When Did I Get So Old?

No, this isn’t about having my glasses on while I was shaving and seeing the real me. It isn’t about having to go to physical therapy to help come with the side effects of all the medications efforting to keep me alive.

It’s about my reaction to the new democrats cursing to their constituents.

Now, politicians have forever been cursing at their constituents. Most recently, the shutdown of our federal government forcing TSA searchers looking for a handout instead of through a handbag, sending Coast Guard members cruising soup kitchens instead of the shores of America. While both parties and the president decried this terrible state of affairs, they collectively raised the one finger salute to let these government workers know how they really felt.

But for me, when the words fuck and motherfucker are used in a televised speech, it lacks a certain statesmanship quality that I aspire my leaders to possess. After all, JFK said “Ask not what your country can do for you…”  rather than “Don’t us what the fuck America can do for you.”

Nevertheless, I have had a change of heart if not a full-blown epiphany.

On April 24, 1971, I was in Washington DC with Peter, Paul, And Mary and Country Joe McDonald.

There happened to be hundreds of thousands of other people there too, but I like to remember it as a more personal occurrence.

The point is that after Peter, Paul, And Mary and I sang Blowin In The Wind, Country Joe and I did a rousing rendition of  The Fish Cheer, made famous by Country Joe And The Fish at Woodstock.

So, there I was with Country Joe and several hundred thousand others, yelling in response to Country Joe’s exhortations to spell along with him. We yelled our reply when he bellowed “GIVE ME AN F,” and we gave him his requested F. When he followed with “GIVE ME A U,” we chanted U. Before I knew it, we sang C and K and then when he thrice demanded, “WHAT’S THAT SPELL”  I shouted FUCK FUCK FUCK.

It was no mere profanity, it was a revolution. It was a call to arms against an enemy who took over our country. Sadly not everyone in America was as enraged by the Viet Nam war as those of us on that beautiful Saturday in April 1971.

Our country was divided back then even more than it is today.  In fact, Viet Nam represents the birth of American division.

So, when I heard those two Democrats use the profanity, I heard them with sixty-eight-year-old ears and not the twenty-year-old ears that heard Country Joe lead his cheer. It took my memory of that day nearly forty-eight years ago to understand these new Democrats.

My concern was not that the language was offensive or inappropriate but that it might trigger a retreat from the Democratic base. I never liked when the Democratic party became the party of the extreme. Americans do not want extremists in power of whatever slant. We pray to God that Nazis do not take over the Republican Party. I also pray to God that the extreme left also fails to rise to dominate the Democratic Party.

Democrats need to remember that the diversity of ideas is as important as the diversity of people. It is important to recognize both and to welcome both and to be tolerant of both.

So, I understand the frustrations and zeal for change that often results in the use of language not ordinarily heard in the halls of government. I also cannot turn stones at those who utter such phrases as my family will be only too willing to remind me.

But, it is hoped that we can also speak in terms of forgiveness and gratitude and that the harping on tweets and sound bites are replaced with understanding and accommodation.


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