IT'S EASY IF YOU TRY

Remember 1971?

Richard Nixon installed a secret taping system in the White House, and Joe Frazier beat Muhammad Ali. You could buy a new Malibu Barbi for $1.94 and an Etch-A-Sketch $2.83.

Jimi Hendrix's arrangement of the "Star Spangled Banner" was broadcast over Radio Hanoi