I have a die-hard conservative friend on Social Security who is majorly depressed to see the American government drift toward Europe’s level of social welfare. Like Romney, he is concerned that the looters have taken control of our democracy and will continue on their merry way until they run out of other people’s money to spend. America’s landing, he fears, will be hard. On bad days he says he hopes he isn’t around to see the ugly ending, but on his good days he says he is looking forward to see the looters get their just deserts. Let’s call him a grumpy, old man.
A couple of days ago, I had a long conversation with another old friend who is approaching Social Security. He started by complaining about the management of large corporations, with their focus on selfish objectives instead of the general good. From that complaint, he pivoted toward young people and their disdain for the Protestant work ethic and old-fashioned integrity. On each of the subjects, I cut off the discussion by noting that since my retirement six years ago, I have almost no exposure to the management practices of large corporations or the work ethic or integrity of young people, and therefore am poorly qualified to have an opinion. And even more relevant to our conversation, I didn’t care about the answer. What difference does it make whether the values that I have are becoming more or less prevalent?
As I thought about my position of apathy, I wondered if I had become the grumpy old man described in the first paragraph above or perhaps my philosophy has become more like the Serenity Prayer:
- God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
While pondering that question, I recalled that when I ran for Congress and the SA City Council since retiring, I ran against a couple of whippersnappers (in their early 30s) whom I criticized severely for running for office at such a young age. But then it occurred to me that I ran for my hometown school board when I was still in college and for the Minot City Counsel when I was in my early 30s, and it never occurred to me then that I was too young to be running for those offices.
Grumpy, old man, indeed.