Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Back Porch

In order that all men be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it.

Samuel Johnson
Hello Linda
"The best class room is a park bench, with you on one end and your teacher on the other." Bate

One day I interviewed a man who was engaged in a fruitless campaign to be elected President of the United States. It was pointless because he was a Republican running against the entrenched and very popular incumbent Republican President. I was only a local broadcaster but I was asked to interview this man for the Associated Press. I had made up what I thought was a formidable list of questions to ask him, but I never got to ask him any of them, except for the first one, "Why do you want to be President?"

It was a beautiful, warm day in Autumn, we sat on the back porch of a country house in northern New England, staring out at the mountains and the trees, and he spoke non stop for 2 hours. He covered every topic I thought to ask him about and more, while I recorded him on my little Sony cassette recorder.

I listened in amazement to a clearly passionate man talk about the country, his ideas and beliefs and what he would do if elected. I learned more about him, how his mind worked, how he came to his conclusions and what America really meant to him. Even though he was younger than I and I wasn't convinced of his politics, I felt as if I was in the presence of a fascinating professor.

The Associated Press wanted a one paragraph report. I couldn't possibly condense what he had to say into a single paragraph. So I didn't try. I didn't even listen to the tape. I wrote subjectively about my experience, my impressions of him and of the interview. The AP published it.

Observation, attention, watching, listening are the best tools for learning anything, and how easy it is to ignore them, to form opinions based on nothing substantial, and go off with a conceit of ignorance to face a life we don't understand.

Join me on the back porch. Let's talk.

DB - The Vagabond
Never give up.