Minor Things

Harry Drabik

Small things can reveal big differences. Selling real estate I had people ask for the owner to stay away so they could have the lake shore property to themselves. That was arranged. The owner absented for six hours. On returning the owner found a bag of lunch trash in the middle of the kitchen floor. That’s a small thing, but I bet the act of leaving behind lunch garbage says something to you, doesn’t it? It can be an “Oh so what?” Or it can be disappointing that guests would have lunch followed by leaving their trash in your kitchen. Could it be anger material if you had to sort for recycling and then pay for the trash remainder? And you could say that another real estate agent who was supposed to be present and was responsible failed to do their duty defined as Reasonable Care.

Or this small detail might show a twelve year old Scout taught “you pack it in, you pack it out” accepted more adult responsibility than some grownups. Neither age nor wealth assure character. What shows of the person ignoring trash on a sidewalk, and what is seen in the individual not too important or busy to pick it up? Little things can matter, sometimes by a lot.  

Similarly, maybe what’s left out is important as what gets emphatic attention. Last week I listened to some shape note singing. Shape note music is a largely American form with a distinctive style. A unique and valuable contribution has been ignored, I suspect in part due to most of the song content being religious, but also because the current narrative likes to focus elsewhere. One piece (Going Home) listened to (trying to understand the system) had this verse.

“I am glad I am born to die, from grief and woe my spirit will fly, and I don’t want to stay here long.” I’m not religious and not comfortable with the song’s sentiment, one I’ve heard elsewhere as “Wear the world like a loose garment.” Does this also mean to not take the present with such grave seriousness you miss its potential joys? Anyway, I think it fair to say the song is more than death wish put to music. Not being a believer, however, shouldn’t tie me to that dogma and more than belief might bind me in a different direction. Non-belief can be rather5 stupid if it doesn’t bring freedom or fails to deliver some understanding.

Though I’m not aboard being glad to die I wonder if my life would be nicer around people looking toward a hereafter or next door to non-believers bent on making their form of paradise a here-now reality. Seriously, if the aim is paradise (utopia) now we need to be damn sure we agree on what’s perfect. What’s in it for pork BBQ lovers in a vegetarian world of kale quiche?  

I wonder how many of you recall the days of Presidential Rose Garden talks. Settings mattered. The well-kept garden or flag-surrounded podium was essential. Some will remember as well a past where Presidential News Conferences were rarities and Presidents avoided the press as much as they could get away with. There was considerable criticism of this in those times. Ah, but it seems things have changed. Is current practice less presidential but more democratic? That’s a question to kick around.  

I wonder, too, how many recall as I do idealistic days focused around the concept of a Family of Man. Set aside objection to use of one word, was the model really so awful? A shift from unity to division may only be in a few words, but the gap opened is much more than a matter of words only. Should points of separation outweigh what we have in common? A difficult question. If looked at in detail there’s a conflict between generic peoplehood versus belonging to a specific culture and language.

Are the French too French, Somalis too Somali, or Japanese too Japanese? Or are those legitimate groups whereas as a construct Americans can be too American? Unity has to take in differences without outlawing. I don’t know how to balance unity with diversity, but suspect judgment of groups is a sorry move when based on non-choice characteristics.

I dislike authoritarianism and theocracy for what they are and do and not the color, language, or gender of those supporting or doing those things.   I’m possibly overthinking. Might be easier to look at things from the special lens of identity. Based on identity as I’ve seen it presented to high school students in our area the recent shooting of Mormons in Mexico is justice by a freedom fighting cartel paying back the members of a privileged white group. See, doesn’t that make it simple and clear? I bet if forced to we can all see the benefits of abandoning the Family of Man for the benefits of hammering away those differences that suit our fancy.  

Carbon has been classed as an official pollutant, but yet it figures importantly as a filtering or purifying element. Activated carbon is OK. A lump of coal hitting your head can kill. Maybe there’s more to it.  

Flying foreign flags is OK, as is flag burning. What happens if you burn a hijab?   Aside from questionable, Kavanagh lacked appeal. He didn’t come across well. Many see his redemption impossible. But, I hold out a slim hope. If he can take hostages, hold territory, wipe out opponents, chauvinistically take multiple wives, and adopt slavery in territory under his control then we can send a team to kill him like (insulting to canines) a dog. Maybe then, and only then, if the Baghdadi example applies it might be almost possible to forgivingly say he was an austere legal scholar. Maybe, but he has first to sponsor a lot of terrorism and killings. He better get busy or his grave will be unknown. Well, actually, his color’s all wrong, too florid. That’s good enough reason alone to reject him   Easy to get us people worked up. Harder to get us to think outside the confines of approval.