I’ve heard many times the Lord helps those who help themselves. I think that’s probably true most of the time, depending, of course, on what we decide to help ourselves to. Regardless, things usually work out better if we put forth a little more effort.
Last week, when I opened the shop door one morning to load the truck and get ready for work, a young rabbit decided he wanted to hop into the shop for some reason. I’m not sure why, since there isn’t anything in there to eat that would appeal to a rabbit that I know of, and it isn’t any warmer inside than it is outside. But he came in anyway, and despite my excited instructions to vacate the premises, made his way under or behind some workbenches and tool boxes, out of sight, but not out of mind.
I picked up a 2 x 4 and banged on a workbench and an empty 5 gallon bucket while whistling my shrillest whistle, and then put a Slim Whitman album on the old shop stereo with the volume turned up while I retreated to the office to finish the morning’s paperwork. While I hadn’t seen the rabbit slip out the open door during my whistling fit, I was convinced few of God’s creatures, least of all a young woodland variety, would be able to weather an entire album side of Slim.
So I closed the door and went to work, secure in the notion that fuzzy little buddy had made good on his escape, and was back in the great outdoors eating clover and avoiding coyotes. Confident I was, but not so confident that I didn’t open the door, pick up a 2 x 4, and give that bucket a couple of good whacks when I returned home that evening. I figured on the outside chance that the rabbit was deaf, or had really bad taste in music, and had stayed in hiding during the morning’s audio onslaught, he would surely be hungry enough by now to come out of hiding and make a dash for the open door.
While I was convinced the problem had resolved itself when I left the shop that evening, I’m sorry to report that when I went to the shop the next morning, I was greeted by a dead rabbit lying in the middle of the floor. While I was relieved he had the decency not to pass in some obscure hiding spot where his rotting corpse would have been tougher to deal with in a few days, I was also disappointed that he hadn’t taken one of the many opportunities he had been given to live a fuller and longer life. But I also remembered he was a rabbit, and probably not prone to thinking of things beyond the moment.
Speaking of the moment, at this particular one we’re 16 months or so away from the next Presidential election. We have about that many candidates who have thrown their hats into the presidential ring, waiting on some of us to weed them down to just one survivor. If recent history is any indicator, that survivor will be the one that convinces the most people he or she can help them out of whatever problem they currently find themselves in. And again, if recent history is any indicator, what actually will happen is that survivor will help maintain policies that take from one group of people and give to another group of people, making one group more angry and one group more dependent, all the time adding to a multi-trillion dollar debt that another group down the proverbial road will be expected to pay.
I can’t help but believe that if the federal government was capable of helping us out, it would have done so already. While it might have a few legitimate and Constitutional duties and obligations, most of what it does nowadays simply puts us deeper in the hole. Fortunately, the Constitution also contains the 10th Amendment, which states that anytime the federal government oversteps its authority, the people and states can nullify its actions and decide how to best help themselves.
It’s something we need to seriously consider, before the door closes for good.
I’m going to be 63 years old in a couple of weeks, and I don’t suppose it’s uncommon for people my age to reminisce about how things have changed over the years. There isn’t much that hasn’t changed. Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. And probably sometimes, it just all depends how you look at it.
We went for a drive last weekend, and saw three bald eagles in various locations along the way. Eagles are a lot like white-tailed deer in this area, in that 50 years ago there were hardly any of them around.
A few years ago the deer started making a comeback, and a few years later the eagles did the same, although it seems the deer are still more plentiful than the eagles. I do enjoy seeing them both, probably more so the eagles because they aren’t quite as common yet.One of the raptors we saw last weekend was rising out of a cornfield along the road, with a thrashing rabbit clutched in its talons. The scene made me think that as much as I enjoy the growing population of the stately birds, a lot of rabbits, this one in particular, probably don’t share my enthusiasm. I imagine anybody who has lost a fender or a few bushels of soybeans to the increasing deer herds probably doesn’t share my enjoyment of them, either.
I’m convinced most things in our lives don’t qualify as either completely good or completely bad. While there might be a few items or ideas in the world that have absolutely no redeeming qualities at all, I realize something I find repulsive might appear totally different to another person. Broccoli, for instance, comes to mind.
Over the last couple of months, the discussion of school funding, and particularly the funding of public and charter schools, has been receiving a lot of airtime. It seemed to come up at least partly because our governor doesn’t get along that well with our superintendent of public instruction. It’s not my intention to question how Mike Pence and Glenda Ritz have gone about resolving their differences. Most of you likely have enough questions and answers of your own already.
I have, however, noticed a great deal of animosity toward charter and private schools by many supporters of public schools, and I think we all need to question that animosity. Alternate forms of education are not being created and tested as a means to end public schools, as many would have us believe. They are instead expanding educational opportunities and choices for students and parents, along with new opportunities in home schooling co-operatives and online institutions.
I’m a longtime supporter of educational choice, and I realize that doesn’t mean we will all make the same choice. I wouldn’t necessarily expect someone who is heavily involved in the public school system to share the same enthusiasm for school choice, but we shouldn’t attempt to cast aspersions on one type of schooling in order to gain funding for another.
In the end, we should be about seeing that each child gets the education that fits their needs best, and consider that different types of school might be what it takes to make that happen.
