Editorial: Lack of civics knowledge has driven me to suffer from anxiety and stress

Editorial: Lack of civics knowledge has driven me to suffer from anxiety and stress

Image: Selfie of the Publisher taken June 22, 2019.

Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer

I’m anxious. I’m stressed out. I can’t help but eat large quantities of ice cream (any flavor except for Neapolitan or Macadamia Nut, because they’re gross), Kraft Cheese and Macaroni, and other forms of high-intensity carbohydrates.

I’m the victim.

Here’s how it happened. I can point to three incidents, which set me off. But before I tell you about those terrible incidents (and try to make you feel very sorry for me), I want to tell you three other things.

First, today is Sunday. I’m headed to church this morning where my Pastor, a Scriptural Conservative, will give a sermon about one of the Ten Commandments. Specifically, he’ll tell us about “Honor Thy Father and Mother.” Several years ago, I spoke with an elected servant in Harris County who told me that, on his first day in public office, he met with all of the employees of his department in an auditorium. He told them, “The Scriptures teach us to honor our father and mother. The philosophy of our Founding Fathers teaches us to honor our true bosses, the citizens, who are our customers and our bosses both.” That elected servant took his County Department from one of the worst and turned it almost overnight into one of the truly exemplary County Departments in all of Texas.

“The Scriptures teach us to honor our father and mother. The philosophy of our Founding Fathers teaches us to honor our true bosses, the citizens, who are our customers and our bosses both.” – Harris County elected servant.

Second, when I was a teenager, I worked for a big company. For some reason, they decided, based upon my personality, to make me a collections agent. I was the low man on the totem pole. There were thousands of employees between me and the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and many layers of managers and supervisors. Nevertheless, when I saw the President in our Department, I followed his direction. I treated him like he was my boss. I knew that he was the boss of the boss of the boss of the boss…of my boss.

Third, a couple of weeks ago, I was speaking with a friend whose name often appears in this newspaper. She and I were joking around about something and we started talking about Masonic Lodges. I told her that the head man in a Masonic Lodge is called the “Worshipful Master.” She got a big laugh out of that. The title is important, however. The Master of a Masonic Lodge is not the “Worshipped Master.” Masons worship God. As a matter of duty, the Master of the Lodge worships God and he also has a duty to treat the members of the Lodge over whom he is the Master as individuals for whom he is responsible. Similarly, we sometimes refer to elected servants or public officials as “Honorable Mark Keough.” When we do so, at least speaking for myself, I’m not “honoring” that person. Rather, I’m referring to the fact that he should honor the citizens by acting with honor. He’s not “Honored Mark Keough.” Rather, like the Master of the Lodge, he’s someone whom I expect to act with honor as an example to those around him.

With those preliminaries, here are the incidents which stressed me out.

Incident #1: Discussion with an elected servant

This past Tuesday evening I had a discussion with an elected servant. I won’t mention his name. He and I were discussing an issue where he had voted terribly even though I had asked him to act differently.

I said to him, “I’m a citizen. I have the right to tell you how you should vote as an elected servant.”

He responded, “No, you have no right to do that at all. I can vote however I want.”

“No, you have no right to do that at all. I can vote however I want.” – – Elected servant who doesn’t understand the American system of government

Incident #2: Discussion with highly-paid employee of elected servant

This past Tuesday evening I had another discussion with someone who works for the Montgomery County government. This person receives over $103,000 per year in County salary, plus benefits in the range of $41,200 per year.

He told me, “I don’t work for you. I work for the government.”

I responded, “Aren’t you a County public official?”

He said, “No. I don’t work for you.”

I mouthed off, “Then you better go read the Texas Local Government Code, because Texas law seems to disagree with you.”

“I don’t work for you. I work for the government.” – – Montgomery County government official who doesn’t understand the American system of government

Incident #3: Colloquy on social media on Wednesday with Conroe ISD teacher

This past Wednesday, a lady named Kelli Cook made a comment on social media about Senate Bill 11, which Governor Greg Abbott just signed into law: “Public school teachers better think twice before mental healthing my kids. I don’t accept government teaching social emotional learning. That’s creepy, and parents should be outraged at such brain washing techniques that have nothing to do with academics.”

In response, the Conroe ISD teacher wrote, “Mental healthing? That’s stupid. Obviously this person doesn’t know much about education…and teachers are not government employees.”

I then intervened to ask, “You seriously think teachers are not government employees?!”

The Conroe ISD teacher responded, “I think teachers are so far removed from any actual government office, that it’s a stretch to call us government employees. I don’t work for the government. I work for a school.”

“I think teachers are so far removed from any actual government office, that it’s a stretch to call us government employees. I don’t work for the government. I work for a school.” – Conroe ISD teacher who doesn’t understand what the word “public” in “public education” means and who doesn’t understand the American system of government

Does that teacher believe that the money for her paycheck comes from a stork dropping money out of the sky??!

Stress and anti-stress

It was very painful for me to share those experiences with you. I’m sure I’ll have nightmares about this therapy session in addition to the incidents.

Nevertheless, after hearing about the pain I’m experiencing, a friend of mine called me yesterday afternoon to try to counsel me away from throwing more pizzas on the roof of our garage or from blowing up Diet Coke bottles by putting packages of Mentos in them.

My friend reminded me about another incident which occurred on September 13, 2018, at a little hotel in Spring. We were both at a small dinner with about 45 people. There were a few District Judges there, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a couple of State Senators, and three or four State Representatives in the dinner crowd. The Master of Ceremonies asked each person to get up and speak briefly.

I, of course, was very shy and didn’t want to speak. Nevertheless, the lady sitting next to me and some guy named James Dickey sitting on the other side of me pushed me to stand up.

So I said, “My name is so and so. I am at the top of the organizational chart of government. That’s because I’m a private citizen.”

As I introduced myself, Lieutenant Governor Patrick gave me a thumbs up. About five minutes later, State Representative Briscoe Cain, Republican of Deer Park, got up and introduced himself: “I’m Briscoe Cain, a State Representative from Deer Park. I’m not as high up in government as Mr. Yollick is, but I’m happy with my job anyway.”

In other words, there actually are some people involved in government who understand where public employees and elected servants fit within American Constitutionalism.

When you walk into a government office, the employee should treat you as though you are both the customer and the boss, just like I treated the President of the big company where I worked as a teenager. You may not be the direct supervisor of that government employee, because you may be several levels up the organizational chart above them.

You’re always at the top. Please remember that and help me recover.

 

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