Voters and Character

In 1919 when H. B. Alexander wrote his essay,  Education and Democracy, the radio was slowly replacing the newspaper as the preferred source of news. The Great War was finally ending, movies were becoming more popular, and while not obsolete, the print industry was beginning to feel the rise and power of radio. The airways would soon reach into even the most remote corners of America where news, culture, and sports could be heard by any family that bothered to circle around the family radio after the day’s work. Popular shows such as The Grand Ol’ Opera and professional baseball games were broadcast live, and newsworthy events, such as political reports, were reported soon after they happened. The radio was a vehicle that was bringing news to listeners almost as quickly as it happened and perhaps that is why Alexander writes the following in his essay: “Your [citizen] ballot is a judgment of the candidate’s character; and this is exactly what it should be, for this is the one thing that you are qualified, as a voter, to pass upon.”

A philosopher, poet, college teacher, and scholar, H.B. Alexander was responding, I like to think, to the radio’s influence on our Democracy and the new way voters were informed about elected officials. Until the advent of the radio, news more likely arrived later than sooner on printed pages, but the radio gave almost immediate voice to politicians and the chance for voters, as immediately, to evaluate the words and actions of elected officials. Now the voice and tenor of leaders such as President Roosevelt could be heard by American families sitting in their homes. His “fireside chats” by radio comforted an uneasy country during the Great Depression and World War II.

Those broadcasts and others seem crude when compared to the instant news that any person can find all day, seven days a week. The radio broadcast, while still alive, competes with news over a myriad of television channels that can be accessed on television sets, computers, even cell phones. Today voters are informed of political words and acts almost as soon as they are spoken or committed. We now, for instance, can watch our elected school boards, county supervisors, U.S. Senators, and others working for our behalf. With all the cameras and microphones present, there are few, if any secrets, for elected officials to have. The pathetic case of U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham of N.C. is an example of how public the lives of elected officials (and others) have become.

The media reports and we consume as we form opinions of those on which reports are made. What we know of them is what we are told by 3rd parties such as Fox News, ABC, NPR, and a host of other outlets. However, at times we are able to observe our elected officials in action, such as the unfortunate California school board members who disparaged parents on “live mics.” Oops, they all resigned, as they should have. In such a situation, it does not take much insight to see the character, or lack of, in the school board members. The same holds true when we see Senator Cruz returning hastily from a trip to Cancun as his state suffers. We hear his lies about the trip.

Alexander told his readers that they, while not experts in foreign affairs, or economics, or other fields, were qualified to pass upon the character of elected officials. We are much more informed than the voters of 1919, and that information should lead us to assess the character of our elected officials. So when we hear Senator Graham say to “hold my words against me”, we should, and vote him out of office.

We need leaders who are informed on many topics, but they must also be people of character. If they won’t be honest with themselves, they won’t be honest with voters.

Character and Politics (3rd revision)

Recently I shared with a friend how I disagreed with a well-known economic expert and his views concerning the economy and pandemic. My friend listened to my rant and then told me that he knew the man, had worked with him, and admired him. While my friend valued the expert’s opinions, he admired mostly how the fellow had overcome a chemical dependency after years of struggle. All of a sudden for me, the person who had previously been only a one-dimensional figure who appeared in the news, became a human being. While I still disagreed with his economic views, I appreciated and honored his struggle and his success.

I have been thinking about that conversation and how public figures are too often judged by what we see of them in the media. While we are free, as I did, to reach conclusions about the political or other philosophies of public figures, we should be careful about forming any opinions  concerning their character.

According to my on-line etymology dictionary our word character is explained as “The meaning of Greek kharaktēr meant an “engraved mark” and was extended in Hellenistic times by metaphor to mean “a defining quality, individual feature.”

Certainly the economic adviser had led “a secret life” while suffering addiction. Perhaps like many addicts he was successful as “a functional addict” who led two lives. And when he  began battling his addiction that few folks were aware of, they would never know of his battle against it. His, like all who seek freedom from a chemical dependency, was a lonely battle, but he faced his demons and began to understand them. His character is defined by his success at overcoming his addiction, not by it.

I am not a trained economist, but like many citizens, I have opinions concerning that field and others. Fine. But opinions become dangerous when they lead to character assessment and that was my error concerning the economic adviser. I allowed my opposition to his economic views to become a judgement of the person, not just his philosophy. But when I learned of his struggles with addiction, his humanity became more important than his philosophy.

