The good-looking one, the one in need, the one that almost was
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The candidate visits early in the morning, when it’s still dark out. We meditate together. He sits beside me while I write. We go running together and lift weights at the Y. We talk about our childhood. We cry, like men. I wonder, All this for one vote?
Democrats: the mother who never says no. Republicans: the stern father. They both fear questions that give rise to bigger questions. They fear the alphabet, the way words can arrange themselves into any incantation. They fear the maids who scrub their floors.
The similarity of revolutionary zeal, Left or Right, when ideology replaces lived experience, when we can’t see the humanity in a “greedy landlord” or a “welfare cheat.”
We layer over our hurt and anger lest they shout their ugly wish; we’re all politicians when the votes are being counted. How many of us who profess our desire for world peace have any idea what peace is, or dwell in peace for more than a moment now and then? How hard it is to change something: a habit or an institution.
Progress: imagining that the next, and the next, and the next lie is the best.
My responsibility for what happens to everyone, everywhere. For sitting down to a great meal in a restaurant. For taking that extra bite. Compliments to the chef. Praise the Lord. For what? Because I have food to eat and someone else doesn’t?
When I earned five thousand dollars a year, I made more than 80 percent of the people in the world. The first year I earned twenty thousand dollars, I joined the richest 5 percent.
I want the homeless man to smile back at me, to acknowledge our shared humanity. I want HBO in my hotel room, and a view. What a swollen appetite, that makes of life a meal and complains, Not enough.
Truth can’t sign its name, can’t read lengthy contracts, can’t afford a lawyer. Truth depends on us to speak it.
Shall I scorn the oppressors as much as they scorn the oppressed? There’s a Buddhist story about a man struck by an arrow from an unknown assailant. He refuses to tend to the wound until the archer is found and punished. While the search continues, the wound festers, until finally it kills him.
In today’s mail, there’s a letter from S., who invites me to join him in the northern Idaho forests to cut the tall, dead timber. He writes: “Many of the trees I am cutting now were more than three hundred years old before they died. When they were young saplings, the United States of America had not even been invented yet.”
This poverty of awareness that looks at the world and judges it fit or unfit, that wants to improve everything but itself, feed everyone but never question what we’re really hungry for.
My favorite page in the January 1996 issue was “Sy Safransky’s Notebook.” In this election year, we who are guided by our hearts as well as our heads need to get serious about electing good people and curbing the power of money and private interests. Without forfeiting The Sun’s readable style, aren’t there ways to open it up to more direct discussion of political ideas between now and November?