Don Singley: Kudos

NOTE:  After the Wednesday debates, Don Singley sent a personal commentary which he headed “Kudos”.  I asked permission to share it as a blog post, which he granted, and I published under “Don Singley: Kudos” on October 16.  All was well, except the copy would not double space, as on the original.  So, the original of this piece remains at October 16, and this time I’ll type in the copy and see if that works!  Computers are still imperfect.

A strong recommendation  Yesterday, I went to the film Where’s my Roy Cohn, the story of the notorious, infamous and famous lawyer, Roy Cohn.  My opinion, it is an outstanding movie, held over for another week at the Edina Landmark theater in my area, likely soon to be on netflix and other similar outlets.  I highly recommend it.  Similarities between Cohn and the person who made the quote that is the movie title are not coincidental….   the film is a good use of your time – a civics lesson.

Now, Don Singley: Kudos.  Oct 15, 2019

I didn’t watch the first two debates, and I wasn’t planning to watch this one.  But as the hour grew late, I decided to turn it on for  few minutes.  I happened to tune in just as the last question was asked, which I gather was something like, “How has resilience been important in your life?”  I tuned in just as Joe Biden gave his answer – starting with his father walking the stairs to their second-floor apartment and having to tell his family that he had lost his job, so they had to move out, and continuing through Joe’s many tragedies, all of which he rose above. Then Elizabeth Warren told her story of fighting her way to the right path, then Bernie, and so on. When the replies reached Beto O’Rourke, who told the story of the city he had grown up in, El Paso, and its resilience in the wake of the tragic mass shooting there, I was weeping.  On to Pete Buttigieg, who decided to come out in the middle of a re-election campaign in socially conservative Indiana.  Then to Amy [Klobuchar], who said that it was grace that led her father and her to the truth.  Even the ones who hadn’t had personal tragedies affect them – Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, Yang, and Julian Castro – showed admirable moral fiber and fortitude.

Those qualities are in stark contrast with our current president, who has not the smallest bit of either moral fiber or fortitude.  But, as several of the candidates said, this campaign – and this government – are not about people like Donald Trump.  There have been corrupt politicians, and horrible policies, in many areas, and Democrats and Republicans alike have sometimes been to blame.  The way forward is to get to a reasonable approximation to the truth, then refine this approximation in the crucible of reality and the possible, which – even in the best of times – is a struggle.

The point of this e-mail is to commend the two addressees, Dick Bernard and JoAnn Ward, both of whom I have known personally and have worked with politically.  You are both true American heroes.  You have worked tirelessly to improve our communities, our state of Minnesota, and our lives.  Count yourselves among those honored tonight.  And your spouses share in your honor.

The night before Mr. Trump’s rally, last Wednesday, my friend Kaia and I were both “in the dumps” and needed an uplifting evening.  Usually the Cedar Cultural Center has programs only on weekends, but they are running a World Cultural Festival, so they had an additional show that night – a musician named Samite (“Sam-i-te”), who played the flute and was from Africa.  So we went.  It was not only uplifting, it was inspiring.  He was from Uganda, and his entire family had been destroyed by Idi Amin.  He himself spent ten years in a refugee camp in Kenya, and finally managed to reach the United States.  After achieving a successful career in just three years (he is a superb musician), a friend approached him and asked him to help by flying back to Africa and working in the refugee camps in Rwanda and Burundi (just after the genocide) and Liberia.  He agreed, and he told many stories about bringing people who were basically in catatonic shock back to reality through music.  He shared several other tragedies in his life since his return; his response can be summarized by the name of his latest album, “Resilience”.  The struggles in America are only part of a world struggle and the qualities exemplified by all of those people will be essential in achieving , to use Amy’s words, grace.


Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found

T’was blind but now I see


Through many dangers, toils and snares

We have already come

T’was grace that brought is safe this far

And grace will lead us home.


from Jeff: I don’t read every one of your missives, but I read Don’s comment.  Well done.

from Jerry: Thanks for this article, Dick.  I agree that you deserve credit for your social justice work through the years.

from Christina: I have been so depressed with the weather,not getting into the wet fields ,crops not getting enough sun to mature,no prices, and politics. I watched the debates and heard what Don Singley heard, O, how I needed Don Singley’s Thoughts Toward a Better World . Thank you Don Singley and Thank you Dick for passing it on.

from Fred, in turn from his friend, Bill:

Thanks for your reply. In general I’ve usually felt that memorials of the past—buildings and monuments—houldn’t be subjected to editorial interference in order to make our predecessors conform to current tastes.  If a different message is wanted, at least create a new monument or a new building as its vehicle.  I read Orwell too early:

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered.  And the process is continuing every day and minute but minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
The supersession of the physically printed word by digital technology makes that prophecy all too credible for the not-very-distant future.  I follow Chesterton:
“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.”


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