“A man who views the world at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” — Muhammad Ali
In 1965, the current Republican nominee for president Mitt Romney participated in a prank that resulted in another student’s head being shaved. The student might also have been gay and was possibly taunted by Romney and a couple of others.
I could care less. Anyone who would allow that incident to affect how they vote puzzles me. That incident happened 47 years ago. Romney was a teenager.
I realize that this is the kind of thing that campaigns like to do — take a meaningless issue and get it in the news. Everyone who didn’t do something stupid as a teenager raise your hand. Now will everyone who remembers how open-minded America was regarding gay issues in 1965 please raise your hand.
I know — all of you were open-mined about homosexuality in 1965. Now anyone who was alive in 1965 and gay, count the hands raised now and compare them to those you remember being so inclusive and understanding in the mid-’60s on gay issues. I’ll bet nobody reading this used a term as soft as gay in 1965. Let’s don’t even talk about racial attitudes in the 1960s in this country.
There is probably not one chance in a million that I will vote for Romney. I can also state that anything he did in 1965 when he was in his teens will not have any influence. The fact that this would even be considered as a campaign issue shows this will surely be the silly season between now and November.
I don’t know why we like to pretend that our potential political leaders are perfect people who have never made any errors in judgment in their lives. Those of you who have never done anything wrong in your lives, well, I am in awe of you. I also tend to think you are pretty much in self denial.
The reason we gain wisdom and learn to exercise good judgment is by learning from our mistakes. I will unabashedly admit that there are many events from my younger days that would not look good for me on videotape.
Give me an ex-drinking, ex-smoking, drug experimenting, divorced person who failed at several different careers before rising to the top of their profession anytime as a leader. That person is much more a composite of true Americans than the fake façade of the “perfect” politician.
It’s the length of time between the bad decisions and the maturing adult that is of importance to me rather than the nature of the past acts themselves. I also want a leader that has experienced life in its many facets. It has been my experience that well-rounded and battle-tested people make the very best leaders.
The tabloid news and 24-hour talk shows like to feed the salacious and the extraordinary moments of the lives of people who enter the public arena. I would rather accept another’s imperfections than to fool myself into thinking they were somehow morally superior to my own human experience. I know I am a better person today than I was in 1965. I sincerely hope that 10 years from now I will be an even better person.
Isn’t that the very nature of life? Do we really want someone in charge of our country who has not tasted a bit of life in their younger years? And, isn’t that what we all do in our younger years?
I see no reason for Romney to have to apologize. However, I blame us as a culture for the fact that he chose to lie and say he didn’t remember holding a kid down and participating in the act of shaving their head.
Denial works when we like someone. Hey, I bet if he ever tried marijuana, he probably didn’t even inhale. Politicians now are very good at the partial-but-not-quite-full admission to a past error in judgment. I guess it makes us all feel a bit better about our own transgressions from the past.
A BIG THANK YOU
On Wednesday evening, we attended the Charlestown High School 2012 Business/Vocational Awards Program. The food was great. The program was adequate in length to honor student achievements, yet short enough to be enjoyable.
Kim and I would like to personally thank the teachers and staff members who volunteered to put in a 12-hour-plus day for our son and his fellow computer tech students. By name I would like to acknowledge teachers Vernon Jackson, Mike Webb, David Null and Jeanne Null. I especially enjoyed seeing retired teacher Alice Matthews there in support of her former students.
It is my hope that each of you and anyone else involved that I did not mention by name know that your efforts are important. I feel confident that some of the kids who were recognized will achieve success in life at least in some part due to your efforts and dedication. Being a professional and effective educator will never be an eight-hour-per-day job.
Hopefully one day when you least expect it, one of them will come up to you when you have long forgotten Wednesday evening’s efforts and thank you for your part in allowing them to be successful in life.
— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who lives in Otisco and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org