What a world. I spend an evening looking at a friend’s video he shot in Uganda, impoverished people dancing with hands over their heads, overjoyed that a well has been dug and they can drink good water without having to hike for miles.
The next day I read about a foundation grant to create storytelling programs in small towns to create radical reimagining of narratives that lead to healing.
And then the Boy President on TV with German Chancellor Angela Merkel looking at him and thinking, “Who is that old game-show host standing at the podium? What movie am I in?”
The Ugandans are firmly in touch with reality: good water is a beautiful thing. Drink it and praise the Lord.
For the storytelling program people, I say: good luck with that and don’t forget to serve a good lunch.
As for the man at the podium, you wish that he maybe leveled with her in private (“I have no idea what I am doing most of the time and it scares me to death.”) and she said, “Call me whenever you like. Remember, 3 a.m. is 8 a.m. my time. I’m up, I’m happy to take your call.”
Reading the news, I think of Solomon, who said, “The thing that has been is the thing that shall be; and the thing that is done is that which shall be done: there is nothing new under the sun.” That sounds like a joke to me, one that must have been a hoot among the Children of Israel but now is lost in translation.
Same with “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” That’s the essence of comedy right there.
Reams have been written about the Democrats’ losses in 2016 and here is my analysis, in fewer than 50 words:
The Democrat ran out of gas and walked to the gas station to buy some, and the station attendant had no gas can, only a chamber pot, so he filled that up for her and the Democrat took it back to the car and poured it into the gas tank and people driving by thought, “She is nobody I’d care to ride with, that’s for sure.”
Okay, 66 words. So I lied.
The nothing-new-under-the-sun view of things is not the view that the speakers at our graduation ceremonies put forth; they seemed to believe we were the vanguard of a new era of enlightenment and progress and now here we are with this wildly ignorant man who would be more believable as the leader of Aruba or Barbados, who would get in the news once in awhile for his belief that he is descended from dolphins and that cashews are a cure for cancer.
My feeling about Trumpism is that it demonstrates the value of hoeing and weeding in human development.
Lawn-mowing, vacuuming, laundry — very important, too, but digging in dirt is basic to civilization, and the children of privilege who missed out on that chore are incomplete human beings.
I remember the long row of corn extending over the hill and beyond, the sun above, the dust in my mouth, as I chopped at the weeds, a job that seemed endless so you found thoughts to occupy your mind. Reciting poetry helped, Bible verses, song lyrics, limericks, and when you ran out, you invented your own.
The Ugandans know about this, and so do you and I.
Barefoot in the warm earth, hoeing up milkweed, thistles and quackgrass in favor of onions, peas and sweet corn, you learn about steadiness and humility and attention to the facts of the matter.
And now, years later, you realize that writing a column of 750 words is not so different from hoeing. Is this president able to put a pencil to paper and write a succession of thoughts? It would seem not.
He has impressions but there is not much thinking going on. He hears things that please him and repeats them, like a magpie making a nest.
He has no idea how to grow vegetables. We are all in danger.
Garrison Keillor is an author, radio personality and weekly Washington Post columnist. He will appear onstage at Tacoma’s Pantages Theatre on April 13.