The Danger of Doing Nothing: The Ostrich’s Head in the Sand


October 26, 2019 by epoetus



Doing nothing in our current political climate is like saying you’re not a racist (see previous post on 9/16/2019 “We Must Become More Than Antiracists” linked below), but not actively engaging in anti-racist policy making and social change. Doing nothing is letting the prevailing powers that be continue to operate as they are, which is to say that you are allowing the perpetuation of the rise of income and wealth inequality and the demise of democracy. This is not an accusation to the reader. It is just a wake up call to everyone that our society must do more right now.



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We could say that we’re libertarian and act as though it justifies doing nothing, as government is already too big, but do we really know what that even means? The Kochs poured tons of money into libertarian causes, and may still do, before they discovered their genius political cause “The Tea Party.” The libertarian notion of minimizing or eliminating the government is really the mantra of the rich and large corporations who want nothing more than a world where “Might Makes Right” and those with the most money rule the world. Democracy was mothered out of the necessity to stop royalty, and the rich oligarchs of the world from continuing to do stupid things that randomly exploit and kill innocent people – democratic government is essential to maintaining a stable, diverse, equal, happy and just society.

This article intends to encourage everyone to do something, and it may not have to be a lot but it does need to be more, to change the political dynamic in this country. We used to refer to this as our “civic duty” as citizens and residents of this planet called Earth but for the most part that has been eliminated as a course of study in our public school systems and therefore our public discourse.


Getting back to the ostrich reference…

Do they really put their heads in the sand? If so, then why in the world would they possibly do that?

No, they do not bury their heads in the sand (see San Diego Zoo link below). The myth seems to be tied to one of a few possibilities:
• They have a defensive strategy which involves them laying on the ground and putting their heads flat on the ground, which looks like their heads disappeared into the sand
• They also will be seen eating from a distance which looks as though their heads are in the ground
• Apparently they will cover their eggs when nesting, and when they adjust the eggs it looks like their heads are in the sand
This is a terribly vicious rumor – fake news? – which has been perpetuated for far too long. We have anthropomorphized a falsehood that maligns a very noble, and beautiful bird. Maybe now we can stop this myth and replace it with something else? How about “Don’t be a ‘Climate Denier?’”






Returning to the role of government, our civic duty and democracy

Our government is supposed to enact the will of the people into laws, processes, agencies, infrastructure, services, policy, enforcement, democracy, justice, and so on. Can we say that our government is fulfilling that commitment? Can we say that it is moving closer to this realization?

If it isn’t nothing, then what do we do? The following by Fran Leibowitz comes to mind:

“Think before you speak.
Read before you think.”

That advice empowers us to tell our own story, which is hopefully one that is based in critical reasoning. It also empowers us to listen, and use that critical reasoning to question what we’re hearing. Certainly freedom of expression and access to verifiable information is essential in a democracy. Since we have entered an Orwellian world where information itself is manipulated into messages that reinforce a political agenda, and we are barraged with it constantly, it is even more important that we turn to each other for the antidote.

As George Lakoff has so eloquently expressed to us, we are actually physical beings who are *defined* by what we hear more than we want to believe, so the barrages of disinformation actually impact us. For those who have seen the NetFlix documentary on the Rajneeshies called “Wild, Wild Country” this brainwashing and indoctrination process is demonstrated perfectly. To address this, we must undo the negative effects of disinformation by engaging in critical reasoning exercises, or we will become more of a ‘Climate Denier’ than we want. Call it a ‘use it or lose it’ perspective on your political mind and civic duty.

Certainly we can go on about democracy voting, getting out in the streets, protesting, boycotting and all that. But in a way it all starts with reading, thinking and finally speaking.



“Our only truth is narrative truth, the stories we tell each other, and ourselves—the stories we continually recategorize and refine. Such subjectivity is built into the very nature of memory. The wonder is that aberrations of a gross sort are relatively rare, and that, for the most part, our memories are so solid and reliable….”
Oliver Sacks, “The River of Consciousness,” 2017





We Must Become More Than Antiracists

Ostriches and burying their head in the sand

2 thoughts on “The Danger of Doing Nothing: The Ostrich’s Head in the Sand

  1. Jai Boreen says:

    Another good one. Likin’ your links….


    • epoetus says:

      Thank you! Please feel free to share your thoughts and links to this site however you can — FB, email. Let’s grow the readership to this site.


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