News and Tribune


May 12, 2014

HAYDEN: Living the simple life is complex

— Several of my previous articles addressed life as we know it. Thought I knew a few things about it, but I don’t. Obviously, I recognize human shortcomings when I see them. They’re all over the neighborhood. How can you walk out your door without bumping into a stupid neighbor? Stupidity doesn’t bother me as it once did, because we are used to it by being governed by it. Not saying that I’m not as stupid as the next guy, but Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, the minority and majority leaders of the Senate epitomize how man can devolve into an animal form. Their stupidity is one thing, but their animosity and hatred is another. How do those two elected officials and their ilk sleep at night?

And why do we keep electing them? You have to have money to buy votes and minimum wage is not enough. Term limits is the only answer, but think the entrenched lawmakers would ever pass such law? We are stupid for allowing this to continue, or we don’t care or we’re simply tired of fighting it. Wake up before big money drowns you. To hear the money interests tell it, if the minimum wage is raised, million’s more Americans will lose their jobs and corporate America will go broke. The division grows as inequality gap gets wider by the day. Forget working together, but it will change either by fairness and justice or by a revolution.

As human beings and civilizations evolved, presumably learning from past mistakes, wouldn’t you think that more and more people would do the right thing? After a brief survey of the world, I found that about 87 percent of all people get right and wrong mixed up. It must be jealousies, emotions and human flaws. It couldn’t be greed, envy or lack of schooling. However, it could be inferior American schools if you scored below average on a human-being test. Not knowing who our vice-president is, or guessing that North Korea is north of South Dakota does not necessarily make you a bad person.

 Intelligence is not required to discern right from wrong or good from evil. There are many “unlearned” people, who know enough to try doing the right thing.  Many others in high places know and talk the “right” game, but do the opposite. Nerdy people live in a world of their own. They mean well, but are leaving so many old, humble folks way behind. If apps would improve my life, I’d go to a tech school.

Has there ever been a time more complicated in living one’s life? And it’s happened so fast. From growing up without electricity to, I’m nowhere unless logged on, is more than I can sort out. There’s so many of us common folks trying to live a simpler life in this jittery age. Learn how to operate the latest gadget and tomorrow it’s out of date. Having a relaxed and intelligent conversation is now conducted through a “thing” in your hand.

We live in a “fix-it” and/or a “throwaway” society. I have a long list of things that need fixing. It’s simpler to dump them and shop for new ones online. Do you know where I could get my heart rate and nervous system fixed? Pills you say is the quickest way.    

If I had the money, I’d buy simplicity, happiness and the good life. Tolstoy said that real goodness is always simple and wondered why so few people led truly simple lives. He was a rich man and in his later years, he dressed like his peasants, worked with them on his land and established schools for them. His family and friends thought he’d gone crazy. Skovoroda explained that God made necessary things simple and complicated things unnecessary.

 In the latter 1700s Montaigne studied human nature. He wrote: “The least contemptible sort of man seems to be one, who because of his simplicity, stands on the lowest rung; with him, I think equitable relations are most possible. I find the behavior and conversation of peasants more accordant with true philosophy than those of philosophers. The common people are wiser because they are no wiser that they need to be.”

How teach humility to the “wise” guys? Tolstoy said, “If you want an example to follow, look among the simple, humble folk.” Life will get more complex until it gets simpler.

— Contact Terry Cummins at



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