De-polarization

Red states vs. blue states.
Left vs. right.
Joe the Plumber vs. Joe the CEO.
Pro-America America vs. …what, exactly?

I can’t stand the polarized, and polarizing, rhetoric of political campaigns.  Unfortunately, it’s nothing new.

There are those who disagree, but I believe there are real choices to be made and real differences between the two presidential candidates, though perhaps not as divergent as we might like.  After November 4 there will be only one president-elect for our one nation which remains, at least for the moment, indivisible.  You wouldn’t know it by the way we talk about each other, though, and I find it shameful and disgusting.

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No News Is Good News?

With rumors (what fills an information vacuum in the absence of, you know, real information) swirling about the possible demise of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, I wonder; who else haven’t we heard from lately?

Yes!  It’s Albert II, King of Belgium.  You know, Belgium, where they actually invented french fries, and about 40% of the population speaks French?  It’s a wonder they weren’t made part of the “Axis of Evil” for these transgressions.  But I digress.

Anyway, apparently there are no onminous advisories to stand by for news reports regarding His Majesty’s well-being.  And, as we now know, pas de nouvelles, bonnes nouvelles.

That is all.

Break’s Over

So things were pretty slow on RA last week, taking a breather from wave after wave of economic and political news, taking time to say goodbye to a friend, and taking time to enjoy the all-too-brief beauty of mid-autumn in Maine.

Over the weekend time was spent working the concession stand at youth soccer games and having to get updates on our eldest daughter’s varsity field hockey playoff game by text message (they lost 2-1), getting kids to and from various events and work, meeting members of next year’s travel softball team, and thinking more about getting ready for winter.  Thinking about it?  Yes.  That means thinking, “Hmm, guess I should put the storm windows down soon” or “Look at all those leaves.  Suppose I should do some raking before I mow the lawn one more time (or before I have to put the snowthrower on the tractor and plow the driveway).”  Those kinds of things.

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Doing the Hard Things

Earlier this year my friend Ed was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. For several months he looked good, stayed active, took the chemo without losing his hair, his appetite, his good humor or, it turns out, his cancer. We talked frequently and got to play golf one more time (though we had hoped it would be more). About four weeks ago he was told the chemo wasn’t working and that he was looking at only another three months or so to live.

Faced with the impending demise of a friend or loved one it is not unusual to engage in denial, to offer an unrelentingly upbeat and, ultimately unrealistic, appraisal of their chances for recovery. We find ourselves in denial, we avoid discussing it, we even avoid them.  It’s hard to face the fact that they are dying, to be confronted with the fact that we also will die, and to talk about how we feel about it.

Not to make more of it than it is, but my friendship with Ed did not come easily. He started out as one of my biggest antagonists a number of years ago, a real pain in the ass. But he listened to me and I listened to him. We talked a lot, often disagreeing, but coming to a place of mutual respect. We worked closely together on a couple of big projects and got to trust each other. And we got to be friends.

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