In past weeks I’ve been being “political,” in equal ways a creative challenge and a depressing reality. Mostly the experience is good, or at least eye-opening in terms of “Well, never expected THAT.” My and our fellow beings are full of surprises, some being nobly high-minded and generous, with others as venal and vindictive as an angry toddler. (My own moods in the second category have been a source of frequent apology and much regret, not that the bastard didn’t deserve it at the time.)
The more depressing side of politicking is, in my perhaps too optimistic view, the number of people unwilling to speak up and out. A great many of the public are quite adamantly sane about not wanting the trouble and confusion of political life mucking up their daily existence. Putting food on the table, gas in the car, the electric paid, and insurance kept up to date are neither (at least directly) conservative nor liberal issues. Day-to-day plugging forward is not a matter of voting or party affiliation. Our lives are reality-based in terms of finding good solutions for meeting our basic needs. That sounds OK, perhaps even good, doesn’t it? It is or would be, were it not for the amazing power of bad habits and worship of toys to convert a fuel payment into “need” for an accessory to a diversion. If there were no Darwin to have made suggestions of our origins, a look at the bower bird or pack rat would give a little hint that human behavior is not always very elevated at all. We’re noble as any quadruped modified with a pair of hands and arms instead of matching hooves, wings, or fins.
I can tell you (as I’d say to those I visited with if talk went that direction) these musings are what bubble up from the primal ooze of my consciousness as I drive from one to the other, or that rise up after I’ve flopped in the recliner with thoughts of “What in hell am I doing” taking the carbonation out and leaving me flat as a days-old, tepid soda. These are not complaints. I find them to be more like reckonings that put me in my place. I can’t shake my fist at presumed injustice from these things any more than I’d be justified being angry that the sun did not, for the sake of variety and balance, rise from the west once in a while to surprise us. Think of the fun there’d be in not knowing which way the sun would come up. For a person like me who has a life full of doing things backward, this would be a real god-send whether or not there was any god doing the sending.
Aspiring—which is a far cry from my usual stumbling around—for office (a possibility NEVER contemplated until senility grabbed hold of my reasoning faculties), I thought I should have some sort of grand vision such as “two chickens in every pot,” a “Great Society,” or “Change” (which either means something different or what you get back from a dollar bill after spending ninety-six cents). Since this is America, land of the free and bold, what better vision base than that of an eagle? Good, huh? Well, frankly, I wasn’t up for it. I don’t like to fly much at all. That’s one stopper right there. Another was confronting the reality that I lack what it takes to be an eagle type of person. A true eagle needs to be one who enjoys soaring on high and then rocketing down to pounce on a victim to rip its guts out and eat it. If that sounds like me, I’ve lived an entire life the wrong way. Eddie the Eagle has no competition from Harry.
It struck me that I, along with a good many other voters, operate more as a vulture, while large numbers of other voters function like voles. (I was going to title this piece Voters as Vultures and Voles, but the overemphasis on the letter V made me fear unwanted association with vampirism and ventriloquism, each rather creepy even if Edgar Bergen and Charlie were funny.) The political difference between Vole and Vulture is their degree of vision. The Vole thrives on precise close vision. (Don’t confuse this with single-issue voters, though you can if you want to because that’s the political thing for me to say.) The Vole knows exactly which grass roots are the tastiest and what stems to use for a tidy little nest to keep it warm and dry. As studiers of the stars, Voles I believe are complete failures. I feel great security saying no Vole will ever be an astronomer.
The Vulture Voter has a greatly expanded vision from that of the Vole that knows ten square feet of earth at ground-zero level. The Vulture scans miles of terrain and has somehow combined sufficient eyesight with marvelous scent tracking to pick out something not-moving down below as food for the taking. Considering that most things on earth do not move much if at all, picking out from 4,000 feet a deceased chipmunk from a brown rock is a survival skill I lack. I fear I’d have to eat granite and like it, though as a Vulture I might pick up on the utility of Crows to lead me to a morsel or two, which seems to work for Eagles as well, given the way I’ve seen them squabble among the crows over the remains of a deer that met decisively with one of the Ford or Chevrolet clan.
When it comes to it Voters, I think we are all either Vulture or Vole, and likely as not some of each as we try to pick our way forward through an undergrowth of tight-packed stems or a wide overview of things unmoving. We want to survive and avoid pain doing it. If I were a creator, I’d have made us Vulture-Voles: the best of both.