Archive for June 2010

America functions with a careful balance on a couple of ideas. One is majority rule. The other is checks/balances on power. Controls are in place specifically to prevent oppression of minority groups.  Always get suspicious when you hear someone complain about "the will of the majority" being thwarted. Does such a majority know what it's like to be on the other side?  I don't believe we've advanced as far in race relations as some Americans might suggest.

Different Drummer: Carlton Douglas Ridenhour

My father has been gone for close to two decades now. I miss him more than I ever have. I'm still not yet older than he was when he died, and I sense that his life experience could inform me greatly today.  Some sociologists believe that the absence of dads is a big factor in the problems we are facing. There may be many things that our children, collectively, are not hearing from fathers. Not just hard words, either; the list surely includes laughter.

Different Drummer: Jacques Clouseau

When it comes to drugs and drug policies, we'd better say much more than just "no."  In many ways, the "just say no" campaign invested its power in the simplicity of ignorance. After all, if you merely abstain then you never have to understand what you are abstaining from. Or do you?  Education is crucial because knowledge is the only way to avoid being duped ... or doped.

Different Drummer: Steven D. Levitt

"You sounded so upset. I had to come over," Valerie said.

Peter nodded and invited her in.

"Where's Susie?"

"She's down. Fell asleep before I called you, in fact."

"What's wrong?"

"It's Melanie."

"Pete ... Pete," she said, imploringly.

"I don't blame you for thinking that I should have put all this behind me months ago."

Valerie ran her hand through the hair above his neck and started rubbing. "More like weeks, Peter. Seven months isn't forever, you know. You are overcoming quite a lot."

"It's not so much her death, though."

"Is it your boy, then? Um ... um. ..."

"Clint. We were going to call him Clint."

"Susie's all right?"

"Yeah. She's doing better than I am."

"So, is it Clint?"


Peter started crying. He fought the initial teardrops, but soon began sobbing. Valerie dropped her coat and hugged Peter closely.

"You're going to have to say it," she told him softly, "because I don't know what's wrong."

"I'm not sure," he said, fighting to regain his composure. "I'm not so sure I know either."

Valerie waited quietly.

"I was thinking about the house today, comparing taxes from this year to last and adjusting for the insurance," he said.

"So, what's wrong?"

"Little things. It's just a bunch of little things."

Peter followed Valerie to the kitchen. She poured him a glass of water and fumbled in her purse for a tissue.

"I haven't been happy at work lately. Maybe it's just me. But I wasn't happy with the way the board handled my leave. Plus, I'm not feeling the same spark -- not there, not anywhere."

"And the house?"

"Part of me feels like it might be time to, I don't know, move on. Thirty-four is not too old to change career directions. Finances may not be this secure next year. Susie starts school in just over a year. There are lots of good reasons to shift gears, cash in the house, try to move away from my problems, maybe move into some new problems."

"How far away?"

Peter smiled. "Not out of your grasp, I promise you that."

"Have you talked with Susie?"

"No. I just thought about it for the first time this weekend. Anyway, how is she supposed to understand?"

"What about your family?"

"No. After mom died, dad hasn't exactly been a fountain of information. Melanie's parents are on top of things, but I just wouldn't feel comfortable."


Peter started crying again. "These are the decisions I used to make with Melanie! How can I possibly get on with my life without her to point the directions?"

Valerie's eyes started to well, too.

"Mel and I used to ... I don't know ... bounce these kinds of ideas ... off each other."

"I'm here. Here today, and any other time. Can I help?"

"It's her house," he said.

Knowledge is power, and it is very difficult to resist temptations that come out of nowhere. Being prepared and understanding consequences are crucial ways of making good choices when other options are very tempting.  When I was growing up, 10 years old, education was the approach my parents and my church used for sexuality. And it wasn't "abstinence only" either.  I openly wonder whether my Protestant denomination would handle sex education the same way today, or at all.

Different Drummer: Alex Comfort

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