Live and learn

Photo by Maik Garbade on Unsplash

The person with burnt fingers asks for tongs.” Samoan proverb

There’s one thing for sure you can say about Americans: no two are exactly alike. (If after that line you expect me to drop in a political “snowflake” joke, don’t worry. I’ll leave that up to opinion writers who waste their words with name-calling.)

Back to the topic at hand: all you have to do is look around and you’ll spot the differences. We are individuals with unique talents. Each of us has strengths in certain skills but less so in others.  

Success is measured in knowing how to get the job done right, usually with the help and expertise of others. Let’s be honest: you and I can’t do everything. So we use our God-given wisdom to find the right people for the right job… even though sometimes we make hiring mistakes.


A few decades ago, country singer Hank Williams Jr had a major hit with the song “A Country Boy Can Survive.” In the lyrics, the narrator makes it clear that he doesn’t care for urban areas, stating various ways that life in the “little towns all around this land” is preferable. He’s right, of course, IF you only look at it from the point of view of someone born and raised in a rural area. Folks who spend their entire lives in city environments would have the same opinion about their homes while looking down their noses at those in the country. 

It’s all about perspective. What you see and what you do determines how you feel about those whose lives are markedly different. That’s okay, as long as you remember to maintain respect for others despite those differences. And that’s where we fall short.

Williams’ song lists a few ways that people living in rural areas are superior, needing little or nothing from their opposites. Hunting and fishing are two such points, reflected in the lyric, “We can skin a buck and run a trotline, and a country boy can survive.” Those are very practical skills, no question, but they are only useful in areas where wild game and open waters are available. Take that guy and plop him down in the middle of Times Square and he’d probably wander for hours just trying to find a decent cup of coffee. 

The lesson is simple: you may be a genius in one way and a hopeless amateur in another. Smart people know how to tell the difference. I’ve made the point before that we need to trust those who have taken the time to be knowledgeable and experienced in their perspective fields. You don’t become an expert overnight, and you certainly can’t be considered an authority figure without first developing those skills.

Too bad our president doesn’t understand that.

Least likely to succeed

He has zero medical education, so he doesn’t know more than the doctors. He has no scientific training, so he doesn’t know more than the scientists. He has no military experience, so he doesn’t know more than the generals. But in each case, he brags otherwise.

He’s a paper tiger, trying to convince his followers that he’s smart and powerful when in reality he’s ineffectual. He’s all hammer and no nail, able to make a lot of noise but has nothing to show for it. 

America elected him because they bought the empty promises (and because of an antiquated, nonsensical system that gave the grand prize to the second place finisher). What did he give us? There’s no wall… not that there was going to be one anyway. There’s no Republican health care plan…despite promises going back over ten years. America’s economy has certainly not grown at least four percent per year, another windbag promise. And that $4000 annual pay raise that the average American would receive as a result of the huge tax cuts for the very wealthy? That didn’t trickle down, did it?

Look, all presidents make promises and can’t deliver on every single one. But it’s fair to say that they are able to show a few successes. Just about the only thing Mr. Trump has managed to do is funnel government money into his golf and hotel properties. In that, he’s done gangbusters.

(And I thought he said he’d be too busy to golf. Another broken promise.)

Underachiever in Chief

I’ll say this about the president: he did a great job selling an inferior product. He had nothing to offer but a lot of bells and whistles, yet he managed to convince millions of Americans to hire him for a job that he didn’t want and couldn’t perform.

By electing Trump, America played with fire and got its fingers burnt. This time, let’s turn the job over to someone who won’t send everything up in flames.

(Originally published in the October 1, 2020 edition of the Morrisons Cove Herald.)


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