curmudgeon: An ill tempered (and frequently old) person full of stubborn ideas or opinions - wiktionary
A not uncommon response when asking a Minnesotan how things are going is, "Oh, could be worse." Effusive, we're not.
The "could-be-worse" philosophy is one I personally need to remember more often.
The LWW and I are spending a few days unwinding by visiting the beautiful Texas Hill Country north of San Antonio. It's been a busy summer and a few days of getting up late, reading and touring are welcome. Yesterday, July 4th, we took the whole day visiting President Lyndon Johnson's ranch and hometown of Johnson City.
While most of us remember Johnson as the "Vietnam War" president with chants of "LBJ, LBJ, how many babies did you kill today," I was struck by his efforts to create his 'the Great Society." It was under Johnson that effective civil rights legislation was passed. Medicare and Medicaid was enacted during his term. Money poured into schools with the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Thanks to Lady Bird, the environmental movement got started, and he added substantially to the National Parks domain. LBJ signed into law funding for the start of public broadcast. Any NPR listeners out there?
Johnson was motivated by the experiences of his own childhood. He grew up poor, worked his way through college, and remained in close contact with his Hill Country neighbors and empathized with the disadvantaged. He was described as the last great "rural liberal."
Anyway, something about LBJ and the 4th of July made me question my curmudgeonly stance on so many issues:
- I complain about aching knees when getting up in the morning when thousands of our veterans have no knees to ache.
- I grouse about my steak being over-cooked when I eat more in a week that others do in a month.
- I fuss about the seat pitch on airplanes when I can fly across the country in hours, safely.
- I moan about my grandsons living too far from home when they are healthy, smart and loving.
- I steam about a lack of funding for technology in schools when education in this country for both boys and girls is universal.
- I grumble about taxes, gas prices, and my 401K's performance when I am blessed with a job I love that allows me comforts unknown to 99% of the rest of the world.
- I despise the politics in this country yet I recognize that I live in a society in which its citizens enjoy more freedom and safety than during any place or time in history.
When it comes right down to it, what do I really have to complain about? Perhaps we need two Thanksgiving Days in the US. Just as a reminder that many, many, many of us do indeed lead charmed lives.
Could be worse.