Amoeba’s Lorica: The Shutdown, and Good Ol’ Charlie Brown

lucy_footballYour Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba is sure you’ve heard it. Loads of it. YFNA doesn’t venture far from his lorica – all those protistans in his care that need him to pay attention to them, not to the Internet – and he’s heard plenty of it. About all those turds in the U. S. Congress. How all the governmental gridlock, and now the shutdown, is their fault. Damn them! Why can’t they just do what We want?!?

Whatever that is …

Every year, for decades, at the beginning of football gridiron season in these Untied States, Charlie Brown, the creation of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz and “star” of the Peanuts strip, runs to kick a ball held by Lucy Van Pelt. And every year, he misses, spectacularly – because Lucy pulls up the ball at the last second.

Every year, for decades, the same thing happens. And every year, for decades, the same person, Lucy, is the guilty party. Right?

Now, count the number of times Charlie yells “Damn you, Lucy, this is your fault!” and stomps off.

No, YFNA can’t find any either.

Charlie, YFNA argues – and by extension, his creator Schulz – understood where the fault, should it be necessary to assign any, really rests. With the guy in the mirror. Charlie could have refused to try – and on several occasions, he threatened to do so, only to have Lucy talk him out of it. He could have had, say, Schroeder hold the ball. Schroeder was Charlie’s catcher, after all. If Charlie could trust anyone to hold the ball in a game, it would have to be Schroeder. The decision to reject the evidence, to not consider alternatives, was not Lucy’s. It was Charlie’s. And Charlie knew it.

Besides. What point to flipping Lucy off? She was going to be in the next strip, and the next, and the next … and then what would Charlie do?

Charlie, so far as YFNA knows, has never gotten to kick that ball. The minute he does, the gag is over, and the gag is too much a part of the strip for Schulz to have risked sacrificing it at any point during his lifetime, during the 50-year lifetime of Peanuts.

We the People are (YFNA hopes) not running a comic strip. We have the option, the responsibility even, to fire Lucy and have Schroeder hold the ball. But We first must recognize who it is that must make the choice. It is Us.

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