The Old Story

     Many people, in fact none, have asked me, “Bob, when are you going to tell us your favorite story about the Greek politician Alcibiades?”
     So here it is.
     Alcibiades walked up to a schoolteacher one day and asked if he could borrow a book by Homer.
     The teacher said he didn’t have anything by Homer.
     So Alcibiades punched him.
     Isn’t that great?
     We need more politicians like Alcibiades.
     Politics these days consists mostly of saying horrible things about one’s political opponents – but never telling a voter anything that might make him upset – unless it’s what will happen if the other guy is elected.
     (Actually, politics these days consists mostly of snorting up money like an addict snorts cocaine through his four nose holes. I mean aside from that.)
     So here we have Alcibiades – or here we had him, 2,400 years ago – treating a voter, a professional man, with the respect he deserved. Which was none.
     When’s the last time a prominent U.S. politician told us something we didn’t want to hear?
     Walter Mondale in 1984, when he said he would raise our taxes, and so would his opponent, Ronald Reagan. Reagan, of course, wiped the floor with Mondale, and then raised taxes.
     That’s 30 years – an entire generation – without a politician of national stature telling us an unpleasant truth. Excuse me – without a successful politician of national stature doing it.
     No wonder our country’s a mess. And we can’t blame the politicians for it. We’ve became a nation of spoiled babies.
     Want to know how to fix our supposedly “failing” schools?
     Quit buying video games for your kids and buy them some damn books. Buy yourself a book and read it in front of your kids. Turn off the damn TV.
     Want to pay less in taxes? Then accept lousy highways, unclean drinking water, corrupt underpaid cops, crumbling schools, no libraries, unsafe airlines and cars, contaminated food, unsanitary hospitals, shortages of medicine and only as much law and liberty as you can afford.
     Do you hate abortion? Don’t have one.
     Do you dislike people of other races, religions and nationalities, who speak a language other than English? Who live and work right next door?
     Try this: Treat them like human beings, the way you’d like them to treat you. It couldn’t hurt and it might help.
     Finally – and this may be the only piece of wisdom I’ve picked up in my life – Never seek advice from an unhappy person.
     Sure, our country has problems. Of course Congress is corrupted by money – so are the Republican and Democratic parties, and so is the Supreme Court. So were Caesar and Alcibiades.
     But venomous people with hate in their hearts never have fixed anything, and never will. Take a look at the U.S. political landscape today. It’s a bunch of “leaders” attacking one another with bile.
     How many leaders have we who have the brass to look a voter in the eye, and smile, and say, “Sorry, you’re wrong.”
     None.
     Martin Luther King did it. He told most of our country, “Sorry, you’re wrong,” but he did it without bile, without bitterness. He did it with love in his heart.
     So. Don’t vote for venomous, unhappy people, no matter what party they claim to belong to.
     It can’t hurt and it might help.

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