case before the Court and reach an unerring decision in about 27 seconds, right? Of course! But when we tally where everyone actually stands, about half of us will inevitably support one side, and half the other. Which is why we need courts in the first place.

Guardian contributors shared with readers some of our favorite books as 2014 became 2015. Mine, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (Colin Woodard), is perhaps the clearest explanation I’ve yet seen for the culturally based ideological differences our courts still, 200-plus years in, are so often called upon to settle. I recommend the book here once more to anyone interested in understanding the endemic forces influencing our national, regional and local disputes, as our “one nation” continues twisting itself, pretzel-like, in attempts to actually function as the melting pot we lie to the rest of the world about having become.

But beyond the diverse cultural influences among Woodard’s “nations,” there’s another factor at work. It is inorganic, insidious – and it is abroad in Eastern North Carolina just as surely as it exists in every other county, city and state in our so-called nation.

It is, put simply, Evil.

If you doubt its existence, you’ve never sat in a meeting, held ostensibly for transacting business, public or corporate, while attuned to the subtexts (at best) and subversions (worst) subtly playing out. Try it sometime. When you do, you will, in mere moments, recognize how some participants, be they elected bullies or appointed mawworms, propone righteous rectitude even as their words prove that their inventories of such traits are non-existent.

Evil of this sort – vengeful, hateful, and always (outwardly) holier than thou – is everywhere, all the time, but becomes most obvious when those who dare to put the common good above the interests of would-be patriarchs seem poised to win. Even then such evil, replete with immorality and sometimes outright criminality, is too rarely exposed.

Evil of this sort exists right here. It resides in parochial forces who don’t want their actions – let alone their motives – questioned. The lengths to which they are willing to go and have already gone in preventing such inquiry define Evil itself.

Evil that will be exposed in the Guardian. 

If you can keep it.

Between now and June 30th, the Greenville Guardian needs 50 readers to become “Guardian Angels.” Your commitment of $12 per month for one year will help assure our survival. Click here to take a stand for good in Eastern North Carolina.

Responses (4)

  1. robin hensel says:

    Spot on Anthony. Evil (selfishness) is the root of every problem, anywhere.

  2. Steve Smiley says:

    “There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.” Maya Angelou

    • Anthony Noel says:

      If the Angelou quote is an attempt at painting me as young, you once again have my eternal thanks, Steve. The “young” train left my station a long time ago!

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