Monday, December 22, 2014

Wise Old Man Comes to Washington (Arkansas)

The sun came out for a little while Sunday afternoon as I made my way down to Pioneer Cemetery, an isolated place to sit and think. I was deep in thought, gazing at the glistening pines, when I heard a voice behind me: “Is that you, Dan?”
It was the wise old man dressed in olive drab from head to toe, carrying a modern hiking pack, fully loaded. “Where did you come from, sir?”
“I spent the night down behind Goodlet Gin. There is a whole little abandoned town down there, Dan. I found a place with a good bed in it and set up camp.”
“So, you have been traveling for a while, then.”
“All my life, Dan. But yes, I have been hiking around since I saw you in August. As soon as the weather cooled, I bought this rig here on my back and started out. I was in Kutawa, Kentucky at that time and I have covered a lot of ground since. I don’t walk all the time. Sometimes I spend a day or two around truck stops and get rides on down the road. I am trying to stay in the South.”
“Well, sir,” I replied, “What do you think of current events?”
“Media-driven, Dan. I am interested in the way opinions are formed nowadays, aren’t you? Logic seems to have gone by the boards along with appreciation for our country’s constitution and laws. Without abiding by these, we are lost.”
“Do you think we are lost?”
“No, Dan, I don’t.  There are still plenty of people who rely on their own ability to read, think, analyze and ponder. You are one of these, Dan; otherwise why are you down here in this lonely place sitting on a tombstone?”
“Well, I try to form my own opinions, but I do listen to those I admire. The pundits I admire are those who have a Christian worldview, universalizing the experience of mankind on the planet.”
“That’s heavy stuff, Dan,” the wise old man said as he shuffled out of his pack and found a place to sit and lean back against a gnarled pine. “One disease of modern man is complexity, in my view. Ponder this proposition, Dan, ‘Man is complex—God is simple’.”
“What does that mean, sir?”
“To me, it means that it is human nature to major on the minors, forgetting the old verities, the old simple truths of the heart: love, honor, pride, willingness to sacrifice for others, the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes…you know the drill.”
“What about dehumanizing?”
“Exactly, Dan, exactly. When someone hates another because of the uniform he or she wears or because of his or her religious views, that is dehumanizing. The value of human life is put aside when people live by prejudice and stereotype, which is another name for cowardice.”
“Where are you headed, sir?”
“May I spend Christmas with y’all?”

“Absolutely, sir, absolutely.”

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