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Pondering the Puzzlement

Those in opposition to my American Dream

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

"I'm finding I enjoy bitterness more than I did longing for success." -J. Gorin

When a Russian born Jew posted that line I felt a flush of anger. Bitterness. I wrestle with every day and have yet to see how it leads to anything useful. To learn that she is leaning toward embracing bitterness depresses me.

From what I've gleaned of her birth, in a state hospital in Communist Russia, she lives by chance or the grace of some god. That her mother was a Jew had little to do with the poor treatment received in that medical institution. All the peasant women laboring in that place were treated with considerably less concern and care than were given village goats during kidding time. If any of the women died it was only paperwork for the overworked nurses who tried to ignore their cries of pain. If any of them succeeded in giving birth, well that was only more paperwork. What does it matter in any bureaucracy if a peasant lives or dies, so long as someone does the paperwork?

Considering her birth, I found the Jew's sense of humor fascinating. She was living in Manhattan, working comedy clubs between writing opinion pieces for any publication that would pay for them, when I first contacted her. Her nationally published columns, baring the extremes of her ber liberal Manhattanite acquaintances, were a confirmation of what little I'd heard of such people. That she could make me laugh while getting me to think outside my "rural mindset" endeared her to me, when I wasn't cursing her for making me consider ideas I'd rather not.

I once attempted to rattle her with a declaration as to why the world hates the Jews. "They make the rest of us think! Every freaking Jew I've ever talked to has caused me to think about things that I'd sooner ignore." She thought I was hilarious and encouraged me to open my eyes. The universe of ideas expands before me and I'm late to the race!

As much as the exchange of thoughts with this woman has set me to pondering and seeking, I often return to my "hick" nature.

There is only so much I can absorb of the world and blend with what was set in my head during childhood. I find myself twisting and squirming like some poor worm I use to thread a fishhook through. I too, don't understand the need for the torment; though I've been convinced the pain is worth the result. I keep reading, listening, watching, and asking questions against the day I gain some understanding. I still worry the worm has the right of it and I'm just being used to no end I'll be pleased with.

Partly because of the Jew, I've chosen a side in the unending political struggle for the control of our country. I too have embraced bitterness. While I'll not be voting for any candidate from one of our two major political parties, I do carefully listen to what they have to say, compare it to what they are doing, and to what similar ideologies have done elsewhere in the world.

Which doesn't mean the other half of our governing system gets a pass. Those running under that flag are looked at with an even more skeptical eye. Sadly, I don't see much in the party I could vote for that is likely to be worthy of the effort I'll make in walking to the polling place.

I haven't quite reached the point of "Throw all the bums out!" I still think there are good people in elected office struggling to bring this country back to center right where most of the population rests. Obviously, the resting is what has gotten all of us into the situation we have today.

I struggle to control the bitterness shading my political thinking. History doesn't offer much hope for people acting in bitterness. Better to laugh at the opposing ideology and encourage "we, the people" with honest smiles and efforts to change America's direction before bitterness is all most of us have left. The Jew should consider that tactic. She managed to capture the affections of this misanthrope with her humor. I think her illusive success lies in her ability to make us laugh. It sticks in my mind that comedy and tragedy are a matter of where we stand. I definitely need to step across the line and grin at those in opposition to my American Dream.

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.