ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Feathers are flying!

© Another Day in the Country

It’s impossible to make a move without ruffling some feathers. Even in this column, which is usually quite benign, it happens. A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to write on the subject of politics — current events — completely ignoring my Grandma Schubert’s advice to keep politics and religion out of dinner-table conversation and columns! My column wasn’t quite right. “You’re missing an important point,” said my sister. I needed to rewrite it. I’ve been working on it for three weeks!

Grandma was right. These days, nothing engenders more heated discussion than whether it’s best to be a Republican or a Democrat. Our country has been fractured many times in our short history. We the people have been asked to grapple with slavery, women’s rights, war, abortion, equal rights, labor laws, farm subsidies, immigration, global warming — all important subjects, all seeking a sane solution. And here we are again, with debates, discussions on debates, advertisements ad nauseum, and a million opinions on what’s best and who’s best.

Last week, in the midst of all this heady political discussion, I attempted to wash a feather bed. We’d used this feather bed for several years and it was time for a clean-up. It was small, twin size, and I have a big washing machine. Yes, I know some would say this was a silly idea. I was encouraged in this pursuit, wildly optimistic, since I’d just washed some down pillows with good results.

When the wash cycle was complete, I returned to discover a hole in my rationale as well as one in the feather-bed ticking. To my utter dismay, I now had a very clean feather tick and a machine full of very wet feathers. With the best of intentions, I found myself with a huge mess on my hands.

And what does this have to do with politics? Maybe, like me and the feather bed, our president who campaigned for change, knowing there were things in Washington, D.C., that needed to be cleaned up, discovered massive holes in the economic feather-bed when he actually got to D.C.

Whew! Watch the feathers fly! We did watch as political leaders either worked to help contain the economic mess or refused to help and stood on the sidelines. We all wished (and maybe some of us expected) the president of the United States to be a magician and put all the feathers back in the casing with the stroke of a pen; but this was impossible.

These past few years things have been rough all over our country. The car industry, an American staple, was in trouble. We all were in trouble, economically. Wall Street was about to crash because of reckless greed. Everyone was angry and wanted someone besides themselves to fix it. It was so easy to point and blame.

Anyone can say, “I’ll do this, I’ll fix that!” but unless they are standing in the utility room with their hands in the feathers they haven’t the foggiest notion what they can really accomplish. So what’s a body to do? You can call for help. You can beg for understanding. What you need when the feathers are starting to fly is a Congress and a Senate full of helpers who’ll put their hand in to contain the problem.

You can bet, I called for help! “Bring a big black garbage bag,” I said to my sister. “I need more hands.” She came, four hands helped, we threw out as much as we could and I’ve cleaned that washing machine and re-cleaned it. I’ve run several cycles of clothes through, and I’m still picking off feathers. Every time I sweep the floor or turn on the vacuum there’s more feathers. Every time I run a load through the dryer, there’s feathers. No quick fix. I’ve got to be realistic. Eventually, my problem will be solved and I can go on to other topics.

The process of mending a system or cooperating for the greater good, falls under the category of slow, hard work, like picking up feathers, and it doesn’t just depend on Washington, D.C., or who is elected. It begins with us, we the people, and our willingness and determination to work for the greater good. It depends on our sense of ethics, our fairness, our treatment of those around us, right here in Marion County.

I’ve learned a lot from my encounter with feathers and politicians this season. Getting our country, our county, our neighborhood on the right track is going to be slow, hard work; but we can do it if we work together, on another day in the country.

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