2/28/18 Political Commentary. Why?

I am burning up to write political commentary. I am not satisfied with a lot of things.

I am resisting the urge successfully, so far. Politics is about life. We are all political beings. Not all of us need to comment on it, though. Perhaps it’s best if some of us don’t. And, even if it’s not best, others may find our reticence refreshing.

If we choose to write about politics, we must write or comment to inform or persuade, not just to be obstreperous. There are many at it that are better than me, so for now I’ll leave it to them. It precludes a lot of topics from my blog, but perhaps saves me some friends along the way. Some of the friends I might lose, though, are perhaps not worth having in the first place. I’ve never lost a true friend over politics. Or religion. I may have lost a few whose biases I failed to confirm, but I am not the one you should seek out to confirm your biases. I may be the last person you need for that.

It has occurred to me, since I stopped watching TV entirely, choosing to read my news, that I am not as nearly well-informed as I once was. There are names that are familiar to me, but I can not tell you who they are, or what they do, or what their political leanings are. Perhaps this is because a new cogent generation has come up for their turn at bat and my demographic is waning. It seems to be so in many arenas. Many in congress are in danger of losing their leadership positions by the up and coming players. This is as it should be.

I may not always like the direction things are taking, but older generations never embrace change as easily. I am still able to recognize the inevitability of change, but am less willing to adapt myself to it as I once was. We get set in our ways. While some may view that as a criticism, it sounds less threatening when we say that as we grow older we begin know our own minds. It is a good thing to know one’s own mind. It is important though, to keep learning new things. A permanently fixed mind is not expanding; it may be contracting. I’ll take expansion.

I’ve learned a lot in the past few years, having invested time in new books, or rather I should say books new to me, as I am still working my way through hundreds of books found for free on Google Books, some of which were frist published a millenium or more ago. A good book is a good book. It has no expiration date.

I have also learned a lot about myself in the last few years. I do not suffer fools and idiots well. I have little patience for them anymore. I have learned not to argue with them, for they cannot be persuaded of anything worthwhile. It is best to let them blow and keep moving along. There seems to be more of them these days than there used to be, but I reckon I used to be counted among their number by my grandfather’s generation. I have become my grandfather. This is not an entirely bad thing. In fact, my brother and I are both remarkably like our grandfather. We laugh at each other about this, but continue on with the same habits and practices we learned at his feet. He would be proud of the parts of him that we retained and the parts of him that we let go. We all have things about us that are best let go, and hopefully some worthy of retention.

I do not like incompetence or indifference from those whose job it is to serve me. I serve people, and incompetence would embarrass me to no end. In my business, it can be fatal. And indifference? Never to a good customer. I’ll admit to some indifference to customers determined to be bad ones, those who place unreasonable demands that they aren’t willing to pay for, but as soon as I discovered my own indifference to them, I let them go, informing them that I could no longer serve them. Sometimes it is better to cut a bad customer loose. We can’t be all things to all people. I only want to be everything to a select few. The older I get, the fewer there seem to be.

I suppose we all get to an age when everyone we know and respect, and who knows and respects us, are retired or soon to be retired. My son better wake up. He’s coming along, but needs to come further, faster. I suppose all fathers say that. I know my granddaddy told me that a thousand times. I was too busy to pay much attention at the time. Every ass-chewing he gave me was for my own benefit, but it sure didn’t seem so. He was trying to make something out of me, trying to mold the soft formless clay he saw in front of him into something useful so that when it hardened, it would have a keen edge.

I reckon he got his point across. It took a while, though. Mainly, for me, it took a marriage, a mortgage, and a child. That helps one come to the realization that one must work, and not just work, but learn to be successful at it. Our successes come when we gain competence and learn to serve well those who value our work, becoming indispensible to them. Eventually they know our number by heart. They use it often. We answer when they call. They know when we answer that a solution to their problem has already begun. It is problems that people have; it is solutions they are searching for. The good customers are willing to pay for that. But one must serve them and deliver.

After having previously said that I was less informed than I used to be, it could be the opposite. I put less mush into my mind. Sometimes the more you take in, the less you actually know, and the less you understand what you do know, which is terribly counterproductive. I know less than I used to, but am more persuaded of what I do know about life and living.

Everything comes back around again. It ever goes in circles. If we live through a cycle, we see the same old political motivations, fears, designs, and fashions come back around, except that they seem to fit themselves into the very spaces from whence previous generations had excluded them.

I met a young man last week on a job site. He was as taciturn as Rodin’s Thinker.

You don’t say much, do you son?” I said after having worked around him all day and not heard a single word.

He looked me in the eye and slowly and simply shook is head no. No sound escaped his lips. That made me laugh out loud.

Good answer,” I said with a smile. He smiled, too.

I asked him if he knew who Calvin Coolidge was.

No sir,” he said, which did not really surprise me but still disappointed me somewhat. What do they teach kids in school these days? I was glad, though, that the young man did answer a direct question.

He was the 30th president of The Unitred States, serving from 1923 to 1929,” I said.

No wonder I don’t know who he was,” the young man replied. “That was way before I was born.”

It was before I was born, too, and I know who he was. You know who George Washington was, don’t you?” I asked.

Yes sir,” he said, as reticent as a Vermont farmer.

That was way before you were born, too,” I replied, going on to give him the story of ‘Silent Cal’ and the bet a woman had made wherein she had wagered she could get President Coolidge to say more than two words. Silent Cal’s only reply to her was, ‘You Lose.’

The young man burst out laughing at this story. I was glad to share it with him, silent as he was. Maybe he will go and read up on Silent Cal. Maybe a whole world will open up for him. He had quick eyes, attentive ears, and a slow tongue. I hope these will serve him well. I suspect they will. Maybe one day, as an old man himself, he will remember the old man with the big white moustache who made him laugh with an historical anecdote.

Maybe we will all look back at ourselves after having come through these acrimonius times and have a good laugh at ourselves. If we are unable to do that, we will continue to divide ourselves into a complete, deadly insignificance.

The bible has a couple of things to say about that:

Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Whether or not one believes in the veracity or inspiration of scripture, it is good to take wisdom where one finds it. This is wisdom for the ages.

As for me becoming an old man: I have had visions of myself as an old man. The old man in my visions does not look like me….yet. The old man in my visions was a lot older than I am now, twinking eyes, quick witted, quick to smile, and quick to laugh. He did wear glasses, though, so I am part of the way there. My vision of myself also had a full head of thick, white hair, and I am working in that direction, though gray has not yet completly claimed me. It is good to have seen a vision of yourself as an old man when the oncologists say I am three years beyond my previously assigned expiration date. I have no remorse about that, and only fleeting moments of morbidity that last as long as I let them, which is as brief as an answer from the taciturn young man I mentioned earlier. I will cling to my vision of my future self as I ponder the mysterious ways of drawing people together rather than dividing them further, which is, and will remain, my today’s contribution to politics.

You’d be surprised at what I edited out of here that slipped in when I wasn’t paying attention. Political commentary will sneak up on a person. Writing something as useless and trivial like this is much harder work.

Turn off your TV. Open a good history book. Laugh at yourself. Relax for a moment. The good thing about a history book is that you can read it until you get sleepy, fall asleep, and when you wake up, not a single thing in it has changed. There is comfort in that.

In spite of it raining for the last 24 hours, it has been a good day, and I am thankful to be in it.

I hope Tennessee had a good day in Houston. She was on my mind all day.

©2018 Mississippi Chris Sharp

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