The American poet Longfellow writes, “Every heart has its secret sorrows which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.” The economic adviser is now freed of his sadness, and I hope to free myself of cold assessments of the character of another.

Calm

The television advertisement shows a green plant with its leaves wet from a gentle rain that is the over sound. It is a pleasant and calm scene in which the viewer is asked to do nothing  for a fifteen seconds as a circle winds down the time. The viewer is told that she can download the Calm app for free. When I pulled the Calm,com app up on my phone I read the following: “Calm is The #1 App For Mental Fitness, Designed To Help You Manage Stress. Sleep Better And Live A Happier, Healthier Life. Try Calm For Free Today.”

Wow. All that in capital letters promising a better and happier and healthier life.

Now, I did not load the app onto my phone. My decision is not against an app that promises to calm me and help me manage the stress in my life. It is not, simply put, something that would be of use because I can walk out into our front yard or back garden and be calmed by the sounds of nature.

For instance, during my morning stationary ride  on the screened porch I was gifted enough calming sights and sounds to last the day. A red-bellied woodpecker repeatedly flew from one of the dogwood trees to a feeder returning each time with a sunflower seed to crack open in a crevice of  dogwood bark; the camellia bush held its first deep red bloom in its rich, green foliage; nuthatches scampered up and down the dogwood in a search for grubs or the rights of mating; a high breeze caressed the pine tops; cawing crows glided above us all on a mission known only to them; and  much more. As I rode my five miles, I registered all of this and more because I accepted nature’s gift of the morning, knowing that I may need it later during my day as a reminder of things larger than my life and me.

Modern technologies amaze me, and I use one right now as I type this on my computer. My computer program will correct much of my poor spelling, make suggestions for grammar, and automatically store all these words in whatever folder I  choose. That is convenient and truly awe inspiring. However, all of this cannot compare with the wind passing through the high reaches of the pines or that woodpecker gliding from tree to feeder and back. No machine, “intelligent” or not, can compete with the nuthatches that live in or visit  our back garden.

Yet our culture has evolved into one that is constantly searching for and creating mechanical ways to improve our lives. Our culture is one in which many folks while exercising supply themselves with mechanical means to shut out the world as they walk, ride, or run. It is as if the sounds of nature are invasive, so a chosen man-noise is deemed better than the sounds of nature; even when exercising in an urban area nature is present but will never be heard while captured in a man-made system of noise.

Calm is good, and the Calm.com app is pleasing. Who would not like the rain falling on leaves or more. But we do not need to create it or record it. We just need to walk outside and look for it. Nature waits for you.

Informed Citizens

In 1816, President Thomas Jefferson wrote: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects to what never was and never will be.” In 1919 Professor H.B. Alexander wrote, “The two great institutions upon which Americanism rests are the ballot and the public schools, and the latter are the true preparation for the former.”

While watching the House Managers make their case for the impeachment of President Trump, I was reminded of the above quotations when they quoted more than one Trump Terrorists as saying, “I feel duped” in explaining his or her part in the January 6, 2021 insurrection. I don’t know if any of the “duped” are aware of their accuracy, but they all used the precise word to describe what happened to them because they believed the Big Lie of President Trump.

I am pretty sure that Donald Trump cannot identify the source of “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;” but his Big Lie to unlearned citizens could have used Anthony’s speech as his model. Both men were speaking to a crowd mostly of ordinary citizens; Anthony used irony to appeal to the emotions of his listeners while Trump used the repetition of his Big Lie to create an alternative reality that appealed to his crowd’s emotions. Both speakers succeeded and as his crowd departs to find and kill Brutus and the other murderers of Caesar, Anthony says, “Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot, / Take thou what course thou wilt!” President Trump could have uttered the same words. However, what resulted in both situations is much worse than mischief.

Good speakers sway crowds as did these two. As interesting and important as the two speeches are,  I am interested in those spoken to, the crowds. While Anthony’s speech is in a play, it is a real-life example of what could happen. Trump’s words recently spoken to a modern-day, real crowd are as powerful as those of Anthony. But why did both crowds get driven to such an emotional frenzy? The words of the speakers?

