We just finished a local election and however you voted, you were on the right side for exercising your right and responsibility to express your opinion with the ballot. Our local issues were not that controversial. Most of the races were contended, as they should be and a couple of the propositions had definite pros and cons but all things considered, a friendly contest, although we DID have poll watchers at some of the Kenai Precincts (that hotbed of disquiet and craziness).
I can think of issues that DO divide the community. Fish allocation comes to mind, as well as Conservation versus Preservation (That’s “Pebble or Not” to those of us on the Fringe). I am sooo tired of politicians who act like 14-year-old boys just elected president of the class and of others who project “Hey, I’m the BMOC here. Who do you think YOU are?” I’ve been out of high school too long. I wish we could lock them all in the same room and let them pout in the corner until they learn to spell N-E-G-O-T-I-A-T-E. Honest discussion and the ballot box is the best way to keep the house (and the Senate) in order.
There are two types of people in my world: those who obsess over housecleaning and those who have something better to do. I don’t begrudge the Spic and Spanners their security blankets of furniture polish and neatly stacked book cases as long as they allow me to relax with my dusty windowsills and cluttered coffee table.
I am not completely indifferent to the necessity of a well ordered home. I do the dishes regularly, change the sheets once a week (whether they need it or not!) and sweep the floor every morning ... well, sometimes it is after lunch, but you know what I mean. These little amenities were inscribed in bronze on my psyche by my mother who belonged to a sub-set of the above types: She was compulsive about housework because she didn’t want to miss something better when it came along. She impressed on me that there are some things that have to be done for health and prosperity, other housecleaning can be left to catch as catch can. What jobs fall into which category may depend on interpretation but generally, if it’s dirty, wash it; if it’s clutter, push it under something.
One of my friends belongs in the “other” group. We have granddaughters about the same age and one early spring day I asked her to go with me and take the girls to find pussy willows. She couldn’t go because she had to wash and iron her curtains and clean the mini-blinds. In the first place, if God had intended us to IRON curtains he would never have invented polyester, and secondly, a little dust on the mini-blinds won’t show. Anyway I took the girls. While we were driving, my friend’s granddaughter commented “Grandma always cleans house like she’s going to war.”
My granddaughter replied, “My Grandma is more of the ‘give peace a chance’ type.” Who says kids don’t listen to the news? But it made me think:
Political differences seem to bring out the worst in all of us. Instead of allowing each other our own security blankets — to believe and think as our conscience dictates — we vilify anyone who doesn’t agree with our position. Not exactly what the constitutional philosophy of tolerance has taught us to practice. Many long-time friendships and alliances have suffered irreparable damage because of the unrelenting attitude of “I’m Right! You’re Wrong!” When one group stands on a corner waving fishing gear they automatically give another group the right to stand on the opposite corner wearing a miner’s hat. Exercise of that right, guaranteed by the First Amendment, costs us the responsibility to allow another the same right.
In the past, the fanatics among us chanted “WAR! WAR! WAR!” apparently forgetting that “Discretion is the Better part of Valor.” The other side waved signs demonizing those who participated in said battle, not remembering that the few are charged with protecting the many. It is not unrealistic to believe that anyone is his right mind is against war. However, it is also correct to assume that nearly everyone, if presented with the necessity, would fight to defend home and family. A meeting of the minds that everyone should find acceptable. But these days, agreeing to disagree seems beyond the realm of possibility.
We need to practice the compulsive housekeeper syndrome: Do what you need to do in case something better comes along. If the curtains don’t get ironed, the world won’t end but we need to scrub the bathroom often and well to keep our house in order. I sweep the floor every morning, (well, everyday) because I want to go out and play with a clear conscience. If we all hold to our values while remembering our responsibilities maybe we can finally return to being a country united in philosophy and goals.
And still take the granddaughters to find the pussy willows.
Virginia Walters lives in Kenai.