“The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency”
Yesterday I attended a presentation by a friend who had led a delegation of Jews, Christians and Muslims to the Middle East where they visited Israel, Palestine and Jordan. They visited with people in refuge camps, ate with regular folks like you and me, and even built a Habitat for Humanity home. Their experience was somewhat life changing and they found as I have when I visited various parts of the world that people are generally good and are more like we are than we realize.
I have long been a believer that the hope of the future is public diplomacy, those people-to-people experiences that let us get to know each other without the filters of politics and extreme philosophies. Wilfred A. Peterson did a much better job than I ever could when he wrote about who we the people are and who we can be. Here is what he said:
We Are the Decent People
We are the decent people of the world. We are in the majority, for men and women are essentially decent. We live in all nations, we live under all the flags that fly. Decency is not determined by our economic status, our religion, the language we speak, the color of our skin, or the ideology under which we live. Human decency is a universal quality.
We, the decent people of the world, often have our voices drowned out by the shouts of leaders who misrepresent the things for which we stand.
We the decent people carry enough weight to tip the scale for decency if we will make ourselves heard…
We believe that war is the great indecency, that it kills and destroys all the higher sensibilities of man and leaves only death, suffering, and destruction in its wake.
We believe that this is a beautiful universe and that it is made for love and not for hate; for peace and not war; for freedom and not slavery; for order and not riot; for compassion and not violence; for happiness and not misery.
We believe that there is only one war to be waged in the name of human decency, and that is the war against all the common enemies of man… hunger, disease, poverty, ignorance, crime and failure.
We believe that every child should have the chance to grow up in an atmosphere of faith, not of fear.
We believe that the ultimate decency is to help men and never harm men, to lift men and not degrade men, and to respect the dignity of all men as individual human beings.
We the decent people of the world stand for the kind of life that will be good for all of the people, all of the time, everywhere."
Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage to listen to his own goodness.
She said: Concerned about fitness in my 50’s, I enrolled in an aerobics class. To my dismay I walked into a room filled with much younger women and decided to combat my nervousness with humor…
"I’m here to do my postnatal exercises," I told the instructor.
She gave me an appraising look. "How old is your baby?"
"Twenty-three," I replied.
When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
Toward the end of our senior year in high school, we were required to take a CPR course. We used the well known mannequin victim, Resusci-Annie, to practice. Typical of most models, this Resusci-Annie was only a torso to allow for storage in a carrying case.
As instructed, one of my classmates gently shook the doll and asked, "Are you all right?"
He then put his ear over the mannequin’s mouth to listen for breathing. Suddenly he turned to the instructor and exclaimed, "She said she can’t feel her legs!"
"Why are women wearing perfumes that smell like flowers?
Men don’t like flowers. I’ve been wearing a great scent. It’s called New Car Interior."
In days past, children were given names that sound strange to us today — Prudence, Charity, Faith, and so on. One boy was named Amazing, and he resented it all his life. People laughed at him because of it. He told his wife that, when the time came, he did not want his name on his tombstone. When he died, she followed his wishes and put on the tombstone, "Here lies a man who was faithful to his wife for 60 years."
But even in death, he couldn’t escape the curse, because everyone that looked at his tombstone said, "Why, that’s Amazing!"
"Virtue is often the result of insufficient temptation."
I was flying between Maui and Oahu. It’s only a 30 minute flight and so, to save money, I flew with a small airline in a little, twin-engine plane. About eight minutes into the flight the pilot announced that we were going to have to turn back due to some engine trouble.
The nervous passenger I was seated next to turned to me and said, "Oh-h-h m-m-my G-g-god. If we l-l-loose an engine, how f-f-far d-d-do you think the other o-o-one will t-t-take us?"
I told him, "One engine? Oh, I’m sure it’ll take us all the way to the scene of the crash. Hell, we’ll probably make good time too. I bet we beat the paramedics there by at least a half hour!"
It’s as easy as 3.14159265358979323846264338327950…
Mr. Bear and Mr. Rabbit didn’t like each other very much. One day, while walking through the woods, and they came across a golden frog.
They were amazed when the frog talked to them. The golden frog admitted that he didn’t often meet anyone, but, when he did, he always gave them six wishes. He told them that they could have 3 wishes each.
Mr. Bear immediately wished that all the other bears in the forest were females. The frog granted his wish. Mr. Rabbit, after thinking for a while, wished for a crash helmet. One appeared immediately, and he placed it on his head. Mr. Bear was amazed at Mr. Rabbit’s wish, but carried on with his second wish. He wished that all the bears in the neighboring forests were females as well, and the frog granted his wish.
Mr. Rabbit then wished for a motorcycle. It appeared before him, and he climbed on board and started revving the engine. Mr. Bear could not believe it and Complained that Mr. Rabbit had wasted two wishes that he could have had for himself. Shaking his head, Mr. Bear made his final wish, that all the other bears in the world were females as well, leaving him as the only male bear in the world.
The frog replied that it had been done, and they both turned to Mr. Rabbit for his last wish. Mr. Rabbit revved the engine, thought for a second, then said, "I wish that Mr. Bear was gay!" and rode off as fast as he could!
Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.
Recently, a young woman came into my friend John’s insurance office with her newborn twins. John asked her if she ever had any trouble telling them apart.
She gave him a funny look before responding, "No, I haven’t had any problem. This is Benjamin and this is Elizabeth."
"I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit."
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
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The editor is somewhat senile.