Rule of Law

I’ve been feeling a bit maudlin this past week.  It happens every fall.  Proust called it the remembrance of things past.  I looked up the word maudlin to make sure I was using it correctly, and discovered it could be a person named Tim, a college at Oxford or Cambridge in England, or a town in West Sussex or Cornwell England. Maudlin also means excessively sentimental, although I don’t think of myself as that.

Wistful. nostalgic, how about just plain sad.  I finished Fukuyama’s book (citation below in the Goodreads list) and it left me a bit down.  It’s only volume one, and I toyed with the idea of reading volume two, but put it off for now.  Called a neocon at one point in his career, I find Fukuyama a very unbiased historian, however, his book is alarming.  Perhaps I will tackle one of the hundreds of other unread books I own.  Perhaps I will close this Pandora’s box.

Fukuyama left me thinking about the three critical aspects of any civilized society: 1/ a strong government; 2/ rule of law; 3/ accountability.  I was sad because at present, our political leaders don’t seem to grasp that the people want accountability. No one is above the law, not even the leader.

Fukuyama gave China and Russia as examples of countries with a stong central authority and rule of law, but lacking in accountability.  The Middle East is still very tribal, although now they have access to very deadly weapons and many of them seem bent on suicide.  England is the closest we have as a model of all three aspects, a strong government, rule of law and accountability.  The U.S.?  Well you decide.

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I began the week watching the newly remastered Ken Burns Civil War series from PBS, but stopped watching the series after the Emancipation Act.  What a sad thing slavery was.  Although I was born and raised in the South, my parents were Yankees some of whose ancestors fought for the north (the rest were mostly peasants in Europe).  I think the Yankees from New England were trouble makers, do gooders, etc., who cared so much about the issue of slavery it led to blood bath. Thus when I heard one professor or another talk about northerners as a group or southerners for that matter, I wanted to barf. Read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals to get an idea of how divided northeners were at the time of the Civil War.

Sometimes life has been hard, but one thing I have learned is to never think of people in groups. Individuals are mostly okay.  Groups have characteristics that exist in theory. For example we often hear the expression “kids today (fill in the blank)” and yet where are these kids?  David often comments on how kind some youngster has been, holdong a door open or helping him into his car (he does look frail).

On David’s birthday, we ate lunch at one of our favorite pubs.  A big black vehicle parked without a handicap placard sat in the only available reserved space. We complained to Danny the pub owner who helped us into the pub, and he said he had called the county and they had done nothing, and that “someone is parked out there all the time every day.”

We sat in the window seat and watched the space. After the first miscreant drove off, a new car pulled into the space.  I waved my hand to the driver and pointed up to the handicapped sign on the wall. The driver flashed a ‘thumbs up’ and got into his car and pulled out.  This happened three times. When we left the pub the space was empty.  Danny escorted us to our car and said, “I’m going to Home Depot and buy some blue paint and paint a handicap sign on the street.  People just don’t see the little sign on the wall.  I told David later, this did my heart good.  Every one of those drivers was young and when they realized the space was reserved they pulled out.  “See, youngsters do follow the law.”

From my DIL. Summer photos, 2015

From my DIL. Summer photos, 2015

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18 thoughts on “Rule of Law

  1. I try to keep my reading light these days. There is enough drama in my own family, so I don’t want any added stress. Yes, I’m one of those who prefers to stick her head in the sand. For the most part. But I admire your strong intellect and willingness to continue educating yourself. It’s so nice when a youngster exhibits respect in this day and age. Makes me feel hopeful for the future.

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    • Well, in the long run you may be wiser for “sticking your head in the sand.” I recall when I was an obnoxious young person telling my MIL who was twice my age and had lived through the Depression and WWII, and whose husband had been a Marine in the Pacific who fought in at least three major battles, that she “shouldn’t stick her head in the sand.” Fancy that! 😒

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  2. Can’t comment on the reading and political part of your post because my brain is not in gear enough to think that hard … Even thinking about commenting on it gives me a headache. It’s been that kind of week….. But agree a hundred percent about not lumping people … And our experiences with young people are mostly positive as well. Sometimes I think it’s all in what ones expectations are … They often have a way of coming true.

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  3. I’m trying to stay away from downer books or movies. I’m trying hard to be happy. Just watching the news and hearing commentaries is enough to dampen my day. Sigh…
    Happy Birthday to David. Danny sounds like a wonderful fellow.
    I would like to think those young people would have parked elsewhere even if you weren’t there to remind them. I don’t like to generalize for all young people though since I know many responsible ones.

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  4. I love the word maudlin and use it quite often. I also find myself in that same reflective state fairly often. It’s usually when I awaken and am lounging in bed for a few moments. If I get into that maudlin state I get up quickly and get busy to “break the spell.”

    The state of this government is enough to make anyone sad, though. There’s not enough expletives to use for my take on the U.S. government. If we don’t get someone in there who respects the constitution, is not a socialist, and has a spine, this country will pay a huge price in a not so long period of time.

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    • I can see that Putin is not your idea of a good leader. I am very pessimistic, but try to be optimistic. George Bush looks better and better every day, and I regret discovering this so late.

      I hope Fukuyama is wrong, but fear he is right. All we as individuals can do is live in the present moment, staying busy with our diversions.

      The buildup of nukes in the countries with insane leaders and a lack of moral compass is frightening. I try to reflect on my ancestors and the times they experienced. Everything from Indian raiders to British troops to Rebel warriors, to say nothing of the twentieth century and all its flaws. I used to think progress was real, but now I think it’s a chimera. Sorry I am not very cheerful this AM.

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  5. Happy Birthday to David! I hope your spirits have lifted by now. I have been very heartened by young people lately. There is definitely a trend in the right direction. Only yesterday I met two of the nicest young people when out and about. Their kindness was very heartwarming.

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  6. You did a real service pointing the Handicap sign out to the drivers and it was nice to see that (at least the ones you contacted) they really didn’t know rather than just not caring.
    BTW: please congratulate David on his 35 years. He has 9 on me and I know how hard it can be at times.

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  7. Maybe, you should take a break and read a collection of personal essays that hit your funny bone. Tom Sightings mentioned one author in his blog. My favorite used to be David Sedaris, whom I saw in person in Hawaii. He read from one of his collections, and managed to make the audience laugh. I don’t read books anymore. I read articles instead.

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  8. It’s funny you should mention Rule of Law because I had to stop reading Matt Taibbi’s excellent book, The Great Divide. It is about how the executives at the Wall Street banks were not prosecuted while poor people get jailed for minor offenses. I may go back and finish it later but it was very upsetting to me.

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