Curtis Dahlgren
What the world needs now: Humility, universal civility, and some other stuff!
By Curtis Dahlgren
April 15, 2014

"'I wish thar was winders to my Sole,' said I, 'so that you could see some of my feelins.'" – Artemus Ward (Chas. Browne), 1834-1867

"This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." – Horace Walpole (1776), Earl of Orford

WHO SAYS WE CAN'T DO BOTH? Conservatives have "feelins" too y'know. The British Earl Walpole, in 1775, wrote:

"By the waters of Babylon we sit and weep, when we think of thee, O America."

He saw a war coming, although he was overly pessimistic about the Colonies. By July 4, 1776 America had already become the richest place, per capita, on earth (did you know?). O would that we could all see today's America through the "winders of the Sole" of the class of 1960. My specific purpose in writing today is to explain the advantages of being old COOTS (Coming Out Of The Shadows). The short version is, people go out of this life with a lot more humility than we came into it with (we came in not caring who heard our screams of protest; it was more "secure" in the womb).

By the way, isn't it amazingly awesome how much "memory" our brains came equipped with? Think of all the detailed memory you have stored up there – even videos in color, and sound! For us old COOTS, some of our most vivid memories are from school days (even pre-school). Our lives don't flash before our eyes, but even in slow motion, some of them are a bit painful. As a so-called "Leo," I have to admit that in my younger days I was sometimes an A-hole.

As a church-going boy, I heard the congregation reciting "Lord, have mercy" and I didn't quite get it. A week later, people would be back to "Lord, have mercy" and I would wonder, what have these people been doing since last Sabbath? Besides, doesn't the church say that the Lord did away with the Law? I never believed the latter, but as a kid I saw through the eyes of a kid.

Well, at the age of 72, almost, all those megabytes of stored "memory" often give one pause to say "What was I thinking?"! And in retrospect, sins of omission are almost worse than those of commission, and I'm starting to comprehend the "Lord have mercy" deal. And what's the point?

Today's tweeners, teeners, and college in-betweeners have been called the "over-praised generation" by and others. Fewer families are going to church, and in school kids are praised for their awareness and "consciousness" by the enviro-mental fanatics (the only fire-and-brimstone preachers they ever hear). With or without academic achievement, with or without religion, it's just normal human nature to have at least one holier-than-thou aspect to one's "self-esteem." On the left side of the spectrum, people go like "Thank god I'm not like those heartless conservative bigots."

I wish they could see through the "winders of the soul" of those of us who did high school in the 1950s and early 60s (because, like Job, we are beginning to see ourselves and therefore know God better). As I was driving tractor on the farm, I had "plans" for my life. I thought they were modest plans. I only wanted to get one Nobel prize, one Oscar, and maybe an Emmy. The first thing I wanted to do though was to make a living off athletic skill. Academic work was interesting but easy for me, while hitting a baseball was hard, so I was drawn to the challenge. It's like hitting is harder for pitchers, but they get the biggest kick out of it (I say Warren Spahn hit a home run on opening day in 1960 – one of those megabytes of "memory" stored forever as a video in my mind).

Anyway, I used up two college scholarships, at least partially, but my family still couldn't afford "Higher" education, and frankly I had had about enough of both school and milking cows. Paradoxically, I ended up living off athletic skill as an arborist (they used to call us tree surgeons). When I started climbing trees, Kennedy was President, and I still climb one on occasion.

Enough biography, but speaking of Presidents, the current one is young enough to be my grandson. Nothing against that, but I just hope he didn't get ruined by the self-esteem movement. If I had a grandson, I would hope that he wouldn't look like a professor of Machiavellian poly-sci or the Chicago Way 101. We have left the soil too far behind us (humility is related to the word "humus"). Even my hero Hank Aaron is calling people such as myself members of the KKK! Feelings? There's no crying in politics, but maybe we should – cry for our country! How far we have fallen since 2008. Remember?

"This is the New Testament." – Chris Matthews

"He's sort of GOD!" – Evan Thomas

" . . . the Platonic philosopher-king we've been looking for for the past 2,400 years." – Micah Tillman (a professor )

I remember that there was an "old Nixon" and a "New Nixon." I pray to God that we yet get a renewed President ("renewal" means to get a new lease on life) and a RENEWED America. If not, someday that 1775 line could be repeated: "By the waters of Babylon we sit and weep, when we think of thee, O America!"

Like it or not, wisdom does tend to come with age, and here are a few gems by Benjamin Franklin:
  • "He that lives on hope will die fasting."

  • "Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears."

  • "Industry pays debts, while despair increases them."
That's the kind of stuff we old COOTS can relate to, and as Artemus Ward said:
  • "Let us all be happy, and live within our means, even if we have to borrer the money to do it with."

  • "Shall we sell our birthrite for a mess of potash?"
The Ruling Class and non-farmers probably won't get the humor. But finally, as G.K. Chesterton said:

"All men are ordinary men; the extraordinary men are those who know it."

Today is my Passover day (some keep it tomorrow), but when I looked out the window this morning the world was white as the wind-driven snow. That's because it was covered with the wind-driven snow! We got about four inches overnight and it's still coming down. I've just about worn my fingers to the bone writing about the Global Warming hoax, but please go to Alan Caruba's column, "Is it okay to lie about Climate Change?" It's a concise piece that sums it up well!

What the world needs now is some humility, civility, and some other stuff (maybe less snow).

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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