Saturday, December 9, 2017

“Let me love you a little more before you’re not little anymore.” - Anonymous

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
9 December
Little Johnny Stories VII
By the time my son Johnny turned 6 he looked like he was actually maturing. Somehow he had become a hard worker. He could be, and sometime was, remarkably focused, and wouldn’t take no for an answer, but probably like all 6-year-olds he could be a little impatient especially when he got tired. [Know anybody like that?] Anyway, during what might be called his jigsaw puzzle phase I bought him a 75-piece Donald Duck puzzle. The challenge was that 75 pieces probably represented a greater challenge than he could handle at that age. It was certainly more complicated than anything he had ever tried up to that point. Well, initially he got the edge all right, then Donald, then the buildings and the people in the background, then the grass. Eventually all he had left was maybe 20 pieces that represented the blue sky – a remarkably uniform blue sky. I remember he looked like he was getting tired, and a little crabby – eventually he took a blue piece that almost fit the space he chose, and when that piece didn’t quite slide into place, he encouraged it into place with a pounding fist.
Eventually he found that he had a relatively small number of those blue pieces left over and just a few spaces for them to fit into, but no matter how he adjusted and rearranged, none of those remaining pieces would fit in any of the spaces.
The moral of the story: it takes more than a can-do attitude and determination to get the job done. Sometimes it takes a little patience, and the capacity to walk away from a quick fix that doesn’t, like, fix.

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” – Harry Truman

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst:
December 9
What Lincoln called Public Opinion baths took place from 10 - 2 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 10 - 12 on Tuesday and Thursday. For the public it was a fairly simple arrangement: first come, first served. Usually Lincoln would greet each individual with “what can I do for you?” Then he would listen and would promise to do what he could if the request were reasonable. If he was in a hurry to get rid of someone, he would crack a joke and with both of them laughing would ease the caller out the door. Among other things, since these meetings happened so regularly Lincoln had a consistently firm grasp on the concerns of ordinary people. In addition, the meetings served as a tonic in a city like Washington where overweening ambition and hypocrisy had – and, according to some people, still has - a way of warping facts beyond recognition.

'Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.'
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, December 8, 2017

“Make sure your inner child can always recognize you.” – Andre L. Vaughn

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
8 December
Little Johnny Stories VI
Would you believe, little Johnny is NOT his teacher’s pet – he’s as full of life as any bull in a china shop, and his teacher is what you might call fussy. Even so, he can vividly imagine responding enthusiastically when his teacher asks the class, "I need to get this Very Important Message through to the principal right away, even though it is sleeting and snowing; who can I trust to perform this important, dangerous mission?" and little Johnny, who is nearly jumping out of his skin, shouts out, "I'll go! I’ll go!"

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with him.” - Anonymous

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst:
December 8
'No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent.'
- Abraham Lincoln

'An uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth.'
- Mark Twain

Thursday, December 7, 2017

“Kittens are angels with whiskers.” - Anonymous

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
7 December
Little Johnny Stories V
Who’s more capricious - little Johnny or little Fluffy? One day, for reasons known only to the gods and in complete contradiction to everything Charles Darwin ever imagined, Fluffy jumps up onto Johnny’s lap. The reason this is remarkable is that Johnny has been persecuting Fluffy mercilessly for the entirety of that kitten’s short life – turning Fluffy into a living pretzel, pulling great gobs of fur from its tummy, tugging at a tail that can only be described as provocative. In any universe that proports to honor justice, that kitten should know better, and why it doesn’t, why it can’t read its own experience, is one of the great mysteries of the universe. Johnny, of course, is flattered that, in jumping onto his lap, Fluffy has finally Seen The Light. But, as kittens are want to do, especially since Johnny is back to his usual antics, Fluffy makes to leave Johnny’s lap.
It’s Johnny’s introduction to the following concept: “easy come, easy go.” And when Johnny gets a hint of Fluffy’s intentions, he angrily grabs at the last part to leave: that ever-provocative tail. And the harder Fluffy goes in the one direction the harder Johnny pulls in the other. Within a nano-second Fluffy does what any self-respecting feline would do in a similar satiation: go for a little traction, and, well, you get the picture. Johnny’s pride is hurt even more than his legs. The moral of the story: the good that comes without your bidding can as easily leave without you approval. Hopefully, Johnny will have grown up when he blesses all the Fluffies of his life as and when they want to jump off his lap…

“In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” - Anonymous

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst:
December 7
One of the lessons that Lincoln lived by, particularly as the urge to war came to dominate North and South, was the importance of avoiding a rank appeal to naked emotion, a very powerful, seductive temptation indeed. And yet only a few years after Lincoln’s 1865 assassination no less a figure than Lincoln’s former Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was doing that very thing. During the campaign of 1868 Stanton stumped for the Republican presidential candidate Ulysses Grant. Stanton, according to the historian David Donald, ‘swept his Pennsylvania audiences for Grant by reading the Gettysburg Address. Then he said, tearfully, “You hear the voice of Father Abraham here tonight. Did he die in vain?...Let us here, every one, with uplifted hand, declare before Almighty God that the precious gift of this great heritage, consecrated in the blood of our soldiers, shall never perish from the earth. Now -” and he uplifted his hands – “all hands to God. I SWEAR IT!” After which his auditors all presumably went out and voted Republican.’

‘Passion has helped us, but can do so no more. It will in the future be our enemy. Reason – cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason – must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense.’
- Abraham Lincoln