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Mocha Musings: Falling in line not always the safest response

The wildfire smoke has cleared up, and the cooler tinge in the air means autumn has arrived. The view of the surrounding hills is beautiful in the morning light as I walk down the street toward a nearby park. Before me, a small group of elementary children trots happily, their high-pitched voices bubbling with enthusiastic chatter.

As they reach the park, I hear the teacher’s voice admonish a young boy, “Don’t walk backwards! We walk forward here.” He turns around, chastised.

When they reached the grass a few minutes later, several children instinctively dash gleefully ahead. “In line, everyone!,” commands the teacher. “We walk in line at this school.” They stop in their tracks and form an obedient line. Off they march, two by two, across the wide swath of smooth lawn — designed for running, chasing frisbees, and flying kites — until they reach the sidewalk on the other side.

I was struck by this and wondered: at what point in our lives do we “fall obediently back into line” without even thinking about it? At what point does that most natural of all impulses — to run across a grassy lawn in joyful abandon — leave us? Of course, walking along a busy street where order and safety for children is an issue is something entirely different. But how many times during our formative years, and beyond, are we taught that conforming and obeying orders, whether they make sense or not, are what we “should” do as the default?

Order, of course, is the operative word here; it is much easier for those in charge to control people who obey orders. And the more “order” that is imposed, the more acquiescent we become over time — particularly if punishment or negative consequences are involved. To use the words I once overheard from a TSA agent, we “become compliant.” He said that as if it were a compliment, but I found it disturbing. Synonyms for “compliant” are: submissive, conform, acquiesce, and obedient — all of the things we are accused of not being if we dare speak our minds to those running the show.

And that brings me to why I am writing this. Once again, as has happened pretty much every day since election night, I awakened to yet another mind-numbing headline created by the person currently occupying the Oval Office of this great nation. This brouhaha involves the NFL with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named calling players — the citizens whom he represents — “sons of b*tches” for refusing to stand for the National Anthem. As any of my friends and family know, I am not the most knowledgeable about football or most “guy” sports, but I do know that players who, rightly, question the current tolerance of racism, white supremacy and police brutality in our country are courageous, and I applaud them.

As Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors stated, “By not going (to the White House), hopefully it will inspire some change for what we tolerate in this country and what we stand for, what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye toward.”

During the presidential campaign, I naively thought that the Republican party would eventually toss Mr. Trump as a candidate when his repugnant views and crass conduct became apparent, but they did not, and they still allow his views to represent them. The Republican Party, and all Americans who believe in a fair and just society and who recoil from this president’s ill-informed, ignorant, and repulsive language and views, need to stand up against him — and those enabling him — and take this country back.

Shouldn’t enough now be enough?

— Award-winning author, TV presenter and world traveler Susanne Severeid is an Ashland resident who enjoys making time for the important things in life — including mocha. Read more of her columns at bit.ly/adtssmm. For more, go to www.susannesevereid.com. Email her at susannewebsite@olypen.com.