I wrote earlier that the word duped as used by some of the Trump Terrorists is as perfect a word as possible because it carries the connotations of being emotionally used. In the case of dupe, the speaker plays on the emotions of the listener in order to achieve the desired result(s). The Trump Terrorists were duped because Trump played on their emotions and got them to do his bidding. Their feelings of “losing our country”, “it’s not like it used to be” and other feelings of white supremacy were pricked and their anger against anyone but their speaker and themselves overflowed. A good speaker who has said, to paraphrase, I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it, succeeded. His mischief was afoot.

Every person in the crowd who marched to and shared in the attack on the Capitol, is, however, responsible for his or her action. To try and blame President Trump, excusing themselves because he had “duped” them, is a sad excuse. Each member of that crowd carries self-responsibility. And I question their individual and collective awareness of government because how could they believe the Big Lie of Trump week after week? Would they have believed him if he had said the world was flat? How gullible are they? Does their white supremacy rule their intellect?

Jefferson and Alexander warned of the dangers of a poorly educated and informed citizenry. For our form of government to thrive, we depend on our voters being informed. That does not mean we necessarily agree, but it does mean that each of us have sound reasons for how we cast our ballots.  But to be an informed voter means that we each must work to become knowledgeable by searching for information from a variety of sources—newspapers, books, magazines and periodicals, and other reliable resources (social media does not meet this requirement). Each of us should strive to become a learned citizen.

The citizens who heard both speakers allowed emotions to rule. Had they taken time to think about the words they heard, both outcomes would not have been as unfortunate. Citizenship is a privilege which carries responsibility.

Truth. Beauty. Virtue

Many years ago when our oldest granddaughter spent a weekend with us, she took a bath one evening before bedtime. When my wife walked in to check on her, my “scrubby gloves” were lying on the floor. Asked what happened, our seven-year-old granddaughter answered, “They itched me.”  A perfectly fine, and passive, excuse for such an age. She could not accept responsibility for the gloves being on the floor, so the source of the trouble had to be those pesky gloves.

The passive voice is the bane of any serious writer and teacher of composition because it expresses a lifeless, whiney, irresponsible, and dishonest voice. While not grammatically incorrect, the subject in a passive-voiced sentence accepts no responsibility and thus is dishonest.  For example, in such a sentence as, “I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true, and I would ask questions about them and talk about them. And that is absolutely what I regret,”  is a good example of the speaker placing blame for an action onto someone or something else in her first clause. What the speaker is saying is, I was not responsible, it was not my fault.  If the sentence was uttered by a child, such as our granddaughter, it would be accepted, but that quoted sentences comes from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene while explaining a few of her actions. What she is asking us to believe is that she was “allowed” by some force to believe and support such dangerous bunk. She lies to herself and by extension to us.

I have recently “discovered” the Nebraska philosopher and writer, H. B. Alexander who wrote during the early part of the 20th Century. In his 1919 book, Letters to Teachers, he examines the role of public education in order for our democracy to flourish. His words, written in the shadow of the Spanish Flu Epidemic and The Great War still resonate:

 “Here [in his book] I shall but seek to give a broad conception of what qualities in the man a liberal education must cultivate. And these, I should say, are a love and understanding of truth and virtue and beauty. Love of truth means honesty with one’s self….”

Alexander’s language is archaic; however, we all could benefit from a deep understanding of his thoughts. Representative Greene is just one of many people in the public view who use passive-voiced language to sidestep honest responsibility. If we are not honest with ourselves, we cannot be honest with others, so true discourse, which is so needed now, is lost.

Think of the words Alexander uses in the above quotation: Truth. Virtue. Beauty. One may criticize those values as dated, but I suggest that they are timeless and a culture that turns from them will severely suffer.

Yet to have “a love and understanding of truth and virtue and beauty” we must begin with honesty to ourselves and others. Perhaps our public schools, including those at the secondary level, will begin teaching what we need instead of what we want. A poor diet leads to poor health.

The Man Under the Bridge

Yesterday my wife and I drove slowly through a line that snaked around the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. We were there to receive our first vaccine for COVID.

