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The amazing thing about contemporary American culture is its predisposition to organize itself into neat little categories. This "pigeonhole syndrome," referred to by some as PHS, (not to be confused with PMS), is responsible for much of the stress...
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"When in polite society," my grandfather opined, "never talk about religion or politics." Then he would dismiss himself from said "polite society" and talk about nothing but religion and politics.

Mostly, he talked about politics and believe me, he had a lot to say on the subject. Much cannot be repeated in polite society or any other society.

All I know about politics I learned from my grandfather and yet, to this day I don't know if he was a Republican or a Democrat. He prided himself in being an independent thinker.

He was so much an independent thinker that often he would take the opposite side of an argument.

For more than 20 years, he served in the Department of Transportation regardless of the political party in office at the time. In fact, he was the only person who never got fired when a new administration came to power. Every new administration thought he was on their side.

If a Republican was in office, he talked Republican and when a Democrat was in office, he talked Democrat. "It doesn't matter what you say," he once told me, "once inside that voting booth you are always boss." Then with a devious smile he would repeat, "always."

Few things in life he respected more than that voting booth. He deemed it a sacred obligation to vote and never missed a chance to exercise his American citizenship duty.

It was simply impossible to know how he voted. The secrecy of his vote was the most precious thing he knew and could never understand why people boasted of who they were voting for.

I suspect, and I have no reason to really know this, he probably voted people "out of office" rather than in. Just a hunch I have, but will never know for sure.

During the recent political campaign I heard the phrase, "the devil is in the details." The first time I heard that phrase it came from my grandfather. But he always said it a little differently. "The devil," he stated, "is in de tales." Then he would slap his knee and roar with laughter.

At the time, I laughed with him but I really did not know the full import of his little joke. Thirty years later, I'm beginning to understand what my grandfather was talking about and I'm inclined to believe he was right on the money.

It is not the "details" that gives so much trouble, it is the insistence of "de tales," where the devil lies. It is probably as difficult for a politician to tell the straight truth as it is for a porcupine to go into business blowing up balloons for birthday parties.

My grandfather taught me that for a politician the truth equals "fact" plus "spin." The spin, he alleged, was much more important than the fact. According to my grandfather, any politician worth his salt can take any fact and spin it to make him look like the winner.

It is not so much that politicians lie, they just doctor up the facts to the point that the truth would not recognize it. A veteran politician can take a simple sentence like, "The black cat crossed the road," and spin it for personal advantage.

"I have a plan for that black cat, so he will not have to cross the road. I voted for building a new road before I voted against it. In my plan, no cat in America will be left behind.

"My plan will give every cat and their families free veterinary care for the rest of their life. I will look every cat in the eye and promise him or her that I will never raise his or her taxes.

"To pay for my plans I will only tax dogs. Everyone knows dogs in America get all the breaks and have much more than cats. I understand every cat's pain and I have a plan.

"Under my opponent's plan, every cat in America has gone from nine lives down to three. In my plan I will assure every cat in America at least 12 lives."

I'm sorry my grandfather is no longer with us. He certainly would enjoy all the hullabaloo associated with this present election.

In reflecting on my grandfather, I was reminded of some verses from the Bible, which may or may not apply in our present condition. I was amazed at how harsh the Bible is on people who lie and perpetuate a lie.

"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." (Revelation 22:14-15 KJV).

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:7-8 KJV.)

Perhaps someone should enact a law forbidding people to lie and bear false witness against a neighbor. Wait a minute. If I'm not mistaken, there is one.

In the Ten Commandments, the ninth commandment says, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." (Exodus 20:16 KJV.)

This just may be the reason some people are against the Ten Commandments. To practice politics apart from religion is chaos - as our present condition proves.

About the Author

Rev. James L. Snyder is an award winning author and columnist living in Ocala, FL with his wife, Martha.


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