Thursday, October 22, 2020

Getting Political

"I know you care and are concerned,"

It had been months into the pandemic, which meant, among many other things, that I hadn't seen my singing teacher for, well, months ... and then I got an email from him. With some reflection, I figured he was just buttering me up; but in real time I felt flattered. His opening sentence read, "In-part inspired by you, and especially your periodic petitions, Jane and I are getting political." 
"Inspired by me ... " I thought. "I wonder what I've done." And then, "Political? What ... ?" 
The most political thing he and I had ever done was share a mutual distaste for the current state of our politics, especially at the National Level, particularly at what was happening in the Trump White House. His very next sentence got to the heart of the matter. "I’m writing to ask if you’d like to join an effort to flip theMinnesota Senate in the election this November.
Our state government is a bicameral government ... that is, like the US government, it has two legislative chambers: a Senate and a House. At the time, both the governor and the House majority belonged to the Democratic Party. The Senate majority was Republican, with a majority leader that seems to behave much like Kentucky US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell behaves ... obstructionist. I had long thought the Republican Party, especially when configured like this, was the party of 'no.' And it's not just that it had said 'no' so often; it seemed to me it generally failed to even talk about important issues in what I thought was good faith. Issues such as raising the minimum wage, paid family and medical leave, gun proliferation and gun violence prevention, significant reform of the policing function. These, it seemed to me, were non-starters for Republicans. I was eager to change something about this, and changing the party in power in the Senate seemed like a good course of action. 
I was immediately interested. 
Until I read the plan.
Volunteers are signing up, and each volunteer urges others to join. When many friends are on board, we'll participate in a Zoom training, learning to make cold telephone calls, and we'll each be given scores of potential swing voters to call. 
I had been reaching for my checkbook when two phrases in the plan reached out and throttled me: cold telephone calls and voters to call. My armpits moistened; sweat beads rolled down my brow. 
Although most of my friends and my wife offer strong dissent about the premise, I consider myself shy.  I believe that I manage it well.  And, though I know I can talk to people, even strangers on the right occasion, I enjoy talking politics to almost nobody and doing so with strangers, on a cold telephone call, brews a perfect storm of discomfort ... blows me way out of my comfort zone. 
His email continued, acknowledging that the prospect of cold-calling might be daunting ( yuh ... you think? ), admitting that he dreads it, and saying he takes some solace that, in combination with many others, his effort just might make a difference, In closing, he threw me a bone: "I know you care and are concerned," whatever I decide about participating.
A friend of mine once said, "If you want to know what God's will is for you, answer your phone." I thought reading this email was very close to doing that, and I was nearly disconsolate that I had done so. The email invited me to jump outside my comfort zone, in support of a cause I seriously believed in. As such, it demanded serious consideration, which meant much thought and prayer. And, I thought, some time for me to come to terms with the affirmative answer I knew, deep in my heart, I'd give.
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Saturday, October 3, 2020

Birthday Poem and a Response

My wife, Ellie, and I have become good friends of Ellie's most recent piano teacher, Beatrice. Both Beatrice and I have dabbled in poetry, in various forms. For my birthday, she wrote me a cinquain poem as follows:


Walter -
A loving soul
Generous in spirit,
listens to all with compassion.
We love.

Needless to say ( I imagine ) I blushed and felt honored. I responded with a thank-you note and a poem in response:

Bea is tough on all

Quite the piano teacher

Warm and loving, too.

I believe this was an appropriate response.

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