Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Being a Benevolent Dictator

The kid I wrote about last week is doing much better.  I think he’s out of the woods.  They brought him to Dallas to the Children’s Medical Center and his family doesn’t have to drive to Abilene to see him.  And they are getting a good look at how the brain works—at what an interesting piece of equipment it is.  They withdrew sedation and are letting his bruised brain wake up.  As of last night he thought he was in Illinois and his mother was Osama Bin Laden.  She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  With confidence that he will improve like the doctors say, things still aren’t quite where his mom wants them to be.  I know there are teenagers out there who think their parents are mean and oppressive but,really-- Osama Bin Laden is going overboard.

Today I want to talk about dictators.

There is something good to be said for dictatorships:  your citizens never have this exhausting marathon of watching their government trying to decide what to do.  That process takes so long and there are so many opinions that just listening to them is overwhelming.  Under a dictator we wouldn't have to listen to campaign commercials or stand in live in the rain to vote.  Life would just be so much easier.

It would be interesting to not have a congress, wouldn't it?  They would all have to get regular jobs like us.  And they would have to get real jobs, too—there are no lobbyists under a dictatorship.. 

I find myself thinking that if they would just let me run the country everything would be soooo much better.  I would make a fantastic dictator and, of course,  I would be benevolent.  My harshest law would be to eat more vegetables.

My reign would be only to improve my citizen’s lives.  Who would make a better dictator than someone with experience as a mother?

 Lately, I’ve been playing a game with myself in Walmart.  I look at things and decide what I would eliminate from the store if I had the power.  All the gossip magazines would go—they serve no positive function except for making people with sad lives feel better about themselves (“My husband may be a deadbeat but at least he doesn't slug me on the elevator.”)

I would get rid of sugary soft drinks or at least reduce them down to one or two flavors.  Coke and Dr Pepper would suffice, dontcha think?  I wouldn’t even have diet drinks because I’m not sure they help much.

We wouldn’t sell guns at my Walmart.  No exercise equipment, either, because I’ve never known them to really help.  You can go outside for a good walk instead.  I would take the clothing department down to just a couple of aisles.  People don’t need that many choices. 

My Walmart would be so much smaller.  The money I save on electricity alone would allow me to give everybody a raise.

Under my dictatorship the CEO wouldn’t make more than 20% more than the lowest paid employee.  You might say that I couldn’t attract quality management but I have to ask how much intelligence does it require to play golf all day?  I’ve seen some highly paid people make some bonehead moves.

As a benevolent dictator I would take action on a few matters everyone agrees need to be done but nobody is willing to risk making a change.  Like the national anthem.  Come on folks, does anybody REALLY prefer the Star Spangled Banner over America the Beautiful?  Which would you rather sing about with your hand over your heart at a football game?  Bombs bursting in air or amber waves of grain?

While we're at it, put me in charge of religious matters. Yeah, that one would be interesting, if not laughable-- to decree what a person believes.  Of course, you can’t do that with any degree of success.  I've heard stories of people in concentration camps that recited scripture from memory.  The minute you try to outlaw something like religion people start hiding bibles under their mattress and inside their minds.

However, given the chance, I would like to revamp the language of the Apostles creed:  The "Holy Ghost" would have to go.  Can you imagine what kids think when we tell them there is a ghost everywhere they go?  (My pastor says this came from the German word for spirit which is “geist.” And I am so "whatever." at that explanation)  I like to call it Casper Supreme since at least Casper the Friendly Ghost is friendly.  In my church, the Holy Ghost would be called the Holy Spirit.  

And here Jane breaks into song to end today’s words: (Yes, I did kind of get off the subject but this what Casper Supreme is telling me to do today. Casper gets to run the show so seldom that I like to accommodate him when I can)

Spirit, spirit of gentleness,
Blow through the wilderness,
Calling and free
Spirit, spirit of restlessness
Stir me from placidness
Wind, wind on the sea.

You moved on the waters, you called to the deep
Then you coaxed up the mountains from the valleys of sleep
And over the eons, you called to each thing:
“Awake from your slumbers and rise on your wings”

You swept through the desert, you stung with the sand
And you gifted your people with a law and a land
And when they were blinded with their idols and lies
Then you spoke through your prophets to open their eyes

You sang in a stable, you cried from a hill
Then you whispered in silence when the whole world was still
And down in the cities you called once again
When you blew through your people on the rush of the wind

You call from tomorrow, you break ancient schemes
From the bondage of sorrow the captives dream dreams
Our women see visions, our men clear their eyes
With bold new decisions your people arise


(#319 in the blue Presbyterian hymnal  Or #291 in the new purple one)

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