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The Scenic Route

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Eye of the Needle

It seems we aren't ready for new direction in these United States. What 51 percent of us seem to be telling another 48 percent is that gas prices aren't high enough. Not enough folks have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.Corporate America doesn't have enough permission to do what they please. We haven't sacrificed enough rights to the specter of terrorism. We are not ready to give up living an excessive lifestyle for the good of our children.

To the 48 percent who voted for a different track than the one we have been on, thanks. To the one percent who voted for Ralph ... and to that other 51 percent ... what were you thinking?

I have to admit, there is a sense of safety in voting the status quo. At least, the demons envisioned for us as lying in wait along the path to the future are familiar. We don't have to imagine new ones. And, we don't have to waste precious energy, time, thought and courage changing direction. We can continue in the direction in which we are already rushing, hand basket  and all.

No sweat. No problem. No doubt.

Wednesday morning last, as I drove to town, and there was still hope for Mr. Kerry, I prayed we would get a new president. I also prayed blessings on our country, the rest of the planet and all the people who live upon it. I know any number of people were praying about the same things; and if God answers prayers in the best manner possible, there must be some wisdom hidden in the outcome of the elections of 2004.

What it is, only time will tell, but if you believe in any Great Spirit, you may also believe that Wisdom takes the long view. God knows what other lesson might be here; but a good thought is that it will be better learned by the clear knowledge that our present and uncomfortable circumstance is our own doing. An analogous situation might be letting a cookie-stealing kid take as many as she wants or providing a cigar to the boy who wants to start smoking; knowing that becoming ill by one's own actions can lead to the lessons of temperance and moderation.

We only need 51 percent of the people to realize that ... a measly 3 percent more. If we continue in our present direction, I would think that in four more years we will be uncomfortable enough to come to that realization.

As I approached town last Wednesday, I encountered two images that sum up America this month. The first was a 35-foot motor home pulling a brand-new, full-sized, four-door, four-wheel-drive pickup, a quarter-million dollar monument to consumerism which must burn a dollar per mile in fuel. On the tailgate of the pickup was a school of chrome fish leaping after another marked with Jesus' cross and named "Truth," which was devouring a "Darwin" fish. Cute, but also frightening in its logic and by its placement.

As I recall, Jesus was the guy who, after the young noble declined to give up his wealth and follow him, noted that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven.To the people in the motor home, I say, "Make up your minds."

In the past four years, the drive during which I pray, the one from which this column takes its name, has gotten more crowded and more expensive, but no less beautiful. My temptation this week has been to bury my sensibilities under the fallen yellow leaves of the cottonwoods along the lake, or lose them in the lavender and turquoise sunset of last night. But then, I remember the young couple in the well-preserved old pickup that passed me a moment after the motor home and reminded me that there is hope. In their back window was a small, red, white and blue sticker that read, "Think. It's patriotic."

If the kids in the pickup are going to have a future, we need to change direction as a nation, and the people in the motor home have to give up a lot. God knows if they will ever be uncomfortable enough to make that change. There are others who may have a better chance of getting into heaven.

But Jesus' puzzling and hopeful addendum to his statement about the eye of the needle comes to mind: With God, all things are possible.

We of the 48 percent mustn't give up. If just one-tenth of us can, in the next four years, by example, advice or attraction, each convince one member of the 51 percent to reconsider their politics, we can move the country, and our world, to a different tack.

Sandy Compton's book, Jason's Passage, can be purchased online or by sending $10 to Jason's Passage, c/o Blue Creek Press, Box 110, Heron, MT 59844.

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Author info

Sandy Compton Sandy Compton Sandy Compton is one of the original contributors to The River Journal, and owner and publisher at Blue Creek Press (www.bluecreekpress.com). His latest book is Side Trips From Cowboy: Addiction, Recovery and the Western American Myth

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