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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

FABLES FOR OUR TIME

There is an old story about a dirt poor Jewish peasant – let us call him Moishe – who lives in a tiny one room hovel with his wife, his mother-in-law, his two children, and a dog.  His sole possession is a pig, which roots about in the yard.  Moishe is beside himself at the crowding of his little home, so he goes to seek guidance from the rabbi.  The rabbi listens to Moishe’s tale of woe and then asks. “Moishe, don’t you have a pig?”  “Yes,” says Moishe, “he lives in the yard.”  “Fine,” says the rabbi, “bring the pig into your home.”  “But rabbi,” Moishe begins to protest.  ‘Moishe,” the rabbi says sternly, “bring the pig into your home.”  Moishe goes home, shaking his head, but the rabbi is the wisest person in the village, so he does as the rabbi says.  Well, now things are completely unbearable.  With his wife, his mother-in-law, his two children, and the dog, he could barely turn around in his home, and now the pig is rooting everywhere in the tiny room, getting under foot.  Moishe goes back to the rabbi and says, plaintively, “Rabbi, I did what you said, and now my life is even more miserable, if that could be imagined.  The pig is sleeping in my bed! What should I do?”  The rabbi strokes his beard and replies, “Put the pig in the yard.”  The next Sabbath, after services, Moishe grasps the rabbi’s hand, tears in his eyes, and says, “Rabbi, I cannot thank you enough!   Life is wonderful now that the pig is in the yard.”

For the past three months, I have been dealing with increasing pain in both hands and wrists.  The medical consensus is that I have osteoarthritis, not exactly unknown in someone my age.  I have had a series of tests [next week something called an EMG test, in which they put needles in me and measure electric conduction or some such thing, sort of like acupuncture without the incense].  The problem with my hands is not exactly life-threatening, but it does hurt a good deal, and would have a serious impact on my golf game, if I played golf.  Then, last week, during my morning walk, as I was looking up at a hawk perched on a power stanchion, I tripped and took a really hard fall on the pavement.  My main injury was a blow to the inside of my left knee, which swelled way up.  As the swelling began to go down, a big bruise appeared and it began to hurt really, really badly.  When I got up in the morning, it hurt so much I could hardly walk.  I went to the UNC same day clinic, and a young resident, after looking at it and consulting with his supervisor, gave me the official medical judgment:  I had fallen and bruised the inside of my knee.  In time it would get better.  I was, of course, grateful for this high-powered medical judgment, and went home to take some more Tylenol.  This morning, for the very first time, it seemed that the pain was less severe, and I felt a great sense of relief.  This put me in a much better mood, even though the pains in my hands had not in any way diminished.  And so I thought of the story with which I began this post.


Then it occurred to me:  For at least sixty of my eighty-three years, I have been complaining about everything that I find appalling about the country in which I live:  the brutal treatment of African-Americans, the discrimination against women, the exploitation of workers, the destructive imperial adventures of the government.  Now, in what was supposed to be my golden years, I must deal with a despicable fascistic narcissist in the White House and the daily abominations he visits on the world.  I daydream endlessly about what a relief it would be were to resign, or be impeached, or die.  How nice it would be to see him removed from office, so that we could go back to the way things were before he won the presidency.  What a relief to put that pig back out in the yard.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been having this discussion lately, how great it would be to finally be done with this narcissistic man-child, but it has become more unsettling as I try and think through consequences. The plain truth is that the people who voted Trump still either support him or have not been presented a viable alternative - as we've seen in the by-elections. They may regret the decision in some cases but they still have no other option. We may dream that the Democrats will move out of the center-right and nominate someone like Elizabeth Warren but I see no evidence.

Whether a 25th Amendment action or Impeachment, that will leave an interesting vacuum, with Mike Pence (no charmer) and the rest of the establishment Republicans as scapegoats and no real charismatic focus. Trump will not go quietly and he has shown a tremendous ability to manipulate the media. We can likely expect him to fully align with his pseudo-intellectual mentor, Steve Bannon, and lash-out at all the people on his, doubtless stellar, enemies list. Then, the primaries roll around and we face a new Trump, but one motivated by an ideology other than "I'm the best" or "revenge on Obama". We are only going to see movement away from an actual Fascist if we can move the electorate. I am supporting Bernie's organization and several others to the left of that but my real-world efforts with coworkers has little traction. I have no idea how to change their tribe on the one hand and cannot offer the unaligned a serious alternative to empty promises. Someone acknowledging my pain seems to beat business as usual, even if it leads toward a dangerous candidate.

May the gods help us if Trump dies of a heart attack following being booted from office - martyrs immediately gain an aura that takes years to tarnish.

At least we could stop worrying that Trump has the biscuit.

David E. said...

This is a Jewish tale I know as "It Could Always be Worse". As such I wondered why a nice Jewish guy would have a pig. But the ending of your version suggests what kind of pig we are really talking about.

David Palmeter said...

Anonymous

According to news reports of polls that I have seen, not all who voted for Trump still support him. A Quinnipiac poll reported that 66% of white voters without a college degree voted for him, but according to Quinniac, that number is now down to 43%. That's still significant, but it is strong evidence that as each day goes by his support is eroding. It's still enough to keep almost all congressional Republicans in his camp, but if the trend continues the few who have already bailed on him will be joined by many others.

ZDK said...

Paul remember, there are at least two pigs in the house! If the "Pig Number One" leaves, "Pig Number Two" would be left to continue the damage! "Pig Number Two" is more dangerous because he is the smarter of the two

levinebar said...

As awful as a president Pence would be--and he is a racist, homophobic, young-earth creationist Christian dominionist enemy of women's rights, and of labor rights, and of science--he would not be as scary as Trump. The (very real) damage that Pence would do would be largely reversible. He's unlikely to destroy our republic or our planet. I have no such faith in Trump.
How I look forward to complaining that we haven't yet prosecuted anyone for torture, and that the POTUS still claims the extraordinary power to whack a citizen without even a gesture towards due process of law.
Barry Levine

David said...

Meanwhile, McCain takes another poke at the pig:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/john-mccain-its-time-congress-returns-to-regular-order/2017/08/31/f62a3e0c-8cfb-11e7-8df5-c2e5cf46c1e2_story.html?utm_term=.b81f1a6c8cb9