LOCAL VIEW –Thanksgiving Sorrows and Song–

I grew up in many ways spoiled rotten, but had the silver spoon ripped from my mouth and learned about a harder side of life, which did me good, because it increased my ability to be thankful. Perhaps it is a bit sad that we mortals seem to need to see the dark side in order to appreciate the bright side, but that is how it is. Even from our very beginnings we had to fall on our butts a number of times before we learned to walk, and likely squalled in our frustration and pain many times before we felt the glee of standing and steering our flesh where we wanted it to go.

In John 16, midst words of consolation and comfort, Jesus spelled it out plainly, ” In this world you will have trouble.”  You can’t get plainer than that.

One thing that astounds me, when I look backwards towards people who were middle aged when I was young, is the hell those people went through before I was born, and the amazing hope they retained despite their misery. It is in glaring contrast to many modern youth, who have had everything handed to them on a silver platter, and yet seem without hope.

The farmers in 1928 were unprepared for the economic ruin of the coming stock market crash and Great Depression, and then were swiftly hit by the amazing Climate Change (much worse than anything we are now experiencing) that led to the ruin of the Dust Bowl.

Back in 1984, during my wandering days, I befriended an old Kansas farmer whose family had held on to their farm despite the drought, and the tales he could tell of “dirt storms” and 115°F heat were amazing. The sheer dogged tenacity his father had to display, even while dying of TB, to hold onto his farm, even as neighbors lost theirs, was inspiring.

It was not a happy thing to see neighbors became homeless,  and to not be able to help. 15% of the population of Oklahoma went from being  middle-class home-owners to being “Okies” fleeing to California, where many were reduced to the status of migrant farm-workers living in shacks without running water. Hearing these tales (and rereading “Grapes Of Wrath”) was enough to wake me to the fact my own troubles, (which involved sleeping in my car and being penniless), were small potatoes, for I was still young and free, and not a father with kids.

The Dust Bowl was a huge disaster to what was deemed “The American Way”, and gave everyone a good reason to be bitter, but somehow they held on to hope. Even the farmers who lost everything could hum a song of departure.

During those dark days one out of four workers lacked a job, on any given day. Having a good job, for example as a steel-worker,  might mean you not only supported your own family, but your brother’s and brother-in-law’s. (I worked with such an old steel-worker for a while, as I drifted.) Those who were not so lucky, and had no one to turn to, often drifted, but they held onto hope.

Compare that trauma, faced by the people who lived eighty years ago, with the present trauma faced by young students at college, who recently woke up to find they were on the losing side of an election.

 “Camosy elaborated on the problem in an interview, ‘People who are college educated, especially on hot button issues like life or choice or sex or marriage, are unable to even imagine how someone might have a different opinion,’  he told The Daily Beast. ‘ They’ve never been exposed to a different opinion except as a caricature.'”

So what?  Big deal, right? In every election, someone loses. But for students, apparently it was a big deal.

“At campuses across the country, students begged professors to cancel classes and postpone exams, citing fear, exhaustion, and emotional trauma. Such accommodations were frequently granted: Academics at Columbia University, Yale University, the University of Connecticut, and other institutions told students to take some time to come to terms with what had happened, as if the election of Donald Trump was akin to a natural disaster or terrorist attack.” 

To me it seemed that the young were actually being taught by a better teacher than their professors.  The teacher? It was a thing called Reality. And what was Reality teaching? It was teaching that “shutting down” discussion does not “end” discussion. Just because professors say it is politically incorrect to even dare broach a subject on campus does not mean people off-campus don’t dare talk. And get fed up. And rise up as a majority and elect an individual who is politically incorrect. That is Reality.

Let me put it in a politically incorrect manner, and simply say the professors were the ones who were incorrect. Their judgement wasn’t merely stilted, but wrong. They got an “F”. All they said was “correct”, politically or otherwise, should be regarded with deep suspicion.  All papers they corrected need to be regraded, for what they said was correct was wrong, and what they said was incorrect rose up and overruled them.

It is little wonder the schools are mollycoddling the students. The schools are scared. They are seeking to soothe the enraged response of those they misguided, before it happens. They are well aware the salary they have earned may be measured in white-hot rage. After all, the students have had to accept a debt as large as a mortgage for a house, even to attend their classes, and now the young are going to slowly awake to the fact the teachers didn’t know diddlysquat, and all the money youth spent was spent on impostors. Little wonder teachers are stressing that students need to stay calm, and join therapy groups, and pat puppies. If the students don’t stay calm, and rise in rage, the teachers might well see what Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” brought to the colleges of China, where nearly every professor experienced a dramatic shortening of tenure.

Of course, being leftists, they are well aware college professors in China wound up as serfs, knee deep in mud, planting rice until they collapsed of exhaustion.  They know that, under Pol Pot, anyone in Cambodia with a writer’s callus on their middle finger was promptly executed. However they always assumed that it was other educated people, and not they themselves, that the left considered “the problem”, and deemed worth “purging”. Therefore they accepted the idea you could ostracize other thinkers as being “politically incorrect”, and never think past that present tense, and never see that a day might dawn when students might rise in wrath, and take aim at not “others”, but at you.

