Hypocrisy or Hippocrates?

A 2016 conundrum examined by L. E. Taylor

“Fibs.” Small innocent sidesteps around The Truth.

Well, I’ve done it, oh yes. I’m a flawed human being. I’ve borne false witness. Didn’t mean to. Didn’t think about it as a lie. But over the years, getting into scrapes and cornered by my own fecklessness, it happened.

Notice that impersonal-tense: It happened. As though no one was really responsible. It just… happened. As when the government tells us that “mistakes were made.” Nobody really made the costly policy blunders. No one caused the unexpected consequences – egregious harm done to average families merely happened. No one planned the murders of Americans stranded in various hell holes around the globe. The “stuff” just made itself… happen.

Speaking not as a perfect human being, but as a contrite child of God placed here to witness and to advocate for what’s right, I’m fed up to here with lies. Hypocrisy is not droll or clever or forgivable just because “everyone does it.” We have a demanding system of instituted laws. Not fickle “regulations” imposed by partisan paper-pushers – hard Laws of State. Lying under oath is out.

In our system, men and women are elected to be stewards of our Republic. They hold a sacred trust. They must not enter the halls of government to advance themselves, but – at all cost to their own comforts – they are sworn to protect and defend the constitutional integrity of a sacredly conceived Nation. Unambiguously. No fibs allowed.

The Founders themselves were not without flaw, but they were inoculated with conscience. Whatever their failings, their worldview was informed by the Judeo-Christian ethic that underpinned their classical educations and resulted in the U.S. Constitution. When they sinned, they knew they were sinning. They held themselves, and each other, to account. Vociferously.

George Washington, our first and still our greatest president, knew he was setting precedent for the ages, so he monitored his own behavior. He declined the notion of “president for life”. He rejected any majestic reference to the Executive officeholder, preferring to be called simply “Mister President.” He insisted upon placing his hand upon a Bible for the Oath of Office and concluded his sacred promise with an ad lib: “So help me, God.”

A few weeks ago, along with about seven hundred other informed and thoroughly fed-up Americans of all faiths, races and political parties, I met a great man. Dr. Benjamin Carson may become our next president. If not, it will not be because he is feckless or unprincipled.

Raised by an impoverished mother in a blighted ghetto of a crumbling, graft-ridden City of Detroit, Dr. Carson’s salvation has been documented. He transformed from the worst tadpole in his fifth grade class to a fully-formed “prince.” A graduate of The University of Michigan Medical School, Yale University, and recently retired as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Ben has exemplified the very epitome of an American Dream.

His journey is catalogued in six self-authored best-selling books and one made-for-TV movie, Gifted Hands. Ben Carson is cofounder of the Carson Scholars Fund, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – and at last year’s Prayer Breakfast he candidly spoke truth to power.

one-tourThat’s why I found myself one Friday afternoon, in a crush of good natured, highly motivated Middle Americans at a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Plano, Texas.

We’ve had it with corruption in high places. We’ve had it with the bullying of faceless partisan bureaucrats, elected by nobody. We’ve had it with scandal and deceit that riddles both parties for want of a moral compass. We’re disgusted and way past patient, waiting for a person of conscience and spine to grace the office so wisely engineered by our Founders and so carefully crafted by our First President.

We cannot be looking up the sleeve of everyone we deal with. So as Americans, we’ve bound ourselves, over more than two centuries, to a social compact: We shall not lie. In government, we honor the truth above all else. That settled, citizens ought to be free to move with confidence along our journey as a God-blessed Nation.

A couple of days after my excursion to the bookstore, I settled down to read my slim little purchase, One Nation, by Ben Carson. The principle of personal integrity and how to keep it healthy in Washington D.C. is in there. And running through it as unwritten subtext, is the Hippocratic dictum of care givers, “First, do no harm.”

I urge you to read One Nation.

Onward.

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References

Hunter, Derek; Progressives, and the Unnecessary Lie; June 6, 2014
http://townhall.com/columnists/derekhunter/2014/06/15/progressives-and-the-unnecessary-lie-n1851260

Carson M.D., Ben; One Nation; Sentinel – The Penguin Group; New York City, NY; 2014.

Carson M.D., Benjamin; America the Beautiful; Zondervan; Grand Rapids, MI; 2012.

Carson M.D., Benjamin; Think Big; Zondervan; Grand Rapids, MI; 1992.

