Originally Published April 12, 2007
I recently read an article about how couples who have been married a long time develop “shared memory.” The concept of shared memory is that topics that one member of the couple can’t easily remember or understand – becomes stored within the other half of the couple’s brain.
For example, I have a hard time remembering local roads or family names in our neighborhoods. Thus, I depend directly on Frank’s memory to remind me of the information whenever I need it. I know the information I need to access is stored in his mind, and not mine.
In turn, Frank depends on my memory to remind him of appointments, birthdays and due dates.
Sometimes, I feel that members of the community depend on me to remind them of information they should be storing–the details of legal ins and outs, the decisions made in past meetings, and the ways to research and access public records.
There are times when I feel some folks have gotten dependent on me storing the information, which, I feel, everyone should know and understand.
At first, I felt flattered that folks knew they could depend on me to maintain this information. I felt important to know that I knew something others needed to know.
After repeatedly giving the information, and realizing that no one seems to be moving the information from my storage area to his or her own storage area, it is beginning to feel like a burden.
Sure, as I have covered topics and news in the region, I have learned emergency escape routes, flood preparedness measures, proper meeting procedure, Sunshine Laws, and so many other things. I have not, however, kept this information to myself. I have shared the information with readers and interested people with whom I have spoken.
I have tried to share the knowledge I have with others. In other words, I thought I passed the ball.
The next thing you know, someone is asking me to repeat the information, or checks with me to make sure things are being done in an appropriate manner. I realize then that the ball is still in my hands.
All the background information I work with to cover events and meetings–the information I work with to write articles–is public information. The information is open to all the world, and not just me.
With the Internet, library, courthouse documents and all those in public service who are there to help, no one should ever be dependent on me to advise them in matters. No citizens should ever be dependent on anyone to make their decisions for them, dependent on others to know what’s best.
It is up to every resident and citizen to know public policy, for their own safety and for the welfare of their family and community. It is the responsibility of every person to be informed and knowledgeable of the issues that affect the well-being of the public.
If you have a question about courts, call the clerk for that court. If you have a question about government, check the state code books in the courthouse, or ask your elected officials. If you have a question about a specific topic, ask the librarian to direct you to information, or visit www.askjeeves.com on the Internet. If you have a legal question, call a lawyer.
Because I’m beginning to fill like my storage space is full.