And then maybe after that, in our spare time, we could teach some of these deer to leave the soybeans alone and start eating broccoli.
The other day I was listening to a friend describe a truck/train accident that he had once witnessed. Apparently the semi was crossing the railroad track, but before the attached trailer could make it across, the train hit it, tearing it loose from the tractor and pushing it sideways down the track. He told how the trailer continued down the track, clipping off telegraph poles as it went along. I suppose referencing telegraph poles is a telltale sign as to which generation you belong too. My generation would probably have called them telephone poles if one of us had been telling the story. I suspect that one day my grandchildren will have no recollection whatsoever of telegraph or telephone poles, or the wires that connected the poles, along with the people that used them. Probably when I try to tell them about the poles and wires, they’ll look at me the way they do when I tell them about walking across the room to turn channels on the television.
We had a similar situation last week with a doctor in the hospital. Dad was in for a few days, and the young doctor was explaining a test they were going to do on Dad’s heart. He told Dad they were going to perform an ultrasound, which would give them the same type of image he could see of his children when Mom was expecting. As I said, he was a young doctor. I guessed around 12 or 13, but my wife assured me he was at least in his early 20’s. I suppose he thought ultrasounds had always been around, and I’m sure they have been around as long as he has been a doctor, and probably as long as he has been alive. But when my brothers and sisters and I were born, the closest thing we had to an ultrasound was when the doctor would draw a stick person picture on the chalkboard in the waiting room.
I think we have the tendency to accept what we are most familiar with as being normal. Another friend mentioned the other day that he thought it was rude of people to use their smartphones or kindles when they were in a social setting, but thought it would be more acceptable if they chose to read a book or newspaper in the same setting. Another generational “tell”, I think. And while I have the tendency to agree with him, I also realize that many of the taboos my and previous generations think should remain in place will fall by the wayside like telegraph poles when the next couple of generations reach the “previous” status, and the new normal takes ahold.
Truth be told, as individuals, we probably don’t have a lot of control over what is normal for society. We might have some control over what is normal for ourselves, and maybe some but not quite as much control over what is normal for our families. I think most of the time we have even less control over what is normal for the government.
Last week, after a big snow storm out east, a report came out of Bridgewater, New Jersey, about a couple of young men who were walking around the neighborhood offering to shovel the snow from the sidewalks of homeowners. A couple of policemen stopped them and informed them that they were in violation of an ordinance that required them to obtain a permit from the town hall before doing any soliciting. I was happy that there was so much public outcry over the action that the police chief and councilmen in Bridgewater felt it necessary to apologize, trying to explain that there was a misunderstanding over both the intention and implementation of the ordinance.
But it made me think again of how normal it is for the government to regulate so many things that they didn’t used to regulate, and wonder how many generations it will take before we accept that requiring permits for shoveling snow is normal, and the politicians won’t even apologize for it.
I’ve heard it said that nothing is certain in this world but death and taxes. I always thought that was a pretty broad statement, because while everybody is going to die, not everybody is going to pay taxes. And there are a few other things that I know for certain, but it would take more space than I’m giving this post to list them, and besides, I just wanted to address one of the certainties of the afore mentioned taxes.
The Department of Revenue shut down a business in Hagerstown this week because it didn’t pay its taxes. Whatever the circumstances were leading up to the closure, one thing is certain. If you own a business, the government has first dibs on your money. What ever type of taxes you were supposed to be collecting for them, they want. If you haven’t been paid by a customer, or if you had some unexpected expenses in your business and come up a little short, the government still wants to be first. Even if your kids have to go hungry, or you miss a payment to a supplier or the bank, the government still gets its share first.
If you own a business, that’s just the way it is.
I haven’t won many awards in my life. Certainly not many major awards anyway.
I did manage to win the Thomas Paine Award from the Libertarian Party a few years back, but other than that it was mostly just a few red ribbons and such along the way.
Back in October of 1968, I was a new member of the Hagerstown Explorer Post #3, and we went on a canoe trip down the White River. The water was a little high and rough from some fall rains I guess, and at one point all of the canoes except the last one in the group were swirled around a giant tree and capsized.
Never having attained my merit badge in swimming, I grabbed onto a tree limb in the raging waters and held on for dear life, convinced that the life jacket I was wearing was probably as defective as the guide that had led us into such a hazard in the first place. In a matter of seconds, my tennis shoes were swept from my feet, never to be seen, at least by me, again.
While the rest of the troop was gather up was gathering whatever equipment and rations they could salvage from the flood waters, one of our scoutmasters, Bob Beeson, was standing on the shore, shouting “Bill! Bill! Just let go and you will float down to us!” I wasn’t sure who or where Bill was, but decided it was probably my best bet to hang onto that limb until the water receded.
It was then that another of our leaders, Floyd Sanders, tapped Bob on the shoulder and informed him that my name was Rex. The new instructions gave me a little more confidence, and in a couple of minutes I was on dry land and ready to resume the adventure.
At our next meeting, Floyd presented me with a name tag and this:
He called it “The Barefoot Boy Award.” Now that was a major award. I’ve kept it for 45 years.
Floyd passed away this morning at the age of 78. I was proud to know him, and I’m awful proud he took the time to know my name. Otherwise, I might still be hanging onto that limb down on the White River.
Thanks Floyd, it’s been good to know you.