Keeping it simple

Babies, we have heard, are the best judges of character…

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

Have you noticed how nothing is simple anymore?

What had been a simple question up until about a year ago, like “Where do you work?” now might have a meandering, vague, even contradictory meaning.

Do you mean physically where? As in upstairs in a spare room, down the hall from the kitchen or at a local coffee shop?

Or did you mean when? Or even which company? Or project? Since so many of us work for more than one employer or are even running our own “side hustle” at different times of the day, you would never know which “one” we were working for at that precise moment.

Some of us might just as easily be working at five a.m. as at noon or eight p.m. or midnight.

If we are getting work done, why would it matter what time it was?

And the reality is, for most jobs, why did it ever matter?

We, on occasion, might need to intersect on time zones or for video meetings, but, for much of what we do, for better or worse, it could be done any time.

I find myself working on Sunday afternoons as often as Monday mornings. Or 4 am as likely as 4 pm.

As a writer and researcher, the bottom-line reality is that inspiration comes when it comes. And I do my best to catch it when it does.

“It’s complicated” might be the best answer.

As 2021 has progressed, I’ve re-established communications with a cousin of mine who has lived his whole life in Kansas.

The terrain, the weather, the economy, the politics, even the faith there could be described in one word – “austere”.

From what he tells me, no one, and nothing is forgiving.

And things that make no sense to me, make perfect sense to him.

“False flag” mass murders created by “the liberal media” to engineer a government program to confiscate our guns? That makes sense to him. (It’s been an unbelievable failure since gun sales are at record highs)

Trump-flag waving Antifa warriors storming Washington D.C. to make Republicans look bad? Sure, that seems reasonable to him.

Or Jewish Space lasers to start California wildfires to clear the way for a high-speed rail system? Yes, that makes sense to him.

Any simple explanation (or attempt at looking at either the facts or the most likely possibility) is a lost cause.

And, from what I hear from other friends and family members, I’m not alone in having people in my life who not only believe “alternative facts” but seem to live in a purely alternative parallel world – a world with assumptions and beliefs so bizarre I can barely follow them.

Their heroes don’t have names – they have titles or terms like “The Qanon Shaman” (who expects specially prepared organic food in his jail cell, after inspiring the siege in Washington D.C.) or “the MyPillow guy” who spouts more ridiculous theories each day and complains that “cancel culture” (as a short footnote, refusing to support a business based on its public stance is as old as history. In a simpler time we used the word “boycott” – and didn’t whine about it) is censoring him (even though he’s on TV or radio almost every day) or the newly elected representative who denies 9/11, promotes the Jewish Space laser fantasy and is convinced that the COVID vaccine is a One World Government scheme to re-engineer our DNA, denies most school shootings – and yes, has been appointed to an education committee.

We are in an era when nonsense is so common that we don’t even notice it.

And we barely recognize decency, integrity or wisdom when we see it either.

There’s an ancient saying that the image of true wisdom is the sight of an old man looking into the eyes of a newborn baby.

The implied question is, which one holds the most wisdom?

The old man has acquired experience and, we presume, some wisdom acquired at a not too terribly high price.

The percentage of cynical old men is testimony to how difficult that journey can be.

The newborn infant, on the other hand, knows, in every cell of its body, that existence is a pure gift, that food, comfort and safety are all that is really needed.

Being held, fed and kept clean are all that a baby needs.

Babies, we have heard, are the best judges of character. They, like many animals, seem to know instinctively, who is safe, worthy or even interesting.

They seem to know what most of us have forgotten, and what a few humans among us have put into words.

Here are a few words that might remind us of what really matters among the noise and distractions.

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out. – Thomas Macaulay

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. – Abraham Lincoln

Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value. Look around at how people want to get more out of life than they put in. A man of value will give more than he receives. Be creative, but make sure that what you create is not a curse for mankind. – Albert Einstein

We adults complicate things into intricate knots and contradictions. We find it easier – if not more exciting – to believe crazy nonsense, especially if it allows us to find companionship in panic and self-pity.

We have become something like addicted to the shrill and self-serving among us. Somehow we’ve come to believe that power and privilege are things to be grasped and protected, not shared and nurtured.

Babies know better. Babies are not impressed. Babies know that those people are toxic to everything they touch – even themselves.

We could learn a lot from a baby.