Sunday, July 14, 2013

764. On activism, or "Who is my neighbor?, He who showed mercy."

    The readings today were Saint Luke's version of the Good Samaritan story which asks "Who is our neighbor?" and answers "He who showed mercy." followed by Jesus's prompt to "Go and do likewise." Doing likewise is different things for different people.

    Much to the chagrin of several of my liberal-activist friends, I'm not the ideal activist. The truth is I'm not much of an activist at all. I have firm beliefs and convictions and other than trying to get people to vote for one candidate over another (because I think she or he better represents my beliefs and convictions), you will not find me in the front rows of protests or the front pews at church. I stand or sit in the back, content with my beliefs, in the fervent hope that others will see the wrongs of their beliefs and after an epiphany come to agree with me. I know it isn't very forceful at all.
    Honestly, I'm tolerant. Keep in mind, tolerance doesn't equal acceptance, but I am tolerant. Again, tolerance doesn't equal acceptance. So when asked to pray for a limited group as I was this morning when a friend specifically requested prayers for my Jewish and atheist friends (she is one of both), I simply say "yes I will do that."  What I admittedly don't do (and I think this is what some would wish I did) is say "why be so exclusive?"
    I accept their vibes and am hopeful they accept mine. And I will work to try to elect politicians who think more my way than theirs. So, I'm not an evangelizer nor am I an activist. But I am a believer. 
    There is a poem, My Philosophy, by James Whitcomb Riley, which my uncle Bob Lewis (1918-2008) had me memorize when I was eight years old. It explains a lot of my political temperament, even to this day. Here is the poem:
    by James Whitcomb Riley.

    I ain't, ner don't p'tend to be,
    Much posted on philosofy;
    But thare is times, when all alone,
    I work out idees of my own.
    And of these same thare is a few
    I'd like to jest refer to you--
    Pervidin' that you don't object
    To listen clos't and rickollect.

    I allus argy that a man
    Who does about the best he can
    Is plenty good enugh to suit
    This lower mundane institute--
    No matter ef his daily walk
    Is subject fer his neghbor's talk,
    And critic-minds of ev'ry whim
    Jest all git up and go fer him!

    I knowed a feller onc't that had
    The yeller-janders mighty bad,--
    And each and ev'ry friend he'd meet
    Would stop and give him some receet
    Fer cuorin' of 'em. But he'd say
    He kindo' thought they'd go away
    Without no medicin', and boast
    That he'd git well without one doste.

    He kep' a-yellerin' on--and they
    Perdictin' that he'd die some day
    Before he knowed it! Tuck his bed,
    The feller did, and lost his head,
    And wundered in his mind a spell--
    Then rallied, and, at last, got well;
    But ev'ry friend that said he'd die
    Went back on him eternally!

    Its natchurl enugh, I guess,
    When some gits more and some gits less,
    Fer them-uns on the slimmest side
    To claim it ain't a fare divide;
    And I've knowed some to lay and wait,
    And git up soon, and set up late,
    To ketch some feller they could hate
    Fer goin' at a faster gait.

    The signs is bad when folks commence
    A-findin' fault with Providence,
    And balkin' 'cause the earth don't shake
    At ev'ry prancin' step they take.
    No man is grate tel he can see
    How less than little he would be
    Ef stripped to self, and stark and bare
    He hung his sign out anywhare.

    My doctern is to lay aside
    Contensions, and be satisfied:
    Jest do your best, and praise er blame
    That follers that, counts jest the same.
    I've allus noticed grate success
    Is mixed with troubles, more er less,
    And it's the man who does the best
    That gits more kicks than all the rest.
    By the way, to loyal readers of the blog, this isn't the first time this poem have been cited herein.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.