Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877


By Gordon Forgey

Temperance Day


January 17, 2019

Washington state celebrated Temperance and Good Citizenship Day on January 16. It has been a long standing requirement for schools to observe.

The day was initiated in 1923. Ostensively, it was to push prohibition and avoidance of alcohol. That purpose was dashed with the repeal of prohibition, although moderation in drink was still a goal.

Now, this day has a different significance.

Temperance is not just about alcohol.

Defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, temperance is:

1-moderation in action, thought, or feeling

2a-habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions

b-moderation in or abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages

The first definition has real application to Good Citizenship Day.

We could use more moderation and restraint in our public conversations. They are sadly lacking in today’s political world.

The political parties are out for a kill. They are willing to sacrifice good, honest government for a political victory. The cost of such a victory is of no import to them, as long as they do not have to pay it themselves.

Right now, that cost is burdening hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay because of the federal shutdown. Albeit a partial shutdown, reports of increasing and widening negative impacts from it are spreading.

The shutdown, of course, is a result of policy differences, but the impasse between the Democrats and the Republicans just may be a matter of ego. Neither President Donald Trump nor Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is willing to give an inch. Thus, the shutdown continues.

A little moderation and a little restraint could solve the standoff.

The curriculum for the day includes details on citizenship and voting. Students, 16 and 17, are able to register to vote as part of the future voters program. Guidelines for the observance are provided to schools by the state.

Regardless that the day has passed, its very idea is an opportunity for students as well as adults to contemplate how our system of government works and what can most disrupt its efficiency in serving all citizens. We have seen and continue to see how blatant and disruptive over zealous partisanship can bring the nation to a standstill.

It is ridiculous that party enmity can so threaten the very fabric of the country.

Temperance and good citizenship are basics of good government.

It is something kids in school and adults should appreciate. It is something that elected politicians must realize . . . and practice.


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