As we moved slowly in the line of cars, I was able to examine the imposing stadium dominating our sight; the new buildings signifying economic growth; the re-furbished buildings that signified gentrification; the construction workers in jeans and muddy boots; cranes and lifts that dotted the skyline; the polite police who directed traffic (and answered questions of mis-guided drivers like me); many, many folks briskly moving to the walk-in clinic; and all the medical workers standing out in the cold giving out forms and shots and aid. It truly was an example of efficiency and the opportunities of  affluence.

According to its website, our health-care provider decided to use the stadium area for a shot distribution site because it is accessible to public transportation. That was, I believe, a just decision because more of us need to be vaccinated in order to be effective against this common enemy. However, in the time we spent moving along in the line, I noticed few people of color either in vehicles or walking to the walk-in clinic. But that is just my observations.

However, I question the overall availability of the vaccine, even when offered at such a convenient site as the stadium. While I applaud the Atrium management and its planning of such a successful event,  it seems we need to do more to vaccinate our more vulnerable citizens by taking the vaccine directly to the disenfranchised areas.

After we received our shot, we sat in three lines of cars, all occupants being required to wait fifteen minutes in case of any adverse reaction. Many health-care workers walked through the lines, ready to help in case of need. Signs were posted directing anyone who felt ill to honk his or her horn and put on the hazard button. Not only was care provided, but preventative care was also present and a comfort. What a good experience, still in the shadow of the stadium and the wealth and affluence it represents. Our wait-time over, we drove out, under the underpass, feeling fortunate.

Then we saw him when we stopped for the red light at Morehead Street while exiting the site. Waiting under the Mint Street Bridge, we saw him just outside our car window. He lay on his back, asleep it seemed even though it was high noon. Only his face was visible, but it was a face of hard days on the streets. His prone, invisible body, covered by filthy rags and blankets, rested on the cold concrete, suggesting his being accustomed to such a bed. Either he or someone else had placed a “Jesus Saves” sign near him. As we waited for the light to change, we looked at him, and then, unlike him and so many other disenfranchised citizens, we were given a green light to leave. Turning  right, we headed to I-77 and home.

Less is More, William G. Duffy on the Gospel of Thomas

William G. Duffy has spent years reading about and studying The Hidden Gospel of
Thomas and now has written a lengthy commentary on the 114 non-dual sayings of Jesus as recorded by Thomas. Duffy takes great care with each saying, examines each thoroughly in a literary manner, and uses other sayings as comparisons of content. That is, for me, the rub.

Duffy has written too much. His examinations are over done and redundant. For instance, in his explication of Saying 107, the parable of the “lost sheep” that is also told in Matthew 18:12-14 and in Luke 15:4-7, he takes two and one-half page to offer his analysis of this well-known parable.

I also question some of Duffy’s interpretations. In his explication of  Saying 82 he states that it was adapted from the Aesop proverb, “Whoever is near Zeus is near the thunderbolt.. The Saying of Thomas is,  “He who is near to me is near the fire. He who is far from me is far from the Kingdom.”  Duffy spends just over two pages to explain how Aesop wrote before Thomas and for him he sees unfounded support for his guess.

Duffy refers to an abundance of scholars; one is Dr. Elaine Pagels and her book Beyond Belief, The Secret Gospel of Thomas. In that book she writes, “When I entered college, I decided to learn Greek in order to read the New Testament in its original language, hoping to discover the source of its power.” Duffy states that “Our copy of the Gospel of Thomas is a translation from either Greek or Syriac into the Sahidic dialect of Coptic”  I suspect that that is one of the issues for Duffy’s work—he reads from translation and that, as Robert Fitzgerald writes is like looking the back side of a tapestry.

I admire Duffy’s efforts and study over the years. I just think his book too long and redundant. Less is more.

A Christian Craftsman

                                            

If you exited I-81 and drove on Stoney Creek Road towards Edinburg, VA you would be forgiven for not noticing his garage, a non-descript two-bay one with its back wall built on the bank of Stoney Creek. Its plain and  hidden presence defined him, but not his work.

For years I lived in the Shenandoah Valley before I noticed the two-word sign stating the presence of his garage. An entrance door next to the two bay doors opened to a small, cluttered office from where he operated the garage. Opposite the door sat his desk on which his computer competed for space with parts catalogues and his ever-present coffee cup. The well-used coffee maker sat on a shelf behind him– always ready to serve anyone who asked. One or two chairs sat for the customers who wanted to wait and read the Daily, but since he was always between shop and computer, it was best to stay moving with him. That way you could gather information about the problem with you car and if you sat you may miss a comment of his about life and its challenges. For instance,  had his son not told me once when I asked where his father was, I never would have known of the prostate cancer. He was, his son told me,  just doing what must be done with another challenge of life. His strong faith gave him that type of serenity, even in the face of cancer.

