Thursday, June 15, 2006

Good People

I was talking to a friend yesterday who reminded me of a term that's used out in the parts of the country that he and I came from -- I'm from Arizona, he's from Nebraska.

We were talking about how mean our country seems these days. Who would have imagined that America would practice torture, who would imagine the greed and corruption, the unprovoked attacks on other countries? This crazy anti-gay stuff, and the meanness of people like Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, the talk-radio idiots ... the whole point is to be unkind, inconsiderate, and rude.

We were talking about how the upper-crust of the Republican Party, the greedy ones, have carefully cultured the lower level of ignorant, fearful voters, who can be manipulated by just pushing their buttons -- say the word "terrorist," for instance, or "family values," and they'll do anything you want. And the undermining of public education is all part of that; the upper-crust guys can go to Yale and fancy private universities, the voting Republicans' kids never will. It's like what is happening in Montgomery County and other parts of the country, the assault on the public schools, is part of a deliberate effort to prevent critical thinking and keep the ignorant ones ignorant, so the greedy ones can continue to exploit them and get their votes by pushing their buttons. Call me paranoid, I'm just telling you what this guy and I were discussing.

The question my friend and I were discussing was the asymmetry between the Republican and Democratic parties. The Republicans clearly have this strategy of nurturing and exploiting ignorance, and they've got it down to an art -- so who's going to vote for the Democrats?

My friend said, "It's going to be what we call back home the good people."

And that's it, isn't it? Good people. Remember in your old neighborhood, there were the nosy ones, the bossy ones, the imposing ones, the cranky ones, and gossips and nags and cheaters, and then there were good people. These were people who minded their own business, worked hard, cleaned up after themselves, cared for their families. Sometimes they were religious, but sometimes they weren't, that wasn't a requirement to be a good person. Sometimes they got in trouble, but mostly not, and when they did it was some kind of mistake or stupid thing they shouldn't have done, and they knew it, and the other good people knew it and forgave it, because they knew they might do something dumb some day, too.

I've lived and visited all over this country, I've hung out in the dime stores and bars and mom-and-pop restaurants, and the people of the United States never seemed mean to me. I find it a mystery, where the George Bushes and the Ann Coulters find their audience. The people I've met have been smart, hard-working, honest, curious. Oh, they might be broke, or they might get thrown in jail every now and then, or their marriages might fall apart -- I'm not talking about perfect people here.

Good people live and let live. They sympathize with those who are in pain, and sometimes cry out in pain themselves. And when they do, because they're good people, other people care and try to help. Good people know that you don't make it alone in this world, sometimes you need help and sometimes you are able to help other people, and when they can, they do.

Good people aren't always competing with everybody. They do their job, they laugh with and not at people, they might wander off the straight-and-narrow sometimes, or even a lot, but that's not what it's about. They aren't greedy, and they're not suspicious but they're smart enough to see when somebody's trying to take advantage of them.

I've been in nearly every state in the country, and I've seen good people everywhere I've been.

It's hard to get good people excited about political ideas, because they tend to trust other people and figure things will work out. I think a lot of good people went along with the fake justifications for attacking Iraq, for instance, actually believing that their government was being honest with them; a lot of good people don't understand what the gay thing is about, and they might believe what they've been told, but they don't hate people just for being different. Good people tend not to judge you unless you do something to them.

Now that they see that things were not what they thought they were, the good people have to figure everything out again, they need to go back and separate what was true and what was lies, and it's a little tricky if you were just going along believing everything that was said, trusting that other people were good people, too. But the country has come to a point where the good people are going to have to assert themselves. Somebody needs to step up, a leader, and speak for, and to, the good people of America. I really don't care if it's a Republican or a Democrat, but I am not very hopeful that the good people will be very well represented by the Republicans at this point, whose one-party rule has gotten us into this situation in the first place.


Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

I have to run my 12 year old to the library, so real quick...

I think Anne Coulter is a mean person as well (and I think "being nice" is over rated). I have never purchased a book she has written. And as an old professor/now friend of mine (who went to school with Ms. Coulter) recently told me when I asked him about what church she attends replied "the Church of Mammon". She is using Christianity as a bludgeon...shame on her.

Oh, and the other word he used to describe her was "nihilist".

June 15, 2006 4:57 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...


Thank you for stepping back and putting so much in perspective. I plan to pass your essay on to as many people as I can.

June 15, 2006 5:38 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Wow, I've had a chance to read over your original post Jim and I am nearly at a loss on where to begin. Well, I do have an idea...

Ok, everyone here knows that I oppose same-sex "marriage"...does that make me the opposite of a good person, that is a bad person?

Without going thru the original post line for line (as I am not able to at the moment), I do have a single observation to share for the moment. It would appear that contemporary American liberalism affirms as a central belief that conservatives (like myself) are bad people. While I do not speak for anyone other than myself, the conservatives that I read and follow believe as I do that liberals are not bad people - rather, they are simply wrong.

Let me give you a concrete example here...I will be voting for Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave this Fall...not just because she is Republican, not just because she is one of the sponsors of the Defense of Marriage Amendment. No, I will be voting for her because I know her opponent, Democratic candidate Angie Paccione, will act in concert with other Democrats to hinder, not help the President succeed in Iraq. Frankly it is a sad sorry position to be in for a political party, but the truth is this: in order for the Democratic Party to win in the fall elections, America must fail in the war on Islamist terror networks.

