Harry Drabik

K i S is short for Keep it Simple, a useful but dangerous concept. Take, as example, the Ukraine conflict. How do we simplify a good thousand years of competing forces? Are we going to “set right” the language differences and distinctions between two branches of Orthodox Christianity? Let me know what you’d propose and get back to me when it’s nicely settled.

On the other hand, it’s sometimes useful to mark simple distinctions. Democracy and Theocracy are starkly (I’d say oppositional) different despite superficial spelling similarities. Democracy can be and sometimes is self-government. Good huh? Well, can be but not always.

On the other hand if a Theocracy (acting similar to other dogmatic politics) allows voting it will be to affirm its rule. In general Theocracies and etc. don’t like self-government because it threatens their power. Being rule according to religion, Theocracy claims a divine source and justification and needs no vote.

Will Theocracy have a referendum on keeping God in office? In some cases a clear-simple view is possible. Mostly not. The Ukraine, as example, has a thousand years of baggage involving Norse (Viking), Russ (?), Slavs and so on including Turks, Finns and two branches of Orthodox Christianity plus contemporary rule as a socialist nation run by authoritarians who have suspended elections. So on one hand it’s simple in supporting the invaded against the invader, but on other hand hopeless to untangle. Same in the Middle East.

Can be simple in one sense, but then twice the baggage if we recall (seasonally appropriate) Herod who was king of Jews in lands called Judea, Judah, Galilea and etc. with somewhat unclear borders to match the various names, but recognized as a state by Rome. All so simple, or not. Can say the kingdom’s seat was Jerusalem where presumably Jews were present more than two thousand years (by our calendar) ago. Simple. Clear as daylight.

But then there’s genocide, which in its classic sense reduces a population which has instead doubled, more than doubled and then some. Is this simple, clear? What’s to guide us to find justice or fairness? If you’re robbed do you need to know the serial numbers of the bills taken? If hurt feelings justify beating another do we end up assuming everyone is too tender to speak to or look at? The commoner’s breath dare not touch the noble. That what we want? What is that society? Give it a name. I can but won’t. I

can, however, bet I’d not like such a community unless lived among those setting the rules and not bothered by consequences of where my breath might go. Reform is never satisfied. Never. Always more for the reformer to do, to fix.

Or is this quite often enjoyment of power? Power be a wonderful thing to have. Joe Stalin used it and said it well saying “For friends everything. For enemies the law.” That’s a paraphrase. Generosity to friends buys their loyalty which is further ensured when they see what the law does to the un-friended. Was also said of that Georgian powerhouse, “Never be friends with Kuba (Joe’s nickname).” A friend to Kuba might become too close, see-know too much. They become a threat. Then they are disgraced, then removed. Gone.

Good thing we never do any of that.

I wonder how many recall Don Fraser. Well ago I worked with him revising the Wilderness Act to reflect changes in use. Revision was needed but highly unpopular in much of NE MN. Reviled. A person can grow accustomed to not being comfortable. Hate mail and threats open and sly. Have you ever? Not recommended to do or experience.

None-the-less, people do regrettable things. How to react? In kind? Shrug it off (powerless)? Not much the individual can do.

When Fraser’s home was vandalized the Secret Service came on the scene, dust settled. Fraser’s bid for U.S. Senator from Minnesota got (some may recall) crushed by NE opposition, “Roast Fraser, Cook With Short.” As a result, enter Plywood Rudy.

I bring up Fraser, however, not as a loser but as example of strict ethics and honesty. When my first book came out I sent a copy to Don, a thank you valued at less than $5. He did not keep it. Instead it went to the Library of Congress. Don accepted no gifts, period. Small thing. Who’d complain of a book? Didn’t matter to Don. Scrupulous, he was his own guardian. What lesson?

Learned from Don, I repeat. Personal accountability that prevents abuses is better than bending here-there because complaint is unlikely. No fooling with a man who took oath and responsibility seriously. In his office you were a guest of the government and should act so. In a government car or flight you were a guest. When arrived you were a guest there as well. If you had a private agenda you should not act on it. Go home and come back on your own as a private citizen. Sounds like good practice. Sounds Minnesotan, doesn’t it, to avoid problems rather than grow them. No better guide to personal integrity than the person.

“Don’t worry. Everybody does it,” isn’t morality. It’s an excuse. If you remind yourself about right-wrong you’re on a better footing than relying on witnesses. True honesty occurs without any witness but one. No preachy moralizing, however, or at least not much. That’s because it’s more interesting to be reminded of how you, I and others deal with these tricky issues. Honest except for things taken from work and cheating on the job. Honest.

Story I have from a woman who was long ago seen by a niece as she pocketed a few eggs from an absent farmer’s henhouse. Woman’s sister didn’t like such an example for her daughter. But did the culprit fess up, leave money for the pilfered eggs or apologize? Nope. Well after most players were dead embarrassed justification continued with the line “I needed those eggs! Couldn’t get fresh eggs where I lived.”

Taking something without paying or permission is pretty much one thing. On the day of or 50 years later it’s the same thing. Worth remembering.