Sunday, November 01, 2009

Take it or leave it...

Stinky Wilmont was my best pal back when we were attending Millville Grade School. I guess we had a lot of things in common. We both thought Rin Tin Tin was a lot smarter and faster than Lassie, and we were convinced Popeye and Bluto could both have done a lot better than Olive Oyl . We didn’t think much of the creamed peas they served us in the cafeteria on Wednesdays, and if the truth was told, neither one of us was really all that happy to be in school at all.

Of course, we had our differences, too. Stinky seemed to place a little less emphasis on personal hygiene. As I remember, that kind of ran in the family. He also liked to go coon hunting. I tried it a couple of times, but I just never saw the attraction.

It all worked out pretty well, though. We still got together when necessary to hide the creamed peas under the Best-Ever milk cooler, but I didn’t try to make Stinky take a bath, and he didn’t try to make me go coon hunting. It just seemed like the natural solution.

That philosophy has served me fairly well through the years. I’ve made friends that like to go hunting and friends that don’t. I’ve made a few friends that don’t like to bathe, although we’re not really that close. I’ve made friends that share my religious beliefs, and friends that have different religious beliefs, and friends that have no religious beliefs. I have friends that drink alcohol and friends that don’t, friends that smoke and friends that don’t, and a couple friends that chew or dip snuff. As long as people are tolerant enough that no one tries to force their choices on someone else, we seem to get along pretty well, although I do pay closer attention to the wind direction when I’m around one of the chewers.

I think for the most part, Americans have usually behaved that way, at least in their personal dealings. That’s not to say that some individuals aren’t pretty insistent about bringing others around to their way of thinking, but for the last 150 years or so, even with some major differences in opinions, we’ve managed to keep things half-way civil.

One of the things that has set us apart from some countries around the world is the way we have handled our elections. No matter how nasty the campaign was, or how much difference there was in the ideologies, in the end, the loser steps aside and the winner takes office ( except for a few local mayoral races, that is). It’s not like that everywhere. In some countries the losers grab guns and start shooting at the winners. Not much tolerance, I guess.

I don’t think we’ve reached that point in this country yet, although there does seem to be a growing divide among people concerning what they expect from their government. Right now there is a large group of people that want the government to provide health care for everybody. There’s also a large group of people that don’t want the government to provide health care for everybody. Although we haven’t seen too many guns brought out yet, several people on each side of the debate are getting pretty insistent, and even downright nasty, trying to make sure that their side gets to make the rules.

Before we do get to that point, maybe we simply need to step back and allow the people who want government health care to go ahead and pay for government health care plan, and allow people who don’t want government health care to go their own way.

I think that would work for a lot of government programs. At least it always worked for Stinky and me.

And while we’re at it, you’re all welcome to come to church with me next Sunday if you want to. But nobody’s forcing you. Yet.

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