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Point of View: Sound Minds, Sound Bodies

Thu, 03/02/2023 - 09:41

If to be “woke” is to be awake, i.e., knowledgeable insofar as public affairs past and present go, I don’t know what the problem is. A well-informed citizenry is obviously to be desired in a democracy. How else can it survive as such?

Samuel Adams, according to his biographer, Stacy Schiff, believed that in order to survive, democracy required a virtuous electorate. “To have a villainous ruler [n.b.] imposed on you was a misfortune. To elect him yourself was a disgrace. . . . Self-government was in his view inseparable from governing the self.”

Just as human beings are subject to excesses, so too is the body politic. Perfectly natural. And just as individuals can improve, so too can a nation, though in order to improve — to continue in our case to form a more perfect union — its citizens must know its history, not be blind to it, as apparently the governor of Florida would prefer. Quiescence tends to corrupt and absolute quiescence corrupts absolutely.

So, what’s it to be? Torpor and dictators? Or an educated, enlivened, engaged populace debating — not pronouncing, but debating — how best to proceed?

Let’s hear it, then, for education, the broadest kind, for studious inquiry, for free speech, for contemplation, and for policies that contribute toward the greater good.

Enough preaching: Can you believe spring is in the wings and we’ve hardly been touched by winter until this week? A number of February’s days actually having been balmy, inclining one to get up and out rather than hunker down by a fire. There’s been no excuse to forgo exercise. Buckskill’s ice, strengthened by doubled chiller capacity, is said to be the best ever, they’ve been playing pickleball and futsal with fervor at the Sportime Arena in Amagansett and tennis with tenacity at the East Hampton Indoor Club in Wainscott. And now baseball and softball and lacrosse skills can be honed in the Hub 44 building behind Round Swamp Farm.

“Anima Sana in Corpore Sano,” as my sneakers say. Juvenal’s dictum was a favorite of John Locke’s, and it was Locke — and other thinkers of the late-17th century — whom Samuel Adams was reading before arguing in his Harvard master’s thesis that resistance to an oppressive king might be justified. And that’s where we came in.

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