He and his son worked in the bays making repairs, and the father had the confidence to hire a young high school graduate to help with the work of their busy garage. He believed in the boy, but he also trusted his son and himself to be teachers of what vocational school had left out of the boy’s education. The novice is now a mechanic, and like all of us, he benefitted from time spent with the master of engines and life.

No television was mounted on a wall, but one had a display of his grandchildren in 4-H competition at the county fair.  A hall tree in the corner behind the door was full of hanging, clean uniforms for the three workers.  However, the office was warm and inviting if you wanted function over form. It was designed for work and conversation. If you wanted glitter, you would have been better served elsewhere.

An educator, not a mechanic, I know enough of my cars to  know when I needed someone like him.  Whenever I called for an appointment, he would get me in quickly if I sounded frantic, but if not he would ask, “Can you come over at….” making it sound as if I were doing him a favor by coming by. Every time he serviced a car of mine, I went away feeling great about the work but most of all about the conversation we had shared. It also seemed that any vehicle could be repaired there. Once when I went,  a large John Deere tractor was parked in front of one of the doors. Too large to fit in one of the bays, it was being repaired outside.  But no matter, good, honest work could be performed anywhere.

He and I are almost identical ages, close to three-quarters of a century old. But I never called him by his given first name. For a multitude of reasons, Mr. seemed the best address for him. It was a deference that I made out of respect for such a Christian and craftsman. As our relationship grew, he came to accept my referring to him as Mr., and it was an unspoken understanding between two older men.

It’s been over three years since we moved from the Shenandoah Valley, but I still can see him behind his cluttered desk checking his computer to order a part. I still hear the gentleness in his voice and its belief that if he does not know how to correct a problem in a car, his son  will sort it out and find the solution. His confidence was not arrogance, but belief in something larger than himself.

A few days ago a friend told me of his being in Winchester Hospital with COVID-19. This morning, January 25, 2021 at appropriately 7 AM he died as his wife and two children loved him. We all did.

Ernest Hemingway defined courage as “Grace under pressure.” That is him: A life full of grace, love, and wisdom. He was one of the best of us.

Oh, if only

                                              

Two recent readings of mine have clashed: Who Killed Homer? and The 1776 Report. Who Killed Homer?,  an examination of the demise of the study of classical education, was published in 1998 and the report, commissioned by President Trump,  was released on January 18, 2021. I admit to being late to the killing of Homer, but the premise of the book still resonates, and is in some ways more relevant now than twenty years ago. The authors, Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath,  use many examples of Greek literature to support their argument for the importance of Greek Classics in today’s educational system. One example that I especially enjoyed is their examination of the Antigone as one illustration for the importance of reading such literature today. In short, the book is a good argument for the academy to return to the study of classical literature and language and rid itself of the many “feel good” courses that offer little, if any, stress and questionable value.

Earlier this morning while reading The 1776 Report, the enclosed section grabbed my attention:

 “    The Misuse of History

History tells the story of how our country has succeeded—and at times failed—in living up to the standard of right and wrong. Our task as citizens in a national community is to live—and it is the task of teachers to teach—so as to keep our community in line with our principles.

The purpose of genuine, liberal education is to come to know what it means to be free. Education seeks knowledge of the nature of things, especially of human nature and of the universe as a whole. Man is that special part of the universe that seeks to know where we stand within it. We wonder about its origins. The human person is driven by a yearning for self-knowledge, seeking to understand the essential nature and purpose of his or her life and what it means to carry that life out in relationship with others. The surest guides for this quest to understand freedom and human nature are the timeless works of philosophy, political thought, literature, history, oratory, and art that civilization has produced. Contrary to what is sometimes claimed, these works are not terribly difficult to identify: they are marked by their foundational and permanent character and their ability to transcend the time and landscape of their creation. No honest, intelligent surveyor of human civilization could deny the unique brilliance of Homer or Plato, Dante or Shakespeare ,Washington or Lincoln, Melville or Hawthorne.”(my italics)

The 1776 Report is forty-five pages long and it argues for our educational system to be honest and accurate about our history in order to celebrate America. It wants our educational system to be one that engenders an examination of human nature so as to see and understand the commonality of us all.  Thus, I quote the long section above in order to be objective, but it is  the italicized words that caused me to think of Who Killed Homer?