No Training Wheels or Water Wings.
Just Daddy.

A remembrance by L. E. Taylor

When I was a young dad, I made my way in life as a freelance “ad guy”. I’d started out as a trained graphic designer, then drifted into being my own copywriter, and finally, I was providing the whole marketing package to small, ambitious clients. I was no flashy “Mad-Man” (well, that came later). But I was no 60’s bohemian either; I just looked like one. Mostly at church.

I worked at home – on my drawing board in the living room. Summertime, I was at my Smith-Corona out on the patio, in the sunshine. My wife was an elementary public school teacher; our incomes together made the monthly nut. Usually. I worked my own hours – often twice what I’d be clocking with conventional employment, at a fraction of the take-home pay. I did a lot of stuff around the house, but it wasn’t a political posture; I was good at it – a good cook, an okay decorator, and there was nobody I’d rather spend time with every minute of every day than my kids. (They were smarter than the alternatives. And funnier.)

Kathy had come first, and then four days short of four years later, Christopher. Both were on purpose.

Let’s admit it; I was blessed. And I was fit. For years, I’d kept that way by swimming at the Y, by walking miles every day and night whatever the weather, by never smoking, and by eating both well and smart. My kids and I seemed to think of each other as equals. Though discipline was always in order, discipline was seldom an issue of conflict; they just trusted me – like ducklings trust their mom.

Kathy was about seven when she got her first two-wheel bike, new and shiny blue. To my diminutive, shy, intelligent, freckle-faced Katherine Melanie, the bike loomed BIG. It smelled like a new bike. We walked it down the hill onto the court behind our duplex. I held it steady as she placed one foot onto a pedal, hiked herself upward, and sat down on the strange untested saddle.

“Ready?” I said.

“I guess.”

The solo maiden voyage around the circular court lasted about two seconds and twelve feet. I arrived at her side as she leaned to starboard. Kathy remounted, still pointed in the same direction. Handlebars wiggling wildly right-left-right, pedals rotated barely a circuit, and the second try ended in four seconds, leaning to port.

Aground, less than half way round the court, the little girl looked up at her Daddy. Eyes began to well with tears. The chin and lower lip quivered. “Oh, I’ll NEVER learn to ride a bike,” she wailed.

I stood back and began to laugh. Not a fake laugh of derision, the real thing. I composed myself, and said, “Oh, I get it! You’re going to be the first kid in the history of the WORLD to not learn how to ride a bike.” I sighed, still amused. Then, serious. “Get on.”

Kathy sniffed and wiped her face with a bare hand. She got back on, frowning through her tears. I walked the girl and the shiny blue two-wheeler just one fast step, then another, then shoved them off into the world.

Kathy giggled all the way around the circle, eyes not yet dry.

That same summer was one of a half-dozen summers that the kids accompanied their, well, “unusual” Daddy every afternoon to the community swimming pool at Veteran’s Park.

I would dive in first, swim a length or two, then they got into the shallow end while I read or worked at my clipboard, one eye on them, as I worked on a gorgeous case of skin cancer. (What the heck, you’re only young once.) In their younger days, the moment often came that it was time for daddy to hop in, do a surface dive, then come up right in the face of one of his munchkins.

Years before, Kathy had learned to swim using the Daddy Method, and now, in 1967, it was time for her brother. I would shout, “Come on. Flop in and swim to me,” In he would go. I was already paddling slowly away from him. “Grab my shoulders.” Then Christopher would grip my Copper-toned shoulders and I would do the tired swimmer’s carry in figure-eights all about the pool, deep end included. “Toot-toot!” I’d yell. “Here we come.” Swimmers young and not so young would make way. “Let’s hear it, baby!” I’d call over my shoulder, “Toot-toot, Baby.” And Christopher, kicking as hard as he could, hanging onto his dad’s red-brown shoulders, would exclaim, “Toot-toot, baby-toot-baby-toot-baby… toot.”

And soon, he would be swimming beside me.

Well, I feel exactly as young today as in 1968, but in the mirror, the shock is a surprise every morning. I appear more, uh, experienced.

But whatever I’ve loused up as a dad, I’m glad I never attached training wheels to a bike or water wings to a child who might come to depend on them.

Onward.

