BE INFORMED! CHOICES MATTER!

By Milan Vodicka, Ph.D.

According to many spiritual traditions, the three vices of life are greed, hate, and ignorance. Those three, of course, come in many shades and variations. In this writing, I will concentrate on ignorance. I think it is imperative to counter it by being informed, truly informed. It is an important message for this time, when we shall be stepping into a voting booth to give a voice to values we support.

There are choices in life. For example, anytime you will pull out a dollar from your pocket to spend, you are making a choice to support or not support whomever will or will not receive this dollar. Naturally, and in aggregate, the receiving entities will strive and prosper, while the non-receiving ones will wither away.

Let me demonstrate the concept of the informed versus less informed approach through the case of a local – very local – restaurant, Northridge Inn in Nevada City. I was fortunate to chat about it – well, getting informed – with a twelve year veteran employee, Kristy Nash. She manages daily operations there.

Here is what I learned. This restaurant does not stand alone – it is intimately connected to and with our local community, especially with families. Kids are welcome; they find a special space just for them, the TV is always watchable – no violence, even violent sports (like boxing) are not allowed. The restaurant sponsors monthly fundraisers for non-profit organizations or schools.

The upcoming month, April, is designated to be Customer Appreciation Month. It means more than just festive ribbons pinned to the ceiling – four different schools, one each week, will receive a portion of sales that week or evening dedicated to that particular school. “Dollars directly to the community, rather than to advertising,” to quote Kristy.

I feel compelled to point out yet another aspect of the place. Simply, kindness. The employees, as I know them, manifest the embodiment of “personal relationships with customers are important to us doing well, as a business.” Even among themselves, it is “family together.” This includes the owner, who is described as “kind and smart.”

Couple this with a wide variety of food offerings accommodating a diversity of tastes, with a consistent quality, and with reasonable prices.

Do those values resonate with me, contrasted to, let’s say, to those of national chains such as McDonald’s? Yes, they do. Is it an informed decision? I sure hope so. As a consequence, I shall vote with my dollars accordingly.

How about the actual voting? Ignorance can manifest itself in irrational believes, fostered by repetition. “A hundred times repeated lie becomes the truth” is a famous statement of the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Another word for this mechanism is “indoctrination.”

I recently rented from the Nevada City Library a set of DVDs, produced by the History Channel, titled “Third Reich.” The first sentence of the narrative shocked me: “This documentary is not about how Adolf Hitler usurped power from German people, it is about how German people gave it to him.” Fast forward to today – the lessons are unmistakable. It is us – and no one else is to blame – who enable our “reality,” among other factors, by our ignorance. If you will have a chance, go to the library, borrow this work, and see for yourself.

We are choosing restaurants and we are choosing candidates to vote for. Candidates for all kinds of positions, local and national, many of them totally non-partisan – such as the County Clerk. In order to make the best choices, we should be informed. To be informed means to rely on sources that are verifiably trustworthy. Consider the League of Women Voters, Educational Forums, and open local meetings. We need to find and use reliable information.

Needless to say, this is even more important in these times of “fake news,” propaganda, dis-information, and outright lies. Indeed, we are making choices that matter – whether it is through the dollars we spend or pen-made marks on our voting ballots.

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