Seeing Yourself as Others See You…
Which is More Clearly

Bobby Kennedy has been my mentor for decades. I am a dreamer, or as Bobby paraphrased George Bernard Shaw, “Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.” That single sentence is what drives me and best explains my modus operandi in life.

Last week, a friend of mine going back decades said to me that I sounded like Dag Hammarskjöld. Wow. To begin with, my knowledge-base about the former Secretary-General of the UN is extremely limited. About all that I really know about him is that he was killed in an airplane crash in 1961. He was attempting to resolve fighting between two military groups in the Congo. While flying to a meeting to negotiate a ceasefire, the plane crashed, killing him and more than a dozen others.

I trust my friend’s view on life. We chat every Saturday on the phone. While trying to quickly figure out what similarity I might have, my friend then asked whether I had read his book, Markings. Two days later, thanks to Amazon, I received my copy of Markings. I looked at the cover.

An interesting cover….

I sat there in my living room looking at the cover. Apparently, Jimmy Carter wrote a new preface for Markings, and W.H. Auden wrote the foreword. An American president and an English-American poet apparently were enamored by Markings. I happened to look at the back cover, which contained a couple paragraphs by Auden about Hammarskjöld’s book. Then this statement was written below his comments:

Translated from the Swedish by Leif Sjöberg and W.H. Auden

I understand that Sjöberg, who must have been Swedish, could translate another Swede’s book into English. However, English-American poets aren’t noted for having any prowess in translating Swedish into English.

So, off I went reading twenty some pages of the foreword by Auden. It was designed to explain Hammarskjöld as a type of preamble to Markings. Then it happened. I hadn’t even read half of Auden’s forward when he quoted Henry David Thoreau regarding problems with accurately being self-reflective. “It is as hard to see oneself as to look backwards without turning round.” I had never read that comment before. However, the Scottish poet, Bobby Burns, wrote in his poem, “To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady's Bonnet at Church,”

Oh, would some Power give us the gift
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion:
What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
And even devotion!

Auden opened my mind with Thoreau’s comment about self-reflection, which got me thinking about Burns saying essentially the same thing. Auden concluded that one’s antagonist or enemy probably can describe more accurately a person than that person themselves could. We are not masters of self-reflection. I pondered that truism for several moments. However, I had to finish teaching a couple online classes and take Ginger out for a walk before going to bed, which I did. As I started to turn out lights in my office, I stopped. Some lights in my brain were turned on.

Thus, I began this essay. I already told you that I am a dreamer…often of seemingly impossible dreams. Additionally, I am left of center politically—way left of center. I deem those as two of my positive attributes.

Moreover, I’m trying to be self-reflective, which is sometimes problematic. Another personality quirk that I possess is that I have a great deal of angst related to people who act as big deals. Okay, in my attempt at being self-reflective, I have trouble dealing with self-righteous blowhards. As they swagger across their stage of life, they are excellent talking the talk, but it is merely blabber. These people talk about a litany of issues like racism, sexism, homophobes, xenophobes, etc.

I get that everyone in the world can’t agree on very much of anything. However, egoistical blowhards spouting bs is more than an irritant for me, not to mention those affected by issues related to racism, etc. To be absolutely honest with you, I am not writing about Trump. However, this essay is about one of his supporters…King of the Ditto Heads, Rush Limbaugh. Listen to his announcement about his advanced lung cancer.

At one level, I feel sorry for anyone dancing with death, even though he is a poster child for the egoistical, pious, and self-righteous people.

Rush loves his cigars….

Okay, he has advanced lung cancer. The death rate of those with lung cancer is 150,000 per year. Smoking is one of the major reasons for lung cancer. Over a half century ago, this warning was required on all packs of cigarettes: “Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health.” That message hasn’t changed much over the handful of decades…in America.

However, the message and pictures have radically changed in the world. During my recent trip there during winter break to Myanmar to visit my family, I noticed that the government requires cigarette packs to have pictures like this.

Enjoy your smoke.

Limbaugh said of firsthand smoke that “it takes 50 years to kill people, if it does.” However, to clarify his stupid comment, he said, “Now, it’s true that everybody who smokes dies. But so, does everyone who eats carrots.”

Now, the King of the Ditto Heads has advanced lung cancer due to either smoking cigars or eating carrots. Whatever caused him to dance with death might wake him up to reality about all the other of his nonsensical comments about global warming, feminism, racism, etc.

These comments are addressed to Rush; George Wallace was a lot like you. He’d go off on his rants about blacks like he got his information while on some southern Mt. Sinai. For decades, he was the poster child for bigots. Wallace hated pointy-headed liberals just like you. He spent much of life as a raging racist and attempted to return to the good ol’ days of slavery. There wasn’t much to say that was positive in any of his obituaries. However, not long before he died, Wallace saw the light. He apologized, in the fading moments that remained for him, for what he said and how he acted.

Rush, I have danced with death…twice. While I never followed in your footsteps, I realized that my clock was ticking. That motivated me to do more positive things in life. I hope that I have another decade or more to do more.

At this present time, you are merely an incarnation of Wallace. Now, you are beginning to grasp that you are not an immortal truth-teller to your Ditto Head following. You have a chance at redeeming yourself. However, trying to improve the world in the last few seconds of life won’t work. Things like having Melania Trump put the Presidential Medal of Freedom on you at Trump’s State of the Union speech is a joke.

Rush joins a long list of other notables: Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk, Gloria Steinem, Lech Walesa, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Angela Merkel, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Joseph Biden, Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, Jesse Owens, Roberto Clemente, and many others.

Rush, you need to free yourself. Wake up now and smell the roses. Someday, you won’t wake up, and your legacy will be etched in stone forever. You should be hearing the ticking of your clock.