Before the trim young woman with the clipboard reached to top step of the porch where I was sitting yesterday afternoon, I loosed the kind of quirkiness that people of my age are allowed: "It's too damned hot to talk politics, so please don't do that. But you're welcome to a cold glass of water if you'd like one."
The temperature was around 100F and the humidity was viscous.
The girl heeded what I said and stepped into the air conditioned living room while I fetched the water. We chatted idly about where she lived and how she got sent out to gather signatures no matter what the weather. All in all, it was nice to be on a human frequency as she sipped the icy water.
After she left, my younger son, who was sitting at the computer in a corner, looked at me and said, "Who the hell was that?" And I could reply truthfully, "I don't know, but I think she was hot." It seemed to strike him strange that I might give someone I didn't know a glass of water -- the kind of thing anyone might want.
Treating people as people first and only later as the agendas they are hawking strikes me as a good effort. Not to make some sort of smarmy rule out of it (there are those who have a be-their-friend agenda ... a kind of icky perversion), but as a matter of approach, when it's hot, everyone sweats irrespective of their personal or political agendas. Whether anyone else is lying or not doesn't matter so much ... it just feels better if I don't lie.
After the trim young women moved on, I found the "Daily Brief" from the Huffington Post in my email inbox. As usual, I skimmed the four or five topics and found one, by Arianna Huffington, whose efforts impressed me. Basically it said, for the good of the nation, we've got to stop soft-soaping the problems at hand. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then, despite all the efforts to blur the edges, it is a duck. It is fraud. It is waste. It is skulduggery. It is collusion at some pretty high levels. How can we expect to solve problems when everyone's running around calling them "issues?" People know it's bullshit and yet those issuing the bullshit know that Joseph Goebbels was right ... if you tell a lie often enough, people start to believe it.
But all of this eats into the fabric of the country -- the trust that is a cornerstone to society. It's too economically hot in this country at the moment -- housing starts down, foreclosures grinding forward, jobs lost, banks hoarding money while advertising their willingness to assist families in very difficult times -- to be blowing feel-good, we're on the mend farts. People are thirsty and the shot-cuff agendas are dry on many tongues.
Huffington had done her homework, broken a research sweat. It wasn't all sincere and heart-felt opinion masquerading as something worth listening to. I have no idea how precisely true what she had to say was, but it was clearly an effort worth listening to.
A sip of cold water on a hot day.