I now have my guidance for 2024: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. My goal is to arrive at Wednesday, November 6, assured that Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason have been returned to the Kingdom of Wisdom. I want to know that the Demons populating the Mountains of Ignorance have been out-paced, out-voted and vanquished. At least for four more years.
The road to Election Tuesday passes through the land of Expectations and it will be essential to move out of there promptly. We may get stuck in The Doldrums, littered with do-nothing Lethargarians. Here all momentum grinds to a halt. We cannot pause in a place where no one pays attention and no one is allowed to think. The Foothills of Confusion will bring us to the Sea of Knowledge on which we cannot sail. We will certainly spend time in the realm where Words are at war with Numbers.
A brief hiatus at the Point of View may help us–some of us, at any rate–see things from a different angle. Sadly, however, the experience is unlikely to keep us from jumping to that rocky isle of Conclusions.
Pitfalls and Dangers
On the way through the Mountains of Ignorance, in search of Rhyme and Reason, we must avoid the Terrible Trivium, a “demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort and monster of habit.” Most dangerous of all is Senses Taker who hijacks all of the senses, not just sight, taste, hearing, touch and smell, but one’s sense of purpose, sense of duty, sense of proportion, everything, in fact but one’s sense of humor.
As we feel like success is within reach, danger is most acute. The Triple Demons of Compromise and the Horrible Hopping Hindsight feed to Overbearing Know-it-all. Even more terrifying are the Gorgons of Hate and Malice who collaborate in their evil with Gross Exaggeration whose sharp teeth only mangle the truth.
Then there is the Threadbare Excuse. The poor, sad, hapless Threadbare Excuse, trying to explain why, in the end, we might have failed.
As we struggle through politics increasingly complicated and difficult, we may become mired in mis- and disinformation, error, hostility, and hate. We need a roadmap, both literal and metaphorical, that might help us find our way. The alternative is the defeat of Wisdom by Ignorance, the triumph of disorder and dismay.
Our way will be impeded by the war between information and understanding. We will live in a world where demons emerge “from every cave and crevice, through every fissure and crack, from under the rocks and up from the mud, stomping and shuffling, slithering and sliding, through the murky shadows.” And these demons will have only one single goal: to protect Ignorance and in doing so, ensure their own absolute power.
All we have is the vote.
All we can do is remember that it is not about the ticket and it is all about the team. It is not just the White House that matters but the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Supremes, the Governors and the State Houses. The School Boards and the local Councils.
It’s all about our rights and our freedoms. If we don’t have them, we have nothing.