The old man and the fancy words

gadsden-flag-dreamstime_s_76381771An Independence Day fable

So what do you think about what’s happening?

“As little as possible,” said the old man.

But it’s so important that we do something about —

“‘We,’ is it? Is that what they told you?”

Well, yes, we’re in this together. They say it all the time.

“… from their fortified bunkers behind closed doors on high, and they only come out to issue their latest decrees, don’t they?”

They have so much to do.

“If you say so,” said the old man. “Me, I have a life to run, and they’re not going to do the job for me, they’re just going to try to tell me what to do and how to do it. Well, I already know what to do, and thank you very much. I have some work to do for my neighbors, and they pay me well enough.”

But the election —

“Let me tell you what I think, friend,” the old man said. “Twelve score and four years ago, someone wrote down some fancy words that changed the way we thought about rulers. The words said we were born free — that freedom was a birthright and God intended us to make our own choices, and that one of those choices is to decide who’s in charge. And here’s the biggest change: Each of us is in charge. The people we used to call rulers got renamed representatives, and the people running the ruling enterprise were to represent us, our beliefs and our thoughts about the way it ought to be. And so if the enterprise is in a mess, well, that’s what most people wanted. And if we’re at peace with one another and I have no quarrels with my neighbors (and my neighbors are all the other folks out there) and the people we put in charge of the enterprise are fighting and wrestling and cussing each other and playing stupid games, then they’re not doing what the words set down anymore — especially if the ‘representatives’ are trying to make our choices for us.”

So which side are you voting for?

“Sides? There weren’t supposed to be ‘sides,’ just people running the show for us. None of those people running the show want to represent me. I have no representative, so I leave it all alone and live my life.”

But then, the other side wins.

“You’d be surprised how little difference that makes. No matter who wins the tussle and gets to run the government, life goes on the same as always — births, deaths, happy stuff, sad stuff, eating and sleeping and loving. The things the rulers fight and wrestle and cuss about may change, but the basics of life don’t. I still need to earn my keep, so I get my work done and hug my loved ones and represent myself because no one else will.”

But one side is the status quo, and the other side will change things for the better.

“Nope. They’re two sides of the same coin. And folks like me, who figure there’s a third way, get ignored. So it’s a deal: You ignore me, I ignore you, and life goes on.”

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, and an insistent cat. Author of How to Play a Blue Guitar, A Bridge at Crossroads, Refuse to be Afraid, and A Scream of Consciousness.

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