Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I recently spoke with an old friend who lives down in south Georgia, one of those capital F friends who are few and far between. He's also a terrific example many of us can do well emulating. With his permission I cite him often. 

Boo, short for Booster, unlike our BooBoo Bear, although both have a similar single mindedness when they're on a mission, lives off of exit 1 coming north out of Florida. He's a man's man, worked as a millwright in a paper mill for 23 years... hot, hard work in a rather inhospitable environment where not only can one get eaten up in any number of huge machines, but there are dangerous chemicals around that can easily cause a slow, painful, and sure, death. It takes a lot of nasty stuff to chip up a pine log, then break those chips down so they aren't too raspy on our bottoms and noses, or to make pages for books, or stationary, or newspapers, or paper plates, or any number of other paper products, even card stock our politicians use so freely to send multiple mailings out come election time.

He was also one of those dastardly union members the Republican elite like to demonize, but one who understands the first law of the universe; it's a man's responsibility to protect his family. I'll have to ask my favorite TreeHugger some time about the dichotomy there, protects his family but kills trees. One might suppose that has the makings of a real love/hate relationship in some circles. But I digress. 

It was unusual to speak to Boo this early in the winter season. He generally waits until late January or early February, the coldest part of the year, then keeps an eye on the weather here in east Tennessee. When our temperatures are down in the teens, he calls. The first time he really suckered me.

"Hey Reb, how's the weather up there?" 

"Colder than a well digger's [tush], down in the teens." 

"Yeah, been cold down here too. I had to put a t-shirt on this morning." 

Bboo's always called me Reb. It's my initials. He also accuses me of being a bit of a non-conformist who doesn't think like most people. I disagree, but if that's true it isn't my fault. I'm a junior. My Granny started it.

But my buddy Boo hasn't always been so jovial and happy-go-lucky. When we met on-line a bunch of years ago he was trying to rescue his pre-school sons from a horrible situation... he, living almost in Florida, doing battle in the courts with his wife, their mother, who had moved with them so far north in Kentucky it was almost Ohio, had become a full ride welfare queen, gotten involved with serious drugs, and was enjoying altered states of consciousness with some really seedy characters. Not a good scene for those children, to say the least, and ol' Boo was flopping around like a fresh caught bluegill on the bank of a pond trying to figure out how to protect them. Then one day he called, we'd never spoken before, sounding like he was feeling lower than whale, um, stuff. 

During the course of our all evening discussion he came to realize our system isn't bad, there are just some folks who refuse to follow the rules and they sometimes have to be forced to play by those rules they've voluntarily, knowingly, and willingly committed to abide, whether they like them or not. He realized it's incumbent upon those who don't like the rules to change them in the proper manner and not arbitrarily at their whim... much like the Hamilton County GOP was forced to amend their bylaws when some of the unwashed, the commoners, busted them for playing games. Boo came to realize that in order not to be run over by those who wouldn't abide by their own rules he had to not just know, but understand those rules so he could rap them, figuratively, on the knuckles with a ruler when they didn't. In his case he had to insist the law be followed, and in order to do that he had to know and understand the law as it was written.

He figured out that, just like at the mill when there was a breakdown of equipment, he had to proceed with his quest in a cool, calm, and collected manner. Relax, there's always time to fall all to pieces later... after the emergency is over. I asked him to think about some of the antics his courtroom opponents had pulled and their timing, then suggested they were all designed to cause maximum negative reactions. What is the usual response when someone is served with a court document, late on a Friday afternoon, accusing them of being a child molester or spouse abuser... when they can't contact an attorney until at least Monday? The best way is to repeat a phrase over and over borrowed from my all time favorite t-shirt, back in 1975 (that talk radio screamer isn't the least bit original), the one we had the most difficult time keeping in stock back when I had a little t-shirt business on the side while in the service, "Non Illigitimus Carborundum." Loosely translated, "don't let the [not nice person] wear you down." 

Relax, non illigitimus carborundum.

Boo went to work. He was on a mission and, like our BooBoo Bear working over the deer leg he dragged home recently, he was single minded about it. Instead of flopping around like a bluegill in the grass, he was working toward a goal, and with a plan of action. 

Occasionally, time permitting, Boo would stop in for coffee while passing through Chattanooga on the way to or from Kentucky. Sometimes he'd need a reminder... Non illegitimus carborundum... relax, breathe slow, breath deep... but he stayed the course he'd embarked upon. He began to realize some successes in the courtroom, a foreign court, a small town court where he was no way no how one of their homies. He forced them to follow the law, their own rules.

Then came the phone call. "Man, we're coming home. Me and the boys, we're coming home. Can you be at that Waffle House where we always meet in a few hours?" 

Christmas in August.

Somewhere between stone tablets or hand written term papers and our current availability of e-mail via the internet, there were FAX machines. Even before FAX machines there were electric typewriters and copiers. Somewhere in there, the days of electric copiers, there was a joke floating around that went something to the effect of “This firm requires no physical fitness program. Everyone gets enough exercise jumping to conclusions, flying off the handle, running down the boss, flogging dead horses, knifing friends in the back, dodging responsibility, and pushing their luck.”


