Paco, the Man

Posted: November 30, 2017 in Life's Design
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I can be ferocious if I want to.

I ran across a note in my file from August 2013. Although it was written over four years ago, there is an uncanny aspect to its application for today and may affect the design of our lives tomorrow. In light of today’s climate in almost any segment of American society—politics, entertainment, and religion to name three—there is a pervasive attitude pregnant with outsized self-importance. This shaded truth is explained as an alternate reality as though one phenomena can have more than one factually based truth. Claiming something to be true and factual when it is only my interpretation is claiming authority I don’t possess.

Take religion for example, we’ll look at others in a moment. Religious constructs are, at best, faith statements. Jewish Scripture begins with “In the beginning, God.” That is a faith statement, which, by the way, I believe. Just because I believe it, however, doesn’t make it any more than a statement of my faith. Self-appointed spokesmen for God need to be careful.

Posturing is exactly that, posturing, which is a way of behaving that conveys a certain impression, which may or may not be factual and true.

In August 2013, I wrote in my journal: “My dog Paco and I took a little walk after I returned home from the farewell luncheon for Dr. Warren Hoffman, my pastor at Third Baptist Church for the last eight years, and his wife Laura. (Dr. Hoffman has been called to the pastorate of the First Baptist Church, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.) We stopped at the Washington Avenue Post. I got a mixed berry smoothie and Poco got a treat.

While I waited for my drink, Paco sniffed around, sat down patiently, got up and looked around the counter, came back and sat down, sniffed other shoppers hands when offered but backed away from their attempts at petting. After my drink was made, we went outside where I sat in the shade of the table umbrella and fastened Paco’s leash to the chair leg. I took turns reading my library book, Robert Bausch’s On the Way Home, and watching the Avenue. 

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What an urvban dog does. Enjoys coffee shop patios.

Paco became impatient about thirty minutes later. So, since I was through with my smoothie, I gathered my book and the empty cup, untangled Paco’s leash from multiple chair legs and started off down the walk toward home.

We passed the Side Bar, next to the Post, where people were sitting around tables with umbrellas. One very large dog and another smaller one were with them. The large one came out when Paco came by. The dog was not on a leash. Paco had already passed when he sensed a sniff on his rear and turned around. The large dog and Paco began the usual dog ritual of introduction. This dog was so large that Paco could easily walk under him without touching his tummy. The big dog wanted to play. For some reason, Paco suddenly interpreted something the large dog was doing in a way he didn’t like and lunged, rather viciously, for the dog’s throat. By that time, the other dog’s owner had his hand on the dog’s collar and I pulled Paco away with the leash. No damage done by either dog. Paco was still growling as I scolded him, ‘Settle.’ I said, ‘Let’s go.’  He turned around and, as we started on down the sidewalk, looked up at me as if to say, ‘I showed him.’ Then, as I walked on, he trotted by my side with his head held high and never looked back. Paco’s the man.”

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Another thing an urban dog does. He waits for he elevator.

Often, brash exclamations from people whose ballooned self-importance obscures the latent power they confront places them in a weakened position to which they are completely unaware or flatly deny. This is almost sanctimonious. “I can do this and get away with it even if it is illegal or immoral. Believe me. I am.”

We have a year of little progress in America where many people who want to either conserve the present or take us back in history to a time yet to be defined, a time when we were a great nation as though we are not great today.

The tragedy is that we may not be great tomorrow. Ambassador Dana Shell Smith, the ambassador to Qatar, who recently resigned, said, “These people either do not believe the U.S. Should be a world leader, or they’re utterly incompetent,” as she reflected on the gutting of the State Department leaving it without an assistant secretary for East Asia or an ambassador for South Korea; secretaries for Far Eastern affairs or ambassadors to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt; and assistant secretary for African affairs while the department confronts the departure of Mugabe from Zimbabwe.

“I can do this. I can get away with it. I’m bigger than he thinks I am,” Paco must have thought

Another example is the current effort to push through, with little debate a tax bill that is a catchall legislative concoction with the potential of reshaping huge chunks of American life for years to come. Here is just a little of how that picture might look if this bill passes:

  • States and local governments will be limited in their ability to levy their own taxes.
  • Much less taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans with little relief for the middle and low income population. There’s no guarantee that this windfall will pass down in higher wages for people below the wealthy class. This pass-down experiment hasn’t been proven.
  • Rules mandating cuts to Medicare could be triggered in this bill, which may well result in some 13 million people (including me) losing health care. Insurance premiums are also expected to rise by 10 percent.
  • Also included are provisions ending the deductibility of tuition waivers for graduate students, repealing the deduction for interest paid on student loans, and taxing university endowments, which subsidize students from lower-income families.

The only one who claims the title “I AM” is God according to ancient Jewish Scripture (Exodus 3:14). Religion, politics, education, entertainment, leaders in any segment of society must not claim supersized egos that declare “I am” and swagger on down the sidewalk not looking back as though their barking and growling settled all issues under and even outside their purview when the task is much larger than they are.

With ferocious barks and an inflated self-concept, Paco may lunge at a much larger dog. I don’t want to find out what might happen if he actually drew blood and discovers his self-image doesn’t match reality.

But WE may have to. The design of our lives will be affected.

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