            Hanson is a committee member for the Report, and I imagine that he argued for many of the names listed above. That excites me, and I agree with him. Yet, I wonder how  many of our students in today’s academy read or have read Macbeth, the Republic, The Odyssey or The Iliad, the Gettysburg Address, or The Scarlet Letter?

            The Report is a rebuttal to many of today’s educational philosophies and practices. However, within its pages are some fine recommendations, such as having our students read and study such literature as listed above. To read the work, not a summary; to discuss it with peers and teachers; to examination it in writing; to justify it for our world. The reading list is a good beginning to help us all become better educated citizens.

            In the section on the Antigone, Davis and Hart write: “If we put aside for a moment the Antigone as great literature and examine the nuts and bolts of its underlying assumptions about man and culture, the play can be as revealing from the values it presumes as from the tensions it raises and the ideas it challenges.”

            I fine many problems with the 1776 report, one being its accuracy in such statement as that President Washington freed all his slaves. However, most publications offer some good and the 1776 report has its own. Its suggestions for reading is an example. Therefore, our students will benefit from our requiring them to  read and understand  A Letter from the Birmingham Jail  while viewing it against Civil Disobedience.

Oh, if only we required such study of our students and ourselves.

Our Kitchen Window

                                             

The small mill house in south central North Carolina had a large kitchen that was the hub of our lives. We cooked there, watched television there, ate there, napped there, too. The clunky oil stove ensured warmth in that room, so during the cold days we huddled there. The south wall held the large cabinet with its sink, which was a white porcelain one that was part drainboard. Above the sink was a double window that looked over our back yard and the chinaberry tree that grew next to the back alley. I spent hours in that tree, climbing and exploring it and life–a haven of sorts for a boy. But it is that window facing south that is etched in my memory.

Not much snow fell in that part of the world, but one year during the mid to late 1950’s, when I was ten or twelve years old, a southern, wet snow arrived. No school was one benefit, but also the snow offered a  chance to earn some money by shoveling walkways.

Putting on as much clothing as possible and grabbing some old shocks to use as gloves, I told my mother that I was going to my friend Michael’s house because he had shovels we could use to move snow. Having her approval to go, I ignored her other command: Not to let my small, white dog go with me.

Sergeant was a medium sized mixed breed. He and I travelled streets together and played in our back yard. He was all a  growing boy needed on such a day, so off we trampled to Mike’s house, only two streets away. Sergeant played as we navigated the deep snow, and Mike was outside waiting for me. Giving me a shovel, he suggested we go to the house opposite his as our first potential customer. Sergeant came along, but as we began shoveling the walkway, he lost interest in our labor and explored for something of more interest. Intent on the work and the excitement of earning some money, I forgot him until I heard his painful yelp. Looking down Chestnut Street, I saw his body lying in the middle of tracks in the snow showing where an oil truck had just passed.

Michael got a small wagon for me to use to take Sergeant home.  I pulled the wagon holding my mangled dog across ruts and slush, wishing so much for the load to lighten. As I neared our house, I looked up to see my mother standing on the porch. She did not scold me but helped me bury Sergeant behind the garage. I built a cross from discarded lumber, painted it a green, and mis-spelled his name when I wrote it in white.

The day that had begun so promising now turned dark. Even the white snow seemed dirty to me. All of it my fault for not obeying my mother. But the grief of that day was only the beginning. For the next two or three days, until the southern sun melted the snow, I would stand at the kitchen window looking out towards the chinaberry tree. All around it were paw-prints of Sergeant’s in the snow, a cruel reminder of my disobedience and lack of responsibility.

Rick Bragg describes some memory as being like a “dark room full of razor blades.” That window is my darkened room. For days I saw Sergeant’s  pawprints which told of my mistake and the price he had paid for my mistakes. Even years later, if I looked out that window toward where the chinaberry tree had stood, my failure to Sergeant would arrive like a darkened room.

Just a kitchen window looking south, but a window revealing a costly shortcoming and lesson learned.