Those who do not read are no better than those who cannot (OPINION)

Photo by Peter Mazurek

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Dallas Hyland is a columnist for St. George News and blogs as The Amateur Broad Thinker. The opinions stated in this article are solely his own and not those of St. George News.

Someone once told me leaders were readers. Someone else once told me the only difference between who I am today and who I would be in five years hinged largely upon what I read in that time. Mark Twain said those who do not read are no better off than those who cannot.

If you are getting the idea that I hold reading in pretty high regard you should also be getting the idea that I don’t think much of those who do not. And, just so we’re clear here, by reading, I mean more than just browsing the web in attention deficit fashion or flipping through the pages of a magazine.

Reading: The active engagement of the mind with the intent of learning, gathering, and disseminating information for the betterment of oneself and community. Sadly, I meet more people who avoid this than pursue it and it is pandemic in our culture.

Want an example?

The recent passing of the National Defense Authorization Act has been quite the buzz on the internet news circuit in the last couple of weeks.

There are two things to note here. First, the national media is all but avoiding the subject and this begs the question, “Why?”

Second, and more to my point, those who are covering it and sounding the alarm seem to be all but ill informed of the fact that the NDAA has been around a lot longer than just this year.

Instituted after World War II, the legislation has been amended and voted into law annually ever since.

What has garnered so much attention to this most recent version is the language contained within it allowing for the detainment of American citizens without due process of law.

How is it that people who are so enraged about this are the very people who do not even know the history of this legislation?

I will tell you how. I call them bandwagon activists. They have neither the time nor compunction to fully educate themselves on a subject; but, give them a little information and something that appears to be a credible link or a Youtube video and they are sounding the alarm while encouraging others to do the same. Sometimes they are on the right track but only by a little.

You see, I give credit where it is due.

I have said in other writings and to my colleagues that the silver lining in the dark cloud of the systematic dismantling of our middle class is that the middle class has at last woken up. Woken up to find itself burdened with a debt it cannot repay both personally and nationally. Woken up to find itself unable to even provide for itself even the most rudimentary needs. Woken up to find its once cherished civil liberties being removed at an alarming rate. Woken up to find it may be too late to reverse any of this.

And to be fair, there is much accountability (for the state we find ourselves in) to be levied upon those in power. But truly, the blame is ours.

You see, “of the people, by the people, for the people” is a principle which is only effective if utilized; we the people have become so apathetic that we have allowed legislation like the NDAA to remain in existence for more than 50 years.

It is here I assert that if the people had been doing diligence in exercising their liberties, we never would have let it get by for even one year.

Now what I am not doing here is laying out the details of this legislation. You need to do this for yourself. Believe me when I tell you it is as scary a bit of law as any we have seen in history in fascist, totalitarian regimes. I am hardly an expert on the subject but I have at least read it. Have you? And if not, may I ask why not?

Suppose I am right and the American people have woken up to an out of control government. Would I be too bold to assert perhaps it is the out of control actions of a government run amok that has done the waking? And, in the spirit of the 70 year anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, would I be too bold to reference the often misattributed quote of Admiral Yamamoto, “I fear we have only awakened a sleeping giant, and filled it with a terrible resolve.”?

I hope with all that is within me this is so. That while there remains a ballot box, there remains the power within the hands of the people of this great nation to take it back and return it to its once great and sovereign state.

I dedicate this article to the bravest generation this country has ever known that in the face of insurmountable odds held an impossible line with neither ambivalence nor complaint. If you know a veteran of this war, thank them. Then take up their torch of defending this great land from enemies foreign and domestic.

The passing of the NDAA and like legislation stands in direct opposition to the Constitution of our country and seeks to supersede it. As Americans, we cannot abide this for not only our sakes but those generations to come.

Read people. Get informed. Get involved.

See you out there.

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Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

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  • Kyle Wilson December 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I hold knowledge and truth in the highest esteem. But in a matter of defense… it is the six-figure paying full time job of some to read legislation, and even then some do not. With about 300 laws a year being created and some laws thousands of pages deep, I would venture to say that anyone claiming to be entirely informed probably also wears an aluminum foil hat to be so the aliens can’t read his thoughts. That being said, you’re absolutely right, due diligence is absolutely imperative for anyone claiming to have an opinion on a matter.

    p.s. if the ballot box itself actually made a difference, voting would probably be illegal.

  • Jen December 8, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I don’t know if the ballot box matters much when 93 of our senators voted for it and only 7 against; unless America is willing to vote out 93 and they are not because a lot of them agree with this bill because of their fear of terrorists.

    And if I may add one correction: They receive due process through a military tribunal eventually, which can take years and years and years …

  • Dallas Hyland December 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I make it a rule not to respond to comments on my articles as I think it inappropriate but in this case an explanation is warranted. My reference to “attention deficit” behavior was intended for what could aptly be described as surfing the net, or another version is perhaps channel surfing. The idea being that the time spent on any one subject is brief and less than thorough. It was not directed at anyone diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. I have ADD. I have nothing but empathy and understanding for those who do as well. I hope the point of the article was not lost on this.

  • Lindsey December 9, 2011 at 6:04 am

    “As Americans, we cannot abide this for not only our sakes, but of those generations to come.”

    Completely agree. There are many ways we can fight back against Congress’ attack on civil liberties. We can start by speaking out with a petition or at an event in your community. The Bill of Rights Defense Committee has arranged for people to do this ( But to sit idly by and wait for these politicians to throw our rights down the drain is completely unacceptable.

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