Sean’s Journal: I am enjoying a second day at Mt. Rushmore. Dad, thanks for last night’s phone call. There are so many historical exhibits here and good snack foods, especially the ice cream. The place is a gold mine for chatting with tourists and National Park Service employees. Vince, I had an especially good chat with one older couple, about your and Marie’s age. They had just bought a small motor home. The older gentleman said he’d been to Mt. Rushmore years before on a business trip, but that his first goal with their new RV was to bring his wife here. They were really enjoying the views and the ice cream. I asked them what made them happy as Americans beside the ice cream. They told me that they longed to see our nation become more unified. They are proud to be Americans, but they see too many special interest groups each trying to reshape the country in their own image rather than to help Americans find common ground. They said the word “extreme” seems to explain everything going on—extreme sports, extreme reality shows, extreme political ideologies, and extreme lifestyle preferences of many kinds.
Apparently, some group is now rallying against “abusive language” that might offend animals like saying, “That guy’s as dumb as a mule.” I would think the guy might be offended, but apparently mules are also offended. It seems to me that the whole idea of “political correctness” has gone to the extreme.
Vince’s Response: [A few of my blogs are a little longer than others, but hopefully worthwhile.] About “political correctness” and those “extremes” of our society… We Americans have a real balancing act to do. We want everybody to have equal opportunities and for no one to get offended by anything. We also want everybody to be allowed to express their own unique points of view whether these are offensive to others or not. Sort of contradictory.
Let me talk about things that are “inter-generational,” about finding the balance between that which is modern and that which is old-fashioned. It is important to note that each human gets to be young once and, if she or he is blessed to stay healthy, each person gets to be old once. Each older generation hopes the younger generation will still understand where they’ve been. Each younger generation wants to be “free to be me” and to reinvent everything. To address that older couple’s concerns about “extremes,” let’s talk about food and being polite to animals. Let’s go fishing.
Remember: The Andy Griffith Show, one of the highest rated of the 1960’s. There are two TV personalities whose names will eventually fade into oblivion sometime in this new millennium. And yet, the father and son duo of “Andy Taylor” (played by Andy Griffith) and his son “Opie” (played by Ron Howard) can warm our hearts as we appreciate the simple things of years gone by. Andy, Opie, and beloved Aunt Bee live together in the delightful yet mythical town of Mayberry, North Carolina, (sort of resembles Juniper, Utah, once upon a time). One of the most lovable scenes is to see Sheriff Taylor and his young son whistling and walking down the trail carrying their fishing poles on their way to the river to go fishing.
As a boy, I used to love to go fishing with my dad in the Montezuma Creek on the Mogollon Rim near Payson, Arizona. I loved to find little sand-crusted grubs under the river rocks. The fish love these and one of them on a fishing line, with hook and sinker, placed in the right dark fishing hole in the otherwise bubbling creek was sure to land a beautiful rainbow trout. As I fished, I had visions of that trout cleaned-up, salted, and frying in a pool of real butter over our campfire. It would be accompanied by cottage fries smothered in ketchup, coleslaw, and some A&W Root Beer. Yum, yum. Nowadays, the salt and butter have come to symbolize high blood pressure and cholesterol. BTW: It’s now Diet Root Beer. And, as times changed, I began to hear of “catch and release” fishing, which helps to preserve fish populations and yet is still a sporting opportunity for avid anglers. Ultimately, modernism has crept in with another new extreme… I should probably be concerned to not prematurely traumatize the fish by talking about hooks, sinkers, and frying pans in their presence. Thus, I no longer go fishing. It has become too complicated. BTW: I don’t think I’ve ever insulted a mule and I think trout is downright healthy to eat just like salmon where many Eskimos live, since they don’t have easy access to a Whole Foods grocery store to buy plant-based protein alternatives.
I think we need to pursue worthwhile causes to protect our world, each other’s constitutional rights, and our health while also recognizing the rights we each do have to choose alternate lifestyles and to live according to our own values and family traditions. There is an old saying: “Live and let live.” This would seem to be a valid variation on The Golden Rule.
Finally, it’s a fact, real ice cream is probably not good for your physical health, but it sure contributes to my emotional health. Enjoy that ice cream. Those lovely milk cows feel self-actualized as they provide us with such delicious, protein-rich cream. And, certainly, be nice to cows. They truly are smarter and more sensitive creatures than we often recognize. One cow probably looks at another, as they both watch us eating ice cream, and says, “Hey Bessie, we made that.”
Bookends: (1) Extreme is exactly that, extreme. Taking extreme positions on political and social issues can be polarizing and divisive. It often precludes the benefits of teamwork. (2) The philosophy of “live and let live” may result in fewer wars abroad and at the dinner table. (3) Finally, ice cream is magic.