I can think of few things less like the spirit of the holiday of Thanksgiving than students being so non-thankful that they kill their teachers.  However, in a way, that is what the left teaches. They scorn time-tested values as being “old fashioned”. Is that not mocking elders and the lessons of the past? Did they not understand they themselves are not young, and are “of the past”, and a day may come when they themselves might face the very scorn they now call “politically correct”?

Fortunately the majority of Americans are not “politically correct”. The last election proved this. Therefore what happened in China and Cambodia likely will not happen here. We will respect our elders, in our own way, even if we refuse to fund the professors who say that respecting elders is old-fashioned.  (It is interesting to note that “respecting oldsters” is suddenly acceptable, when such professors turn to the subjects of their own tenure and pensions.)

The only thing that could over-rule America’s good fortune would be an attempt to over-rule the will of the people and the results of the election. Professors would need to simply  state, “The public does not know what is good for it”, and institute a dictatorship. This is unlikely to happen, as the students they have trained would likely be too inept to make a good army. I think (and pray) that America is more likely to accept the election results, and to muddle through.

Furthermore, some interesting music will be made by people coming to terms with the current crisis. I am especially interested in the songs the young will make, as they wrestle with the mess their professors stirred up. I bet that, despite the seemingly hopeless quicksand professors have placed our young in, you will hear hope in their songs, just as the voice of hope sung from the seemingly hopeless Dust Bowl and Great Depression.

I am always amazed by such music, whether it occurred 80 years ago or it occurs today. It is like the “Whos of Whoville” singing even though the Grinch stole Christmas. It is a thing utterly inspiring, and beyond the ken of both money-grubbing Capitalists and murderous Communists.  It is the power of the peon, and it is the reason the Founding Fathers of this nation gave the peon the same single vote it gave to billionaires and professors.

Politics tends to be a noisome landscape as devoid of new, refreshing music as a bank,  and therefore there is something beyond money and political correctness in the wellsprings of music. It will be there even if the left overrules democracy and such music becomes the swansong of a dying nation.  It will migrate to some other land if it has to, for it is a hope greater than we are. And I thought I heard this music, like a distant choir in a gale, within the political incorrectness of the last election’s results.

I am so thankful, this Thanksgiving, for that music.

Despite all difficulties, the people still sing.



(Note:  Above quotes [in red] were from an article in The Daily Beast:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/16/elite-campuses-offer-students-coloring-books-puppies-to-get-over-trump.html  )


9 thoughts on “LOCAL VIEW –Thanksgiving Sorrows and Song–

  1. “Therefore having finished my Course, when as I knew nothing that was sound, nothing that was true, I refused the Title of Master of Arts, being unwilling that Professors should play the fool with me, that they should declare me Master of the seven Arts, who was not yet a Scholar. Therefore, I seeking truth, and knowledge, but not their appearance, withdrew myself from the Schooles.”

    This is from the autobiography of J B van Helmont, generally regarded as the father of modern medicine and chemistry.

    • I was not familiar with the life of Helmont, creator of the word “gas.” Thanks for steering me to his dim footprints upon the highways of time.

      Apparently one of the most important aspects of knowing is the admission we don’t.

      Conversely, the higher we lift our nose the lower our brain sinks.

      So much for those who proudly brag and bray about “settled science.”

  2. The biographical essay,

    Johannes Baptista van Helmont
    Alchemist, Physician and Philosopher

    by H. Stanley Redgrove


    (obtainable as a download from “Forgotten Books”)

    is of interest.

    • Thanks. Now I just need to find the time. Do you know of any grants for lazy dudes who would rather sit around thinking and dreaming than work? I need about three of them.

      • Use one of those “test to speech” programs, Caleb, and instead of “whistle while you work,” listen while you work. No grants needed.

      • That was supposed to be “text to speech,” not test to speech. That last sounds more like a tin ear.

  3. The Stock Market gives out grants all the time. Mark Twain made the secret freely available:

    To paraphrase:

    “You buy a stock.
    You sell when it goes up.
    If it doesn’t go up, you don’t buy it in the first place.”

    • One interesting story about Mark Twain involves when he was a young reporter in one of those boom towns that sprang up in the American west, where a mine had struck it rich. He had all sorts of stocks in local silver mines and the stocks rose rapidly, until he was quite rich. Then disaster struck, as the biggest mine hit the end of the silver-rich ore. Mark didn’t get the news, because he was out of town, and the next thing he knew he was looking in the San Francisco papers and thought there must be a typo, for his stock was worthless. He went from very rich to very poor overnight, as did many in such boom towns. Real estate rapidly became worthless, and the towns became ghost towns. Therefore he did know a fair amount about the fickle nature of stocks.

      I think he tells this tale in “Roughing It”.

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