Mandatory masks, critical race theory, eviction moratoriums, and the states’ Roe v. Wade reversals were recently presented before those in positions of power. These are just four of the many decisions local, state, and national leaders made in 2021 and will make in 2022.
All these decisions affect us locally. None of them are easy. Heavy is the mantle of power.
Recently our school superintendent suffered racial epithets at a school board meeting. Not only is the color of his skin irrelevant to the running of a school district, but it also makes the decisions he and the board have to make even more difficult.
So many parents are coming to the school board meetings that they are now held in the high school auditorium. Some of the more vocal parents are protesting the requirement of mandatory masks, even though it is a state decision, and the consequences of disobeying the governor’s mandate could result in the potential loss of $41 million in state support.
What school board or superintendent wants to make the decision to reject a state mandate in order to please irate parents who feel their rights are endangered and ignore the fact that funding for their children’s education is at stake? How could any school board and superintendent order social studies teachers to not talk about the systemic racism found in our Constitution? The issue of teaching Critical Race Theory has become a hot button in the schools, even though it is a college level theory. The “theory” is not taught in our schools, but American history is.
Systemic racism is found in the 3/5 Compromise, where national representation in the House of Representatives was based upon the entire population of a state including slaves, but slaves were only counted as 3/5 of a person and had no protections under the Constitution.
What about the issue of race that was the major cause of the Civil War? Or discrimination against Chinese, Mexicans, and Japanese? To forbid teachers to discuss the facts of history destroys the purpose of teaching history and turns it into propaganda.
In terms of eviction moratoriums, there was a great deal of concern about some renters avoiding the responsibility of paying their rents, putting the burden on the taxpayers. This is true. Some renters gamed the system. The governor had to make decisions to keep the numbers of homeless from multiplying while at the same time knowing that businesses would be irate at the government controls that seemed to target them.
But isn’t it more important that the nation and the states avoid another Great Depression in the process? There’s the short-term view and the bigger picture that must always be considered. How do billions of dollars lost due to corruption compare to the suffering engendered by massive unemployment? How can any governmental leader deal with these weighty decisions knowing the blowback of any decision they make?
Perhaps the hottest issue right now is whether the Roe v. Wade decision will be overturned by a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court. Many Republican controlled states have passed anti-abortion laws designed to end Roe v. Wade in America. The media on both sides are stirring up emotions.
Put yourself in the position of those nine justices who must be feeling a great deal of pressure as media commentators predict how the court will decide. Would you want to feel that pressure? It’s guaranteed that whatever the decision, millions will be angry. The nation will become even more divided as anger flares. Would you want to further divide our nation just to win a political/philosophical battle?
Every Supreme Court justice knows that their decisions will be remembered and published for the rest of our history. It’s important for all citizens, voters, and parents to consider the burden of those bearing the mantle of responsibility.
Every elected official knows the next election is not that far away. Any missteps and poorly thought-out words could signal their defeat.
Remember this anonymous reflection on decision-making: “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”