Leisurely Drives

There is a man in our neighborhood who drives very slowly. More slowly than your typical slow, too.  I just HATE to get behind him, and I am sure my neighbors do, too.  You basically have to stop and creep. He knows he is slow, I think, because often he will pull into a driveway to let you pass.  But if you come behind such an act of kindness on his part, then you get to wait an exasperating amount of time for him to get moving again. Back up – brake – find Drive on steering column – find gas – engage gas – brake again, “just to be sure”  – engage gas again, but not too much gas – proceed at about 10 miles per hour. Maybe slower.

I know the roads of my neighborhood like the back of my hand, so it always frustrates me when I get behind Mr. Creeper. “Oh, no,” I say to myself. “Not again!”  Not that I drive particularly fast either. Once my daughter’s friend commented that he hates to get behind me in our neighborhood, because I drive too slow.  Not true, of course, but it is all relative, I suppose. Back to Mr. Creeper. Waiting for him to get out of my way always gives me a chance to think, something many of us forget to do on a regular basis.  Today, my thoughts turned to my frustration, and why I am always in such a hurry. Why does he – or whatever else slows me down – frustrate me?

Then I started thinking about Mr. Creeper. He is old. Farmed all his life. Saw this neighborhood change from farmland with the occasional house to houses with the occasional farm. Rural to suburban. Very different worlds, then and now. He, and those like him, created a good quality of life here. I, and those like me, are benefiting from it. He probably hates speed demons more than I hate slow pokes.  He is probably right.

Thank you, Mr. Creeper, for making me slow down. These are your roads, really.  You take all the time you need.


The Sandusky trial and verdict (GUILTY!) got me thinking about the deadly sin of LUST.  Now there are hundreds of adjectives and emotions that come to mind when I think of the whole Sandusky mess, but in terms of my “seven deadlies” theme, lust is the one.

I find that words escape me when trying to describe my reaction to what Sandusky did, what he got by with for so many years, what Penn State ignored, what they rationalized, and most significantly, what he did to those poor, vulnerable victims. What altered state of mind allowed Sandusky to think that what he was doing was okay?  And in what state of mind did the Penn State administrators who looked the other way not stop to think about the victims.

Back to Lust.

Lust was the deadly sin that was committed, but there were lots of omissions, too. Where was the empathy? What about the awareness, kindness, even chastity?  And shame – where was the shame?

From Sandusky’s horrible crimes must eventually come healing. Penn State will certainly need to take a leadership role in that, but so should the other systems which allowed this to happen for so long. And Penn State may be the one getting all the attention these days, but there have been so many others – even in that safest of places, the church.  How can we protect our children from the predators that are among us?  One way is for all of us to take responsibility for others. We must all be alert to things that just don’t seem right. And we must all speak up for those who can’t – or won’t – speak for themselves.  That won’t rid the world of the Sanduskys among us, but it will definitely keep them from exacting the harm that this most evil and famous Sandusky has done.

The bottom line is that our acts and our in-actions have consequences. When we act, or when we fail to act, we must ask ourselves who or what is affected. If we ALWAYS consider the consequences before the act, our decisions will be ones that we can be proud of. And the world will be a much better place.

Where are the statesmen?

This debt crisis thing has the Democrats and Republicans playing a very dangerous game of chicken with our economy and the future of our country. Neither wants to be the first to give in, and both think they can hold out the longest. That does not seem to be very sound thinking, when so much is at stake.

Apparently they have reached a deal, finally. In my experience, an eleventh hour decision is usually full of mistakes. That remains to be seen in this situation, but it does seem to be full of distrust for the other side. How have we descended to such depths!

What happened to civility? What happened to doing the right thing? What happened to compromise?

Where are the statesmen?

In times like these . . .

Just like many people around the nation, I am getting fed up with all the negativity, political one-up-manship, and – to use a phrase we have heard a lot this week – vitriol.  We don’t need people from the left blaming the right for the acts of a madman. We don’t need the right inflaming the left by labeling their agenda or leaders as job-killing, anti-American, or socialist.

What we need is a statesman – or several of them. It might seem odd to quote Mikhail Gorbachev in a post about what we need in the U.S. but he summed it up  quite well. He said, ” A statesman does what he believes is best for his country, a politician does what best gets him re-elected.”

We need our political leaders to view the country’s problems according to what is best for its citizens rather than what is best for their party or what is most likely to get them re-elected.  Sometimes leaders have to make unpopular, but wise, decisions that are simply the right thing to do.  Even if it hurts their friends (or contributors). Even if it gives their opponents good fodder for the next election cycle.

We’ve been talking a lot about corporate social responsibility in the last few years, and are doing a much better job of holding businesses responsible for being good citizens. Corporations are talking about being more environmentally friendly, more animal friendly, more socially conscious about the workers. We still need to do better with this, but we’ve come a long way.

Now if we could just get our politicians to do the same. Congress is talking about requiring all bills to have the constitutional reference included.  What about the socially conscious references?  What will their bill do to the health and well being of our citizens, our natural resources, our grandchildren?  And not just their friends, either. They need to be thinking about the people on “the other side of the track,” too.  What about them? Those invisible Americans that have no voice but who need one now more than ever.

Where are all the statesmen?

A good life

A friend was buried today.  I didn’t know him very long, but I knew him well.  He was a good man. Loved his family, his community, his church, his motorcycle.  He loved to laugh, have fun, meet people.  He was sometimes too loud, sometimes said things that were a little insensitive.  ‘Politically correct’ did not hold much sway with him. But he cared about people, never ever meant to hurt anyone.  In fact, he tried to lift others up.  If he heard something nice about you, he told you.  If he noticed something good in you, he mentioned it.  He willingly shared his knowledge. All who knew him are better for the experience.

He was a friend, and the world – and I – will miss him. I’ll miss his hearty laugh, his ready smile, his bad jokes, his kindness.  And I’ll remember what it means to care about others, and hope I can follow his example.

Jack, I am glad I knew you.

What gall!

Who does Andrew Speaker think he is?  Everyone knows that tuberculosis is a pretty bad disease and is spread through the air.  Everyone knows that the air on an airplane is pretty poluted on the best days, and that one is more likely than not to come off an airplane with the virus du jour.  So he knows he has TB, gets on a plane anyway, or make that several planes, long international flights.  Runs from the CDC when they track him down – on another plane, no less.  And his comment now is that he really didn’t think he was putting anyone at risk?

Right.  Maybe he should have stopped at “I didn’t think.”  or maybe changed the sentence to, “I didn’t care.”  What incredible disregard for other people.  What arrogance! 

I’m afraid it rather sums up the way too many people have become these days. The thought is ME, ME, ME.  Speaker is perhaps the quintessential ME guy.  He is even willing to put his bride at risk, for goodness sakes!  Not to mention all the hundreds of people he came in contact with.  Shame on him.