Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ups and Downs and . . .

In the early 1970s I was standing in an elevator in an older hotel in Boston when the opportunity to make one of my corny remarks presented itself. The elevator was crowded and I just couldn't resist saying to the wise old operator, "This elevator has its ups and downs." There was a mild tittering among the elevator occupants, a much more subdued response than I'd hoped for when the lady looked at me and responded, "Yes, and plenty of jerks in between." Needless to say, she got the laughs I was looking for and quite rightly so. But my continuing failure to properly tell a joke is not why I am telling this story. Standing back and looking at the large picture, it is obvious that life is, indeed, a series of ups and down, backs and forths, sides to sides and 'tos and fros'. I am searching in my mind for the correct mathematical expression of this phenomenon; for every reaction there is an opposite and equal reaction, something like that. There are untold numbers of examples that can be given to characterize this continuous process at the personal, local, national or international levels.

We are currently in the midst of two major pendulum shifts which reflect this principle. The first is the economic situation. The economists refer to such an event as a "correction." Parenthetically, I can't understand why calling it a correction doesn't make me feel any better when I look at the numbers in my account. The second event is the quantum shift in the national political landscape that is likely to result from the November 4 election. From all indications, we will have a Democratic president and Congress with a real possibility of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Regardless of political persuasion I expect that every one cannot help but experience a deep sense of relief that the Bush imbroglio is nearly a thing of the past. Things are broken in the fabric of our financial and governmental institutions. Changes do need to be made. The biggest danger and the biggest challenge in both arenas is not to over-correct. If four years from now finds us in the throes of Democratic greed and mistakes resulting from the tendency to take unchecked power and turn planned good deeds into excesses like pigs eating at a trough, then all will have been for naught. I, for one, will be content if the lesson of 2008 restores the country to civility, moderation in all things and charitable thoughts to all, including those son of a bitches who still think Bush is the nearest thing to Jesus. Oops, there I go again, being a jerk.

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