Two topics, for some reason, seemed to dominate the social preponderance this past week—at least it seemed so to me. The first topic was character-building; the second one dealt with local politics.
And, since I’m not an expert in either of these areas, I’m going to be as brief as possible. But since the topic came up FOUR time this past week, I’ll start with CHARACTER.
I’ve literally lost count of the number of times over my lifetime that I’ve heard people proclaim: “Adversity builds character.” Yes, it sounds so damn profound, absolutely wisdom-oozing. But, personally, I think it’s a load of crap.
Everyone who’s ever faced true adversity knows that all it really creates is a seemingly endless trail of anxiety and the usual attendant agitation.
But the fact is that humans don’t pop out during the birthing process with mature “character” pre-installed; it’s something we have to develop as we grow in maturity.
Temper tantrums in small children are inevitable until their parents or guardians teach them otherwise. But the same conduct is NOT acceptable in older children, and most certainly not so with “supposed” grown-ups.
As has always been the case, human character comes from one source. It stems entirely from the way we were raised and the way we’ve been taught to deal with whatever life throws at us—those rough spots that, if we learn to deal with them properly, tend to elevate our emotional IQs.
So, character may be acceptable or not, good or bad, if you prefer. But the ONLY role adversity plays in the equation is to identify whatever character that’s already been established . . . ACCEPTABLE or NOT, GOOD or BAD.
This business of “adversity creating character” ranks right up there with another often misused proclamation: “Things always work out for the best.”
This is a big crock of philosophical baloney, as well. And the late, great basketball coach, John Wooden, said it best. “Things always turn out for the best ONLY for those who have decided to make the best of the way things turn out.
And now, for the politics component, I’ll be even briefer. The following quote by the late George Bernard Shaw sums it all up nicely. “Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”
Criticize Congress all we want, but WE, the citizens of this country, put them there. And NOTE that I said “citizens,” NOT “voters.”
In a representative democracy, we, the people, elevate others into elective office whether we vote or not. And if we do vote, it usually isn’t that we’re voting FOR someone; we’re usually voting AGAINST their opponents.
Speaking for Delaware—unofficially, of course—most of our elected officials at the national and state levels have been there since Christ was a cadet.
U. S. Representative John Carney and U. S. Senator Chris Coons are two exceptions, but they’re just getting started. And, assuming that neither of them does anything EXTRAORDINARILY stupid, or decides to retire early, BOTH will hold office for decades.
The same holds true at the state level—with the exception of governor, which is restricted to two consecutive terms. But members of the General Assembly, however, face no such restrictions, and once elected, usually stay there for life.
Delaware is the 48th LARGEST state in the union. Of course, this is simply a boastful way of admitting that we’re the second SMALLEST state. In fact, as to our landmass area, we consist of a measly 1,948.5 square miles. Let me put this into a more meaningful perspective.
In terms of our physical size, we could fit about 23-DELAWARES into ONE Pennsylvania. Yep, we’re physically SMALL! But, what we lack in physical size, we more than make up for in the size of our political bureaucracy.
According to my count, we currently field 105 local and national elected positions: 2-U. S. Senators, 1-U. S. Representative, 6-members of the state executive branch (Governor, etc.), 21-state senators, 41-state representatives, and 34-county offices (19 in New Castle County, 9 in Kent County, and 6 in Sussex County.
And this does NOT include the 57-additional incorporated municipalities within this state, each with its own horde of elected officials (mayors, etc.): 13 in New Castle County, 20 in Kent County, and 24 in Sussex County.
Now, I don’t have an exact count on the actual number of elected officials per incorporated municipality, but it’s a very safe bet to assume the count is at least another, combined, 105-total officials.
So, for a state small enough to fit into Pennsylvania 23-TIMES, we’ve managed to tax-burden ourselves to a point of having an elected official for approximately every 9.25-square miles of landmass. Or, if you prefer, an elected official for every 4,400 residents of the state.
Do we need all of this? NO WAY? Will the people of this state do something about it? MAYBE!
But we should keep our eyes peeled to the EAST for a sign; because the last time something of this great a magnitude took place, a star is said to have risen there. And, YOU all—I’ll be long dead by then—CERTAINLY won’t want to miss THAT!