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Fat Bob, Synchronicity, Serendipity,
and Karma

Backstory; a true tale of closure by L. E. Taylor

Chicago IL
June, 1954.
The gentleman was last to board the 4:40 p.m. North Central flight to Detroit. Well back in the Convair, only one seat was available, at a window. The turbo engines were revving up with a powerful whine. He slid his attaché case into the overhead bin, slipped out of his tailored grey summer-weight suit coat, folded it neatly and placed it on his briefcase. Last, he removed his straw fedora, set it upon the jacket, and excused himself to the occupant of the aisle seat.

The burly fellow looked up from his magazine and said, “I can take the window if you like.

“Thank you,” the gentleman smiled. “But whatever you prefer.”

The flight would take no more than thirty minutes in the air, but this was Midway Field, it was raining, and they were not in the air yet. The stewardess made her way back through the aisle checking names and noting seat assignments for the FAA log.

The gentleman said, “Taylor.”

The burly fellow said, “Taylor.”

Ann Arbor MI
October, 1976.
Fat Bob closed the front door, stuffed the bandana into his overalls pocket and tousled the big Saint Bernard’s ears. “Go lay down.” That was fine with her, and she flopped onto the freshly vacuumed living room floor.

Bob stared at the brass door knob for a moment. He walked to the antique desk and slid open the hood. He found his readers in a cubbyhole and slipped them on. In a few minutes he found it, yellowed and smudged there it was, after twenty-two years. He peered at the formal calling-card as he had so many times, once or twice poised over a waste basket, only to replace it into the chaos of the old desk. “Clark Equipment Company, Buchanan, Michigan,” it proclaimed. “Elgan Taylor, Assistant to the President.”

Ann Arbor MI
November, 1976.
“Bob!” the young man says. “Good to see you, man; have a seat.”

Fat Bob Taylor, The Singing Plumber, sits. “Nice office, Larry,” he says.

“Thanks, Bob. I hope you know how much your performance meant to my mother, and everyone else, at the uh… at the service.”

“I had to do it.”

The words hang there. Bob’s hard stare gives way to a twinkle.

Curious, the young fellow waits. Just outside the open door a typewriter clatters; a telephone buzzes twice. Bob reaches around and gently closes the office door. He clears his throat. “When you came to my house that day… that was not the first time I’d heard of your dad.”

A beat.

“One day many years ago,” Bob continues, “my own father came home from a business trip. He’d been to Chicago. He was impressed with someone he’d met on the plane and he wanted to tell me about it.”

“Yeah…?”

“Yeah. My dad was a plain-spoken, regular guy. A tradesman. A good man to talk to if you didn’t need a lot of conversation. But as he told me about the man on the plane, Dad spoke… differently, more animated.” Bob fidgets, glances out the window. “The gentleman he’d met on the plane – that’s what he called him, ‘gentleman’ – the gentleman, it turned out, was also named Taylor. The man was well informed on the origins of our name, and was glad to discuss it with my father. He said the French version of our family name came over to England with the Norman Conquest. The trade reference – you know, a clothes maker – was older than that. And so on. Anyway, they got along real well and they exchanged business cards.” Bob digs into his jacket pocket. “Here.”

Larry studies the scrap of pasteboard. Muffled office sounds outside the door fade to silence. He looks at his famous guest. “Yes. I know about that day,” he says.

Bob chuckles. “You’re playing with me. That was twenty years ago.”

“No, I’m not kidding, Robert. If I wanted to joke, I could be funnier than that.” He hands the card back to The Singing Plumber. “My dad, Elgan Taylor, told me about that conversation as soon as he got home that day. Until just now, that was the only other time I heard of it. He even showed me your dad’s business card.”

Bob bellows a big theatrical barrel-laugh. “Well, do you have my dad’s card?”

“No. I threw it away. Why would I keep your dad’s card?”

When the laughter calms down, the two men, sharing one surname but not related by blood, immerse into an afternoon of world-weary banter and war stories, irreverent jokes, and confidential tale-telling. Finally they circle back to the jarring coincidence of these two sons of absent wayfarers two decades removed, and of the cosmic mysteries of fate.

Finally, Fat Bob rises stiffly from his swivel chair and announces it’s time to go feed his dog. He stretches an aching lower back. “Urrghh. Getting old is hell,” he mutters. “Big Five-O coming up next month.”

Larry, for no reason he can explain, says, “Sagittarius.”

“No. Capricorn. The worst Capricorn: December twenty fifth.”

“I’ll send you a Christmas card, brother.”

Onward.

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