In listening to NPR Thursday morning, I heard a report on some of the unintended consequences of the No Child Left Behind Act. It reminded me of how much I dislike all that it has done to public education in the United States. I wish for nothing more than its' repeal, and returning the issue of K-12 education to the States, where the issue belongs in the first and only place. I could get angry and decide to take it out on Bush by voting for the Democrat, but how would that help in battle against international islamist terrorism?

If the US cuts and runs, there will be NO place to liberals and Democrats have a better plan?

June 16, 2006 7:28 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Orin, in my mind, this has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative, and I admit I do not know anything at all about "contemporary American liberalism" (or care). There's plenty of room for good people to disagree about things; some will be more impulsive, some more restrained, etc., and they can discuss and even argue, they might even get crazy and emotional, but eventually some decisions can be made and acted on.

For instance, I disagree with your view on the occupation of Iraq -- I don't think the idea of "winning" has even been defined -- but clearly there is an array of options out there, ranging, let's say, from immediate withdrawal to nuclear annihilation of the entire country. I know good people who advocate views all along that continuum.

It's not the opinion that I'm talking about, it's the way that opinion is expressed.


June 16, 2006 8:19 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

Actually, Orin, I was thinkng about what I just wrote, and I should probably amend it. The kind of people we call "good people" (you know the saying, "That's Joe, he's good people") don't try to solve their problems by killing people, unless that's the only thing that would work and as a last resort. This may address the liberal/conservative dichotomy you perceive.


June 16, 2006 8:38 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

I'm sorry, Orin, I like you pretty much, I really do, even though we disagree on some fundamental issues, but this conflating of Iraq with Islamic terrorism has finally got to stop. One day you will wake up, see the truth that is out there and has been published ad nauseum by now, and recognize the invasion of Iraq was a cruel hoax foisted on the American poeple, and in itself has done more to hurt the battle against Islamic fascism than an other act this country could possibly have done. We don't even control Afghanistan anymore.

June 16, 2006 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On another blog Orin Ryssman wrote "Now there is an interesting assertion by an individual that has no partisan interest in the outcome of this curriculum...yeah, right."

This from a man who asserts "Ok, everyone here knows that I oppose same-sex "marriage"...does that make me the opposite of a good person, that is a bad person?"

Who cares?

Goodness or badness is sometimes like beauty; that is, in the eye of the beholder.

However, admitting you oppose same-sex marriage and are here to "sharpen" your debate skills makes you just as partisan as Ms. Hund.

"Today's youth are smarter than ever...certainly smarter than Ms. Hund."

Are you calling Ms. Hund the opposite of smarter, that is dumber?

Where does that put you on the "good person/bad person" scale in your own view?

June 17, 2006 9:04 AM  
Blogger digger said...


I don't think you're a bad person, even though your opposition to same-gender marriage is hard to swallow.

I agree with you whole-heartedly about the No Child Left Behind Act. It's about nothing less than the dismantling of public schools, and the resegregation of American schools on the basis of ability and class.

Under NCLB, the requirements are stringent, progressive, and designed so that within a few years nearly all public schools will be labelled failing schools. Private and parochial schools do not need to meet the standards (and in Virginia, private school students do not need to pass the SOLs to receive diplomas). When any of dozens of categories of students fails to meet the standards (for example, Hispanic students failing the tests in too great of numbers), any child, even those not in that category, can transfer out of the school. All the studies (all of them) indicate that when this happens, the wealthiest and highest-achieving students transfer, leaving the lower-achieving and less well-off students in the lower achieving school. In my school, what it means is that because too many african american students don't pass the Algebra 1 tests, the kids in Calculus can transfer to Mclean or Langley. It really is about enabling the voluntary resegregation of schools on the basis of ability and class.

Who thought of this?

June 18, 2006 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I've got an idea. Maybe Jim should join the "Good People" club and stop trying to tell everyone else what their kids should be taught!

Fifty Thrice

June 19, 2006 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my Jim has a fan club of one in "Fifty Thrice" At least "Fifty Thrice" found a good role model.


June 19, 2006 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So let's be sure we got this right. It is OK for Fifty Triple Lutzes to "tell everyone else ... their kids should be taught" to practice chastity until one-man/one-woman marriage because that's what the Bible says (or does it?) but it's not OK for MCPS to tell our teens what the AMA, APA, and other professional mental health and medical associations have learned about human sexuality via scientific inquiry.

You are really quite amusing, Fifty. Thanks for the Triple laughs!

June 20, 2006 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a scientific fact:

If everyone "practice chastity until one-man/one-woman marriage", deadly STDs would disappear from the planet.

Nifty Ice

June 20, 2006 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which scientific study did you glean that from????????


June 20, 2006 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

"If everyone "practice chastity until one-man/one-woman marriage", deadly STDs would disappear from the planet."

This statement is true, however, it is also very unlikely. We already know that 88% of US teenagers who sign abstinence pledges fail to remain chaste until marriage.

Rereading last year's story about abstinence programs on 60 Minutes is interesting. The White House opinion was provided by none other than Claude Allen.

Aunt Bea

June 21, 2006 11:44 AM  

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