Death

When I was a child,

I teased Death.

I jumped from high up on the bleachers,

and road my bicycle head-long across the crossing in front of the train.

 

When I was a young man,

I dared Death.

I charged into the smoke to put out the fire,

and did thing that should have killed me.

 

When I was a middle-aged man,

I shunned Death.

I took the safe path,

and dared not take risks.

 

Now I am an old man,

and I look at Death constantly.

I do not court him, nor seek him,

he is there, like a constant,

an old friend I know I will someday meet.

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I swore I would not, but I will write about politics.

Once upon a time, I wrote an op-ed column for a small local newspaper. In a lot of ways, it was a fun gig. I had editors who gave me more or less carte blanche, and I took full advantage of that freedom to write about pretty much everything. The only negative to it was politics.

Mind you, I loved writing a good piece about my local congressman, or the stupidity of going into Iraq for no real reason, but writing about politics means you look at some of the darker, seamier aspects of humanity.

That part I never learned to enjoy, and to this day, watching a politician pander to an audience, or listening to them promise things I know they either can’t or won’t do, an anger rises up in me that is hard to describe.

This being a presidential election year, that darker, seamier underbelly is prominently on display. I watch Donald Trump promise to build a wall along the border with Mexico, to make America ‘great again’, and all the other things he promises to do, and I wonder how the crowd can listen and not feel the need to vomit.

I also sometimes wonder how Trump can say the things he does. But then I remember he’s more a performer than a real person, and it become easier to understand how he can say what he does.

On the other hand, I watch, and I listen, as Bernie Sanders stands in front of his cheering throngs, promising he will break up the ‘big’ banks, put a single-payer health care system in place, and all the other things he says he’ll do…and I wonder how the crowd can be so stupid as to believe he can deliver any of the things he promises.

Then I remember that, like the Trump supporters, they’re just cheering because they hear their fantasy being supported. They hear a politician pledging to make their fondest dreams come true, and like the Trump supporters, they blind themselves to the fact that it can never happen. They are surrounded by their fellows, being told their vision of America is the ‘right’ one, and that is all they care about.

In other words, they are blind fools, falling for the siren song of a person willing to feed their beliefs.

People will no doubt hate this, and they will also hate the other thing I am about to say:

Revolutions, no matter how well intended, rarely if ever result in improvements.

So when you hear a politician crying out, calling you to ‘revolution’, I hope you will stop and think twice. Don’t listen to what they tell you they plan to do, listen to HOW they plan to do it. As the old line about scams go, “If it sounds too good to be true, that’s probably because it is!” Please keep that in mind as this election year moves forward, because the alternative is to be taken for a ride that you won’t like the end of.