Thursday, June 16, 2016

One word that matters

Living on a boat the way we do, one of the things we don't do much is drive. A fact that puts us on the fringe of American society all by itself. And sometimes I kind of miss it. The Z car was a hoot to drive. Tearing up the roads on the GSXR, who wouldn't miss that? There are fond stories of long road trips sprinkled throughout my life, all the way back to family vacations. A family-famous one has to do with two families, one station wagon, an impromptu desire to see Niagara Falls, and fog. But two marathon days of 1100 miles each within a week have, I suspect, satiated my thoughts of going driving for a while.

Twice we were nearly forced off the road by one of the 18-wheeled whales of the highway. One driver was talking on the phone in the midst of moderate to heavy traffic all moving at better than 70 miles an hour. The other was reading a newspaper! Really? What kind of brain sits at the controls of 80,000 pounds moving 70 miles per hour reading a newspaper? (I think that comes out to 1,135,534.04 joules of energy, enough to light a 1,135,534.04 watt bulb for one second. Damn brother, pay attention to where you point that thing!)

The trip also provoked a bit of concern over my land dwelling fellow human beings. For, in addition to driving, being back on land means being in hotel, which means being exposed to TV. There were three of them in the breakfast nook alone. Along with my Frosted Flakes I was served a constant stream of utterances from the Orange One who would be King. Utterances that, depending on the tilt of your own inner muse, could be described as gibberish, lunacy, fantasy, treason, or prophecy. It is rumored that there are a couple of other people also involved in the current election campaign, but it would be hard to prove by watching TV. The Orange One was pretty much the only face on the screen and, I have to admit, it looks like a face that would fit well on a box of Frosted Flakes.

All of which is entertaining, serving up tons of advertising dollars (the whole reason TV exists at all), and clearly keeps an entire class of people busy who otherwise would have little else to offer the rest of us. But it also makes one wonder just what the land dwellers are hoping to accomplish? Entertaining is one thing, governing is another, different thing. And the two don't have anything in common. It makes me glad I live on a boat fixed to land with only a few lines easily tossed.

Maybe my land dwelling friends should consider confining all of campaigning - reporting, speeches, policy proposals, promises - to live events that one can attend, or the written word. No TV coverage of any of it. People often say things “off the cuff,” so a politician claiming he “misspoke” or was “misinterpreted” is a given. But that rarely happens with what is written. Politics, decision making, policy, governing, these are things of real value, they matter. TV tends to trivialize everything and everyone. Indeed, the “Orange One” himself is trivialized. I have to admit though, I read his book once upon a time. It didn't make me think “President.” Huckster maybe, thief, poor excuse for a human being , but not "President." Buying a government, and running one, are also two different things. Actually, I suspect Tony Schwartz, who co-authored “The Art of the Deal” would be a better candidate.

Note: For the one or two who might read this blog and support Mr. Trump at the same time, no offense. I tried to take the man seriously but, really? Conspiracy Theorist in Chief? Executive Wooist? Most of the people on the planet crazy enough to think they are the smartest, or the toughest, or the ones with the best words, are not crazy enough to make that claim out loud. Doing so marks one as seriously unhinged.

The tragedy of Orlando unfolded while we were on land as well. TV carried the pictures. Those on screen did their best to add words that mattered, but failed. There were the instant accusations from the usual suspects. No one said anything not scripted, not the NRA, not “the left,” not “the right,” not the politicians, not the President.  CNN, MSNBC, Fox - one knew precisely what they would be saying without bothering to change the channel. There were the usual promises, words of “thoughts and prayers”. Which have, by now, proven to be utterly inconsequential. No one is thinking. No one is listening.

Orlando, San Bernardo, Colorado Springs, Roseburg, Chattanooga, Charleston, Isla Vista, Ft. Hood, Washington DC, Santa Monica, New Town, Brookfield, Minneapolis, Oak Creek, Aurora, Oakland, Seal Beach, Tucson, Manchester, Huntsville, Ft. Hood (again), Binghamton, Dekalb, Omaha, Blacksburg, Salt Lake City...

There is only one word that matters.  One that will count people as more important than profits. One that will elevate the freedom to live above the freedom to kill. One that can change the fear of having to risk living with others into the promise of being able to live with others. Unfortunately, it is one everyone has to agree on before anything can happen. One that those who profit, who love the violence, who need fear to stay in power, will never utter.


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