Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sometimes, There's Hope

I have spent an adult lifetime talking to myself. I listen well. I even comment to myself on my comments, and sometimes I even tell myself I am full of it. I am grateful for my own company because at least I take myself seriously.

I can't say as much about my relatives, friends, and aquaintances. Often I am considered to be the strange one. "Oh, that's just Ron being Ron," they say as they giggle at my convoluted attempts to give them a concise rendition of some obscure aspect of libertarianism. Conversation quickly moves away from the Great Questions of our day and on to sports, or personalities, or music, etc.

Such is life. At times, I get a little down at my inability to engage others in serious and enlightening conversation. How, I ask myself (because I am the only one listening) are the problems of our society, our country, or the world to be dealt with if we fail to discuss them seriously, at some depth, and with some integrity? I have been told, and I have told myself, to not expect much because I am looking for what never will be.

But this year, on Christmas night, I saw something interesting happen. A couple of friends that I generally disagree with on all Great Questions, but whom I genuinely like and respect, were having sport with me over the blurb on the back of "The Creature From Jekyll Island." The blurb was fron Ron Paul, someone my friends have only cursory knowledge of and whom they consider just another Republican. One friend, the wife, read the blurb aloud in a faux dramatic voice as a way of poking at me. I did not take it personally, but I also was not sure how to respond to the sarcasm.

Then inspiration struck. I went to my book pile and found "End the Fed," by Ron Paul. I handed it to the husband, while his wife was still reading the other blurb, back cover first. Then I watched as his face went from neutral to wide eyed surprise and leaning back in his chair as if a force had reached out and pushed him backwards suddenly. He recovered, leaned forward, and showed his wife the front cover.

"Ron Paul, 'End the Fed,'" she said. "So?"

The husband flipped the book around and she read the blurb. She threw herself back in her chair. "No way! No fucking way!"

The blurb as by Arlo Guthrie, one of her counter-culture heros.

"We're taking the book home, and my husband is going to read it!"

My words, no matter how carefully chosen, had been unable to open a serious conversation about free markets or libertarianism for 20 years. Yet a simple sentence by Arlo opened the floodgates of interest and passion.

I trust our next gathering will be interesting.

There can be hope, even twenty years too late.


  1. "Rarely has a single book not only challenged, but decisively changed my mind."
    That it?

  2. Ah, yes. That's the quote. Didn't have the book to refer to when I tapped out my blog was obsconded with by the afore-mentioned friends.
    My latest blog entry was an exercise in a little self-pity. Conversations with some friends and relatives in the past month or so have gotten me labeled "naive," "crazy," and "delusional." I suspect I am also called "bore" and "buzz killer," but they are my friends so they are kind enought not to say it to my face. All of that may be true, but even if so the labels are not an argument. After all, "a broken clock is right twice a day." I may be cracked, but not necessarily wrong.

    On the other hand, I should appreciate more those who give my rants some attention. How many others would say "hmmmm...I wonder what Arlo said," and then proceed to Google it?

    Thanks for reading.