This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 21, 2010 - be kind

I remember reading a great comic book when I was a kid.

The time was the not-too-distant future. People had anti-gravity swimming pools in their back yards. They got to wear clothes sort of like superhero costumes.

Most folks of that age were very materialistic. But while the society was both global and mostly prosperous, not every one enjoyed prosperity.

There was one gentle young man who visited the old, and spent most of his time helping others on the fringe. He was universally mocked. It didn't bother him much.

One day, a flying saucer arrived, and hung over the global capital. They had a simple demand. They wanted that guy. They wouldn't show themselves to anyone in the world government. They weren't interested in setting up diplomatic relations, or trade. They just kept saying they had come for that guy.

So the government finally asked the guy if he'd go. Seeing how frightened everyone was, he accepted.

And found, when they floated him up to the flying saucer and it headed off to Galactic Central, that the folks from outer space had chosen him to be the Emperor of the Universe. "But I have no interest in power!" he said.

"That's why we picked you," they said. "That's how we always pick our Emperors. It works very well."

It seems like a pretty good system to me, too. I've just come back from a couple of emergency backup speaker gigs, traveling around libraries in the West. Politics is in the air.

I've been thinking about the pursuit of power, and find that few people can articulate just why they want it. Even when they do tell you, you get the sense that they have something else in mind.

I'm not even sure I believe in power. Speaking as the leader of an organization, a husband, a father, a friend, and even a citizen, I think the quest for control is mostly a waste of time. You have influence, sure. You can lean things a little one way or the other - a little better (you hope), or a little worse (sometimes despite your best efforts). If you pay attention, it makes you humble.

One of the things I talked about in my travels was renewal. Everybody gets burned out sometimes, and right now, the cause is often politics or budget troubles (and often, they're the same).

At such times, it's useful to hearken back to a few simple things:

* breathe. Just noticing the air moving in and out of your body can be wonderfully calming.

* laugh. People are funny. And the funnier they are, the more familiar they become. You think, "that could (or did) happen to me." By and by, humor starts to look a lot like compassion.

* look around. Our world is beautiful. Over the past couple of weeks, autumn has arrived. Its signs differ from one part of the West to other. Sometimes subtle, the tones of the landscape work magic on the soul. Change is coming, inevitably.

Several themes emerged from my many conversations. People sense that we've swung a pendulum about as far as it can go in the direction of angry entitlement. It could be that it's time to try to locate a little common ground, a little kindness.

Because let's remember: it just might be the only way to get in the running for Emperor of the Universe.

LaRue's Views are his own.

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