Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rational and Reasonable...

That's what I think most people want government, at all levels, to be. But yesterday I was reminded of a lesson taught and learned long ago.

During my late teens through my 20's I had a dear friend and primary mentor, John. He was twice my age, and vastly more experienced. Some of the most important things I learned during that time were from him. We often spent long hours talking, sometimes just the two of us, often a small group of friends. During one of these conversations I was on a rant to the effect that government usually makes the right decisions (OK - I was not only young, but also foolish).

John leaned back, looked over his glasses and asked me what he had done during his Army service. "You were a radio/radar repair technician."

Then it hit me. Drafted right out of college during WWII, John had been a graduate in Modern Language, fluent in Spanish and German, and able to get along in Italian. (For the younger crowd, during that war, were were fighting Germans and Italians) He was also profoundly color-blind.

Not so much now, but at that time, electronic components had color codes. Being able to read the color codes was vital to doing the job well and correctly. The Army in its institutional wisdom took a man fluent in the language of a major enemy and put him in a job slot for which he was physically unqualified.

We always need to be praying in the direction of our government being rational and reasonable, but betting in that direction is probably unwise.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Harder Than It Appears...

I recently reconnected with someone I went to high school with, lo these many years ago. We were fairly close during that time, but I don't think we have spoken since the summer after graduation - 45 years and counting.

What was hard? In a few paragraphs in an email, fill in over four decades of dead air.

Try it. Think of someone you haven't seen in years, and write an email to quickly bring them up to speed. What gets included? What gets left out? What is important, and what is not?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Love him or hate him, Neal Boortz is an intelligent and provocative talk show host. This morning he said something that really resonated with me.

First, a little back story. Neal is profoundly anti-smoking. He believes smokers are fools, and periodically takes off on a rant to that effect.

This morning, a smoker called in to take Neal to task, pointing out that the American people have a constitutional to be fools, and that he should lighten up on smokers. During this exchange, the man admitted he would wishes he weren't a smoker, and Neal jumped on that statement, and there is where he said the thing that caught my imagination.

"Are you smoking right now?"

"No," the man answered.

"Then you are a former smoker – you have stopped smoking. Ten minutes, ten days, ten years... you are a former smoker. If you really want to stop, stop! The only question is – will you start smoking again?"

Wow. Just like all of us, just like all of our damaging habits and habitual sins. If we aren't doing it right this moment, we are a former (fill in the blank). The only question is, when decision time rolls around, maybe in ten minutes, ten hours, ten months, ten years... will we make a better choice than we did the last time.