I experienced a vivid long review of safe driving practice last week when making a left turn behind another car controlled by a driver intent on safely, safely trickling through the turn with foot on brake the entire time. It felt as if half the morning was spent making the first half of the arc. I wasn’t sure if I’d end up spending the lunch hour in the car or a new glacial epoch would overtake us. Either seemed possible. Finally, while there was yet daylight, the turn was completed and the driver puttered off at a reckless twenty miles per hour. No lives were lost by observing so much caution, but a person such as I can’t help wonder when too-safe becomes a problem.

Some sort of human safety reflex seems to kick in when drivers reach the North Shore’s tunnels. I’m prepared for it now and expect at least half the cars ahead to slow five to ten miles an hour. Why? Is it to have extra time to stop in case the roof collapses ahead of you? Why not speed up and shoot out the tunnel at ninety knowing if collapse happens you’re safely outside? The reason is probably simple as drivers feeling the need to slow in close quarters and floor it in wide open spaces. But it is no less flow breaking to go 55 – 45 – 55 at each tunnel.

Roadside deer kills are educational for seeing crows and eagles mix relatively easily over a free meal. Free food at another’s expense crosses the ordinary size and color borders. On occasion a fox can be seen on the sidelines waiting an opportunity. Crow and eagle may mix, but not with foxes. Is this avian racism?

When canoe guiding I thought nothing of making lemonade with raw lake water with many little dots swimming about. The lemonade mix would wipe them right out. I was unconcerned because every time swimming I ingested some of whatever was in the water with no ill effect. On the other side I knew people from purer backgrounds that were sick for a week if a foreign microbe got within ten inches.

Last summer I saw three kids with towels around their necks pedaling bikes up a dirt road toward a bridge. A boy, barefoot, was in the lead followed by a boy/girl pair laughing as the pedaled. It was a scene to make pause. Would you or I rather be one of those three or be among hundreds of the young safely behind chain link in a chlorinated pool entered navigating disinfecting foot baths?

Thinking of politics I asked myself to compare the D and R sides of today with what I knew starting fifty years ago as a Kennedy Democrat.
The parties have changed. The R side seems confused and uncertain as if unable to understand situations that in the past were cut and dried. If Trump reminds me of any former Republican it’s Goldwater, not in my estimation at the time a likeable man at all. These days Goldwater hawkish nationalism would be called racist; the current term of judgmental denigration that replaces Nazi, Rebel, or Tory/Royalist.
On the D side I can’t imagine anyone these days making the Kennedy statement ‘ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’  None would, at least not as a campaign plus. The office seeking D of today seems more like a European Social Democrat with a strong commitment to homogenized equality and globalism.
Both R and D, I’m sorry to say, deal in a politic like processed food for mass consumption. We welcome whole foods in diet but not in thinking. So there you have two views on constipation.

Not long ago someone angrily informed me I was judgmental. I smiled wondering what they thought of themselves making a judgmental statement. Also recent, another made a comment so crude and tasteless it brought thankfulness that I’d never before heard such a nasty set of words and joy knowing I was mighty unlikely ever to use them in any context of civil discourse. As a staunch believer in Freedom of Expression I’d not deny others the right to say demeaning or awful things. But I am aware of the dangers of faux freedom being used to bully and control others. Free speech becomes dangerous when used to silence what we don’t like. Citizenship should welcome debate which one never finds in booing, chanting, or disruption.

The idea occurs to me that people who complain of not being listened to should try to listen more. In that way they can ensure they are not more than half the problem. This is also a simple remedy each of us can do without reliance on others or need of regulation other than of the self.

Loudness is not a form of argument. Accusation is not argument, nor is shouting. Argument is made of fact and analysis. We can and should disagree on the accuracy or it’s want in fact and the weight or value of our analysis. Simply shutting up or silencing the other side is likely to be a loss of understanding and or opportunity. The holders of absolute truth in dogma don’t fit well in a system democratic politics because they act pompously religious as the keepers and voices of divine revelation.

With tourism up the shore tapered off with the fallen leaves the atmosphere is less tense with service demands and more tense with uncertainty. It is unappealing to say, but tourism is the annual pig swallowed head first by an anaconda who not has only a bit of curly tail left to swallow. I sympathize with business owners trying to cope and with employees hard worked. Making hearth and home under the stresses of seasonal occupation isn’t easy for either side. But maybe it is so that an imperfect system brings out our better efforts.