What I Finally Learned When Turning 70
With my advancing age, I have learned a great deal – admittedly, much of my learning came in recent years. Nevertheless, I have learned and am writing to you to help you avoid wasting precious time as I did.
I spent my teenage years growing up in Pittsburgh and loved the Steelers. After returning from a year of post-graduate work in Scotland, I returned to the States, got a job and went about beginning to raise three children. During the 70s when all my children were born, the Steelers won 4-Super Bowls. During that timeframe, Lynn Swann, a wide-receiver for the Steelers, taught us all a critically important lesson: no pain, no gain. He was my height and weight, which isn't really tall enough to be a wide-receiver. So he applied his learning that he received while in a ballet class where he learned to jump...really jump.
If you embrace your particular pain, it will benefit. I am 70-years old. I have outlived both my parents. I am also well-on my way to outlive George Burns, although I have about 30-years and a half dozen weeks to out due George on longevity. In the meantime, I have my family, teaching, traveling, and writing to take up much of the next 3-decades.
Being the elder statesman in my family, I have acquired a rather intense desire to nurture. That desire of nurturing includes my larger family including the President of the United States, Barrack Obama who I voted for twice.
In years past, political idiots of the right in America have merely irritated me. When they spoke about things, I merely wrote them off as either intellectual and/or ethical jerks. People like George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, Barry Goldwater, Jesse Helms, Joe McCarthy, Phyllis Schlafly, William Buckley, Rush, ditto head, Limbaugh, the those in the Tea Party or the birthers.
In the 7-decades of my journey through life, I have learned many things. One of the most important things is that Winston Churchill was wrong on many things especially this comment: "If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you are not conservative by 40, you have no brain." Winnie was wrong. Nevertheless, I'd like to rephrase and edit his mistaken message. "If you aren't a liberal by the age of 70, you have no heart nor brain." One of the things that I learned on January 20, 2013...my 70th birthday is that idiots are helpful...actually, quite helpful if you learn the following lesson.
I came to this educational insight as I watched President Obama's swearing-in by Chief Justice Roberts on January 20, 2013, my 70-birthday.
George Burns and I have had a long debate about whether presidents are sworn-in on the 20th as an honor to him or to me. Regardless of who is correct, I watched the swearing-in of Obama by Roberts in the Blue Room of the White House. I reflected upon the campaign that got Obama re-elected. I also thought about the next 4-years of Obama's presidency. I also wondered about January 20, 2017 when either Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden will take their oath of office...on my 74-birthday.
Nevertheless, I spent most of my time looking back on the campaign. It had irritated me how the Republican Party had campaigned at both the state and federal levels. List any issue from women's rights, to healthcare reform, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the revitalization of the economy, inclusiveness in our political life of women/ethnic/racial minorities, and tax reform. My list or any other issue that you might add, the conservative right, the birthers, and Tea Party were consistently wrong on all of them.
For example, the Republicans were telling women about rape and how they should see the blessing of child coming from a rape as God's gift. It is interesting to note that the four most ardent sexists on this issue were not elected to any public office in 2012...thankfully.
Another example, Obama's healthcare reform used Romney's healthcare reform in Massachusetts as a template for the national program. While Romney agreed with having a national program several years ago, he flip-flopped on his endorsement and ran against Obama saying that he would repeal it when elected.
Even more interestingly, two southern Republicans have called for their political bedfellows to stop being stupid - that was their word. However, prior to January 20th, I merely got mad at the supposedly educated conservatives who merely wanted to return to the past...the past of sexism, racism, and indifference to the needs of our society. My articles were just rants at idiots who weren't thinking.
However, sitting there watching the swearing-in, I learned an important lesson of life. Idiots are helpful, because they will raise questions about what they think by what they say. For example, if I were a female, I'd resent having males telling me how to think and behave regarding the issue of rape regardless of whether the rape was legitimate or illegitimate. Do you see the intellectual disconnect? Males telling women what to think, do, and how to handle a rape. Men wouldn't tolerate women telling them how to behave or think. However, these sexist idiots tell women. That is both an intellectual disconnect and sexist.
At one level, it is sexist. At another level, it is stupid sexism. Todd Aiken informed women about their bodies. If a woman is raped and doesn't want to conceive then she can stop the possible pregnancy by thinking...
Rick Santorum and Richard Murdock see pregnancy due to rape a wondrous gift of God in spite of the rape. How would either man know that rape was a gift of God if a child was conceived and that it was something that God had intended to happen?
Murdock was the only candidate that Romney endorsed. And Romney didn't tell Murdock to stop airing his endorsement after Murdock explained his theological and medical knowledge. Ryan, Romney's running mate, had supported Aiken on that issue while in Congress.
It is obvious that Obama already knew my learning before I came to it; he won the election. However, maybe not all my readers understand that idiots are helpful. Embrace the talk of idiots...then take each of their points and show the error of their logic.
Sitting silently on your hands or merely ranting about stupid notions does not accomplish anything. However, I learned something on my 70th- birthday...idiots can be helpful if you address their craziness.
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Visit the Stupid is As Stupid Does page to read more about this topic.