Know Your Place



I am drinking my morning cup of covfefe and reading/watching the fake news. A memory popped into my head, and I’m going to share it with you. Pretty sure it’s a real memory.

When I was in my early twenties, I had occasion to be on a beach at night on one of the keys sprinkled along the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa/St. Pete. As a Philadelphia kid, I had never seen bioluminescence.  The beaches near Philadelphia don’t interact much with swimmers. Here on the Gulf, I was captivated. And I hadn’t seen Jaws.  

Swimming at night was a thing way back then. It wasn’t unusual for a group of us on the beach at night to coeducationally disrobe and wade into the water, but the water where we were did not start shining in streaks of electric green and blue.

I was alone on this Gulf beach this particular night and waded in. I knew better than to swim alone in open water at night, but here the water was about knee-deep for hundreds of yards. I was mesmerized by the trails of bio-luminescence swirling behind me as I waded farther out, and I started making long streaks through the water with my hands and fingers. 

I stopped splashing to look up at the stars for a moment, and then I heard it. Someone else was in the water with me, but I wasn’t hearing a splashing sound. It was more like the sound of a sailboat cutting through the water. Shhh-shhhh-shhh. Zigzags of glowing water looked like a lateral lightning bolt in the water. And then I saw the fin. 

Remarkably, I had the presence of mind to wonder could that be a shark. And I realized it was getting closer quickly. I backed up a few steps, then turned and ran out of the water. I sat on the beach and watched the fin cruise back and forth for a few minutes before veering back out into the dark unfathomable expanse of the Gulf of Mexico.

I tell you this story to demonstrate that even relatively intelligent people can be so blinkered as to not recognize danger signals when they see them. 

During this moment in American political life, many US citizens seem unaware or indifferent to the danger facing the nation. They believe nothing they do will change anything. They have fallen into the poison of cynicism.

When a president acts like the country works for him instead of the other way around, we’ve got trouble. It’s an indication that the officeholder no longer has the intellectual humility to perform his duties. The president is an employee of the American people, hired by the voters. Don’t let your representatives forget they work for you. It helps keep them out of trouble. 

Author: Craig Butcher

Craig Butcher is an award-winning educator who has taught critical thinking skills for more than two decades. In addition, he has worked on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer and has been a top-rated broadcaster.