When will be stop opening all these cans of worms?

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Most everyone knows what it means to “open a can of worms.” It means that sometimes we do something that is seemingly innocent. We like to solve our problems. But, sometimes, solving one problem leads to an array of other problems that may have been unexpected. That’s when it might be said we have opened a can of worms.

Did you know that there were actual cans of worms? I never bought a can of worms, but read that in our history there were real cans of worms that were sold to fishermen.

Being a farm boy, all I had to do was go out to the barnyard and find an old wooden plank or sheet of tin that had covered some of the damp dirt of the barnyard. Lift the plank or the sheet of tin and, underneath, there would be a variety of wiggling worms. Some were what we called red wigglers and others might be longer and larger pond worms. Just pick them up and put them in your container, which probably was some sort of kitchen can.

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I never saw a can of worms for sale, but I’ll take the word of the website that said they were for sale in the 1950’s. The saying “open a can of worms” is easy to understand. One would open the can with a can-opener and, if it happened to be knocked over, out would come a bevy of crawling and scattering worms. Not a good thing.

Transferring the actual opening of a real can of worms to our current actions is another easy thing to do. Both individuals and governments are very prone to opening cans of worms. Governments may have good intentions with their laws, but sometimes don’t think through all the unintended consequences. Same with individuals.

For instance, we may see things that we want, but cannot afford. Someone suggests credit. It will be just a one-time thing and each month we will pay an amount that will take care of that something that we wanted, but really couldn’t afford. The can of worms opened for the individual is burdensome credit cards; for the government, it is 19 trillion dollars of debt. Can of worms.

Long ago, it was thought to be a good thing (and it was) to help those who were experiencing a temporary bit of misfortune. Just simply help for a few months and that would be a good thing. Little did we know that helping for a few months would turn into what is now a lifetime of expected support. Can of worms.

A young child begs for a cell phone or tablet computer so a game or two might be enjoyed. “Everybody else has them” he says to momma. We don’t want to deprive our children and what harm would a cell phone do? Can of worms.

Forever, in our public places, we have recognized the physical differences between men and women and we decided that it would be best for men to use a different restroom from women. That is simple and logical and we have not questioned the validity of that decision. Until now.

Today some want to change that situation. How many want to change it and for what percentage of the population? I don’t know how many want to change it, but the percentage of those for whom it is to be changed is less than one percent.

One of the presidential candidates asked, “Have we lost our minds?” “Yes,” I answer. When are we going to stop opening all these cans of worms?