Legacy

Since before midnight, I’ve been more or less awake. The first time I looked at the clock, the digits read 11:58. Every 35 to 45 minutes or so since then, I peered at the clock again, not sure what I would see. Had I slept since the last look…was it nearing time to get up, or had the time actually dragged by the way it seemed? It was the latter. Finally, at a minute or two after 3, I got up. But it wasn’t like I didn’t get any sleep yesterday. No, I fell asleep in my recliner yesterday afternoon, after Christmas dinner and ample refreshments. My IC told me, when she woke me around 8:30 and suggested I go to bed, that I had slept about three hours. I think I deserved it. After yesterday’s tapas cook-a-thon, which began in the wee hours, I was bone-tired. I think I spent about seven hours on my feet in the kitchen yesterday. Enough time to convince me I really need a gel mat in the kitchen. That will be something for the new house.

Twenty-four hours after writing yesterday’s random thoughts, I sit in front of my computer again, wondering what thoughts will spill onto the monitor and into the internet. I’ll soon see.

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Yesterday, while my niece was visiting my brother in the hospital in  Houston, she arranged for a Zoom gathering. My niece, my hospitalized brother, my two other brothers (one in rural southeast Texas and the other in Jalisco, Mexico) my sister (in California), and my nephew and his wife (in Ohio) joined in, along with my IC. That gathering felt very good. It’s rare that my family is able to visit together; even though it was not in person (which is beyond rare), the event was a superb way to spend the midday hour on Christmas Day. An added benefit: I was able to get out of the kitchen and off my feet.

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The intimate gathering at home yesterday was a good way to spend the day. My sister-in-law and a friend joined my IC and me for tapas. Some of my efforts resulted in what I expected. Some were acceptable, even after beginning with a major faux pas;  the meat balls I made were NOT supposed to have included the chopped onion with the ground lamb…but they turned out okay, anyway. The fried olives were, in my opinion, excellent; I had worried they might not turn out as I had hoped. The aubergine balls looked a bit like black 8-balls from a pool hall, but they tasted good. All in all, I was satisfied and I think the others enjoyed the meal as well. The best part, of course, as is always the case was the gathering. I wish we could have gathered other friends and family around us. But if one if smart, one takes what one can get and enjoys it to the fullest. I like to think I’m reasonably smart.

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The top of the news this morning is that Archbishop Desmond Tutu has died. In a statement announcing Tutu’s death, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called Tutu, “A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world.”  I think those words describe quite well Tutu and his impact on South Africa and the world at large. I wonder whether his legacy will live on? Or will the forces of repression and global efforts to deconstruct democracy and human rights undo all the good he accomplished during his lifetime? I sincerely hope his legacy will thrive.

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The platforms of political parties attempt to express their adherents’ fundamental values, but usually fail in the effort. They fail because they veer into describing desired outcomes instead of core beliefs. They ignore the fact that core values may be in conflict with the means of achieving outcomes. And party platforms appear to be—and are—meaningless platitudes that conceal the parties’ real interests: to gain or restore and to maintain POWER. Desired outcomes should be outgrowths of party platforms, not the other way around.

The Democratic party platform is an example of the backward-thinking that conceals an  obvious power-grab; an expression of placating a potential audience of supporters by using outcomes as lures. Here are some of the bedrock “principles” from the Democratic Party platform:

  • Building a Stronger, Fairer Economy
  • Achieving Universal, Affordable, Quality Health Care
  • Providing a World-Class Education in Every Zip Code
  • Creating a 21st Century Immigration System
  • Protecting Communities and Building Trust by Reforming our Criminal Justice System

In my view, the platform should represent unflinching, unchanging principles that do not change from election cycle to election cycle. The outcomes that emerge from those principles might vary over time, but the principles should not. The principles should guide the platform. Every one of the statements above is a statement of desired outcome. One might argue that the statements reflect principles, but I would disagree. The statements are meant to lure a target audience into a fight in which enemies are defined as those who would oppose the means by which the party hopes to achieve the outcomes.  From my perspective, the “platform” represents a naked lust for power, not a set of fundamental principles driven by a sense of morality. I could go on. I won’t.

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About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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