Monday, November 13, 2006


At church last week, the hard right wingers are mourning the results of the midterm Congressional elections. In their view, this is a disaster where their way of life is threatened but worse, their livelihoods as military contractor employees. That industry dominates the area where I live and in every election I can remember, the rumor would go round that if the Democrats won we would all lose our jobs. We didn't but fear mongering about losing our stuff seems to be pretty effective. That we might lose our souls isn't but it makes for good press to say we are worried about that. That phrase muttered to me in the minutes before I resigned from my former employer rings in my ear:

We don't care if it's immoral or unethical. It isn't illegal.

You know, slavery was legal. The Holocaust was legal. Legal is what a lawyer or group of politicians say is law at some given time in some given administration. Maybe we ought to worry more about what is right than we do about our stuff.

The Bishop of our church was visiting on Sunday. He relates the story that when talking to a young boy, he asked the boy if he knew what Bishop's do. The boy replied promptly, "They move diagonally."

And so they do. Who can quarrel with that understanding of the importance of political careers to our daily lives?

At the gigs I played, the discussions were about what they always are: football and sex. I avoid political discussions with people who are lit up like an off-Broadway musical. Here the uniting force of the party is they want to get laid or paid and I'm paid to keep them in that mood until they leave the room. I've never thought this to be unethical or immoral while they are handing me $20 bills to sing songs that my Father taught me when I was eight years old. As the fellow whom were sure went home in a taxi leaned over my left ear and sang into it badly while attempting to impress that woman with the cleavage all the way to her navel, I saw my Father's mischievous grin in my mind's eye and I missed him all the more.

And when you're somewhere out that door, though you started mighty poor, there'll be a little something of mine to get you through. My daddy taught his son to play the guitar....

I think he knows that he did equip me to get by when other means don't. I wasn't too proud to tell him that while he was alive, but I should have been happier about it because those old songs do.

At the party I attended by invitation, the wine and the sweets flowed freely among people most of whom are strangers to me with the exception of a now divorced friend and her children and my ex-GM and her wife. I was glad to see Janet because I adore her and her sons, and it is not unpleasant to say hello to Alice and Betsy because my relationship with them is business and any falling out there is not a topic for that party nor should it be. No, the uniting force at that party is a common political adversary, the current administration in the White House. ALL of the conversation there is political and rightly so, I guess, but I wonder if the politics of common enemies are strong enough to make positive changes once that enemy is out of power.

One comment made to me by an elderly gentleman was poignant:
I fear they voted against the Republicans and not for the Democrats.
I thought, "D'oh!" because all I was hearing in the room was admonitions about the moronic state of the Presidency and not a lot about the changes the new ruling majority would make. It doesn't bode well. These people need to find a more positive binding force or in two years, they will get another dose of their opposition in power after the Mean Machine that is cranking up even as I type this gets through pouncing on them again.

At a Veterans Day celebration earlier in the week, I watched the little old man who opens the door at church for us on Sunday mornings step forward to take honors from the assembled veterans and children at my daughter's school. Who knew that this kindly old grandfather, about five feet tall, frail with his cane and soft voice had carried an M1 Garand through the gates of Buchenwald and seen things that one prays neither oneself or one's children, in fact, no one ever sees again. His attitude at the door on Sunday mornings makes a lot more sense to me now. He is very happy to see us. My daughter tells us that is humility. When my wife told her that he is simply happy for every small beautiful moment he has, she replied,

But that is what humility is.

As I think about these parties here at 5AM on Monday morning, and I consider the different forces that bind us, I think my daughter is wiser than I am. We should be mindful and careful to consider when those forces make us humble or proud, and prefer humility for through it our happiness shines.

And I'd rather be happy.

1 comment:

Alexander Johannesen said...

Thanks for that post; poignant, and beautiful. And I can only wish my daughters to be as wise as yours. :)

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