What if we combine that with my buddy Boo's experience, Booster not BooBoo, with stepping back, breathing deep a few times, and relaxing a bit before jumping to conclusions. 

Relax... breathe deep... could it be that had some media folks done this when a White Latino dude shot a black dude down in Sanford, Florida, instead of calling for stricter gun control laws they might have waited for additional information to surface, that perhaps autopsy results would reveal Trayvon Martin had only two injuries on his body, a fatal gunshot wound and bloody knuckles, while White Latino George Zimmerman also had injuries... including a broken nose, two black eyes, and cuts on the back of his head. Bummer. 

Relax... breathe deep... might we have seen that James Eagan Holmes didn't go to just any old movie theater, nor did he go to the closest one to where he lived. No, he went to the only one close by that explicitly restricted possession of personal weapons. He wanted to be assured no one would be firing back. More calls for control.

Relax... breathe deep... look at facts. Who have the perpetrators of all massacres in our nation been? Felons, minors, and others who do not possess weapons legally in the first place are the primary actors in these incidents. But those with an agenda, some of whom aren't even US citizens, will call for the rest of us, we who have not committed any crimes, to surrender our weapons... and our liberty. 

Relax... breathe deep... watch a movie, perhaps one like 1959's The Mouse That Roared. Not only is Jean Seberg, fine specimen of feminine gender that she was, pleasing to the eye, but the satire is wonderful, and as applicable today as it was then. My favorite is their reasoning for running around New York City shouting "Emergency! Emergency!" The book wasn't bad either, but didn't have Jean Seberg.

Relax... breathe deep... and realize that police chiefs, and former chiefs, are politicians in their own right, which produces an interesting dichotomy. We have chiefs on the one hand advocating disarming the public while beat cops, the guys on the front lines, more often than not tell us they want to know the good guys have their own weapons and are backing them up. One might additionally ask retired Chief Cooper who actually captured Jesse Matthews almost 2 years ago. Was it the chief? Or was it armed citizen Mr. Harlan Murray. From court testimony documented here on [], it's rather obvious that had Mr. Murray not had the courage, and the tools, including stones, to stop and detain Matthews, Matthews might have gotten away. The chief advocates nothing more than dependence of citizens on government, when the cavalry never arrives until the damage has already been done. It isn't their fault, just a fact of life. 

Relax... breathe deep... we're told there's a health care crisis in this nation. But it's been caused by government, if we look at facts and follow the history, a government that wants us to turn to them for resolution of the problem they caused.

Relax... breathe deep... we're told there's a fiscal crisis in this nation. Who caused it? There's plenty of money being taken from citizens with the aid of a government gun. Who's spending it? On what? Not even they know. But they want us to give them more. So they can fritter that away too? 

Relax... breathe deep... our Republican Congress tells us Democrats are spending too much money. Democrats tell us Republicans won't negotiate. Democrat and Republican pundits, political hacks of all colors who've never had a real job, or were never very successful if they did, tell us they have all the answers. But these would presume to tell people who are successful at conducting their own lives 24/7/365.25 they must give more, including control of their daily lives, to government, geniuses they are?

Relax... breathe deep... our Republican "leadership" blames our President for all financial ills, him and his administration. Defund him. That's spelled D-E-F-U-N-D, like as in hide the wallet and all the credit cards. Oh yeah, and let's also take away everybody else's toys too, while we're at it. Those continuing resolutions, with standard increases, do nothing more than allow the abuses to continue. Interesting. Is that why they call them "continuing resolutions?" 

Relax... breathe deep... perhaps more of our self proclaimed "leaders" should take a lesson from my friend Boo. Stop flopping around like a fish on the bank, figure out what the problem is, develop a plan to attack the problem, then work that plan instead of trying to stick a band aide on a slashed artery... instead of worrying about future political ramifications of their actions now.

Booster has commented a number of times "You all gave me the courage to keep fighting for my boys." I always disagree with him. To be sure, several of us helped out from time to time, and maybe we did catch him before he hit the concrete a time or two, but we never had to throw him back in the ring. He jumped in the first time, and every time they threw him out he got back up... bloodied or not, he always got back up. It was he, just a common, everyday, union millwright working in a paper mill, who had the courage to jump right back in again, and kept doing it until his sons were safe. 

And even in matters of principle, what do our politicians do?

Back in the 60s we used to talk about "vibes." Pulling up to the Waffle House at the Raccoon Mountain exit that late summer afternoon so many years ago, the vibes were unmistakeable... even out in the parking lot. Watching Daddeo, still on an adrenaline high from the morning's events, with those two little rug rats crawling all over him like he was a brick of cheese was a sight to behold. 

So it's okay that Boo starts every call with "Hey Reb! What's the weather like up there?" because I get to reply with "Whaaaa... I'm not sure I can do that on my own." But the story behind my reply is better left for another day.

Three hours, 1 minute, 47 seconds... the man who first stated (and it was way back in the old days) the three primary means of mass communication are tel-a-phone, tel-a-graph, and tell-a-woman certainly never listened in to me and Boo catching up on the past couple of years.

Royce Burrage

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