THE GREAT INDECENCY

June 18, 2018

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

     This imperfect experiment called America, conceived in great, precipice-style argument by the Framers, not fully realized as to intent and potential, nevertheless has endured. Winston Churchill, the half-American: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

     Therefore, citizens, accept the imperfection while eying the winter of our discontent, that the present time of unhappiness can and must pass. In particular, reject the great indecency of this moment because it is not American, not that of most of the republic anyway, but a re-emerging of our demonstrated racism by some, hatred by some, prejudice by some, violence by some, evil act by some. All such horror has been repudiated by those of decency.

     Slavery was part of the great indecency. “Irish Need Not Apply” was, too. So was jailing women urging suffrage. And the internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry. And, now, the caging of very young children, torn from the love and protection of their illegal immigrant mothers.

     That the United States is currently “led” by a person who tweets falsehood, who encourages discord, who uses the bully pulpit as a Mussolini balcony, is the greatest indecency.

     This man does not deserve to champion Republican Party views, to be successor to presidents who have led the nation in war and peace. Were he the local school principal, the town attorney, CEO of a corporation or on the school board, his resignation or ouster would already have occurred.

     Those who support him, in the name of Republican or conservative or Tea Party or nationalistic “values,” prostitute those tenets. They close their eyes and kiss the derriere, hoping for a ride on the victory wagon while not realizing what a large piece of their soul they have sullied.

     Until we in this imperfect America strongly insist on the end of this present indecency, when, according to our history we should know better, until we again walk on the rut-filled path to progress toward the Framers’ goals, we are complicit. 

Those caged children’s tears are staining our decency.

     

     

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. Contact him via ahgunther@yahoo.com

NEVER CAST A STONE …

June 11, 2018

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

ahgunther@yahoo.com

 

     There is, in depression, a numbness, the nerve endings dulled by a sinisterly administered anesthetic. There is a cloud about you, as if you are in a daze. Little excites you, and if you have the energy to get up, it is the tasks of the day — brushing teeth, getting dressed, doing this and that until nightfall — that babies you along, pushes one foot in front of another. You truly “exist” not in this world or any other, but in a world of detachment. You seem without hope.

I know, I was there in my mid-40s, for two solid years and steps back for some years after. Job success (as a newspaperman), two wonderful sons, a loving and giving wife, family, friends — all kept me from falling away though they never knew it. 

     I was fortunate in that my depression was milder than most, and I could at times see rays of light toward the end of my tunnel.

As an individual, I am too self-sufficient, and I do not advertise my hurt. That locks people — loved ones — out. But it is also protective. I figure that I will mend myself so I can give to them. I prefer to give than take, which, oddly enough, is sometimes selfish. But it is me.

     “Me” was difficult to find in my depression. What had excited me about living was kept at bay by the cloud, and it was only the structure of work, with my writing coming easily, and my continuing ability to get basic tasks done at home, for the family, for my aging parents, that got me from one day to the next.

     That and a belief that there was a helper, an angel next to me. In those several moments when I thought I might be leaving, I reached out and squeezed air, though it was not that at all. Kept me alive.

     Slowly, as the months progressed, the cloud dispelled, a smile came at times, a re-invigoration developed, and living resumed. Though there were occasional pulls to darkness, I never again felt listless in a breathing body. 

     Though depression passed for me without seeing a doctor, without medication, without any consultation beyond squeezing that angel’s hand, that was my circumstance. Others similarly affected might do well seeking professional care. In fact, maybe most should.

     Having survived depression, which came as a ship in enveloping fog, not because I lost a job, or money or family, my thought is that some loss or addition in brain chemistry brought it about.

     We know so little about depression, about the brain’s chemical make-up. There is not enough research. Drugs, which make pharmaceutical companies obscenely rich, are not the answer, given the side effects. There has to be an understanding of nature, of how the body works and why it is assaulted.

     Society must also understand that suicide is not the coward’s way out but an act in a feeling of utter hopelessness. Hopelessness that somehow we must see and address. Never cast a stone here. We must note our fellow human’s pain and be that angel who offers a squeezing hand. It will save lives that can then thrive.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman. Contact: ahgunther@yahoo.com 

‘MY KIND OF JOINT’

By Arthur H. Gunther III

thecolumnrule.com

BETHESDA, Md. — Sometimes you have to leave home to go home again. That was the case on my last day, four days later, in this ever-expanding D.C. suburb. Government must water even the weeds here, so rapidly rise the office buildings, homes and retail space.

A bit too much for a homegrown fellow blessed with a semi-rural upbringing in Rockland County, N.Y., itself now in fast-track growth.

I was in Bethesda because No. 2 son, Andrew Edward, is relocating with Army physician wife Patricia and their two daughters from a posting in San Antonio. The replacement house requires a new kitchen, and your author has made enough home-improvement mistakes to qualify as installation/repairman. So, I spent four days doing electrical, plumbing, carpentry after a 259-mile trip that challenged my aging driving skills. Alone in the car at 3:30 a.m., God was my co-pilot.

Andrew and I managed well enough, and a considerable sum was saved. He is nearing the new kitchen.

Since we were in effect two bachelors, and there are no cooking facilities, we ate out, in places ranging from way too expensive to poor-quality offering to “home again.”

I will focus on the Tastee Diner, a 24-hour joint proud to call itself that, in downtown Bethesda.

Just wonderful. The grill guy cooks your order in front of you. It gets to the table pronto, with no stop under heat lamps until it can travel.

Old-fashioned, solid breakfast food, with coffee refilled by a “Hi, Hon” waitress. She knew the locals, of course. In fact, she probably has a degree in human psychology, earned on the job.

I thought I was back at Tiny’s Diner in the Spring Valley of my 1950’s youth, or at Billy Hogan’s or Sparky’s.

Nothing fancy. Everything reassuring. I was home again. Taxpayer-supported government, expanding outward from D.C., may be in the menu nationally, but the Tastee, serving Americana since 1935, has never gotten too big for its britches.

My kind of joint.

The writer is a retired newspaperman. ahgunther@Yahoo.com