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Humor June 2016

The Hippocratic Oaf

Middle School Politics: You Hang Up First!

By Daniel Crantz

We remember 6th or 7th grade and watching some kid who has stood up and continued to resist authority. We probably did not agree with some or many things that were said, but looked at the defiance with varying levels of emotion, mesmerized by the dull admiration reserved for spectacular fools or daredevils.

Several years ago my daughter attended a middle school where there was a contentious battle for student body president. It was not Red vs. Blue but as expected Pink vs. Blue, that is Girls vs. Boys.

Finally the field was reduced to two candidates; an outgoing girl and a wealthy young man. The girl had a history in politics; she was hall monitor in 6th grade and was going steady with a former middle school president. The boy candidate tried to spread his good will whether you wanted it not, a bit of a bully, but maybe just spoiled, it was difficult to tell.

So the battle lines were drawn, boys on one side, girls on the other. They heckled each other, called each other names and even flirted with each other when no one else was around. But my advice, DO NOT loan either of these candidates lunch money – you’ll never see it again.

Like all politicians they arrived to work by bus, have others pick out their clothes and get into a variety of trouble by misusing their first smart phone.

A week into the campaign, my daughter came to me with a set of completely contradictory emotions. She was amused, disgruntled, excited, bored and angry. She asked if I could clear this up. I told of course, it’s only middle school.

I told her there are three legs to honesty; it is a tripod and with one missing or compromised leg it wobbles, then falls becoming essentially dishonest in the long run. My daughter was already looking bored, but I continued as I thought this an important lesson.

The three legs are as follows, I continued:

1) Be honest (tell the truth).

2) No omissions (the whole truth and nothing but the truth).

3) Be forthright (volunteer and clarify the truth, don’t wait for it to be uncovered by interrogation).

So it seemed both candidates were using or misusing one or more of the legs. It seems the girl got into gossip trouble with her smart phone but would not admit to any wrongdoing even after 8 hours in detention. And the boy said outrageous things with disregard. This verbal lack of concern seemed to make him appear more honest by misusing the virtue of being forthright. Most of the kids were tired of omission from all the candidates, as they tiptoed around issues and questions by heckling each other. Plus teachers constantly enforced ‘politeness rules,’ so being loud and forthright seemed even more truthful to some. What a mess.

So both of these kids were defying authority and were vigorously defended by their supporters.

But for those in the adult audience, we remember 6th or 7th grade and watching some kid who has stood up and continued to resist authority. We probably did not agree with some or many things that were said, but looked at the defiance with varying levels of emotion, mesmerized by the dull admiration reserved for spectacular fools or daredevils. You see, even if you agree with what is said, or not said, it is still hard not to agree that only a fool would say it or omit it.     

So only kids would stoop this low, omit so much and so often that forthright would appear as honest, create a place where trapdoors become platforms.

My daughter, exasperated, finally declared, “I don’t trust either one of them!”

“Welcome to politics!” I declared as the proud parent.

So who won the middle school election you may ask?

Well, I really don’t remember, but I do recall the gossip reached an even higher pitch when it was discovered the new student body president could nominate a replacement for a boy that dropped out of the debate club. What followed were several late night phone calls between the candidates AND they were flirting with other!

The late night telephone conversations between these young politicians went something like this.

“If you hang up first you can appoint the new debate captain,” he says.

She giggles, “No you hang up first.”

He pouts, “No, you hang up first and I’ll meet you behind the gym tomorrow.”

She laughs, “No you hang up.”

“No, you hang up,” he says.

“Did you hear that click?” she asks. “I think my Mom is on the other line.”

“Okay,” he says, “we’ll hang up together.”

Thank goodness our politicians are more mature. My well-considered political opinion is that if we tell Jimmy what Sue said about Gloria in algebra we can resolve this whole thing after shop class.


Laughter is the Best Medicine, unless you’re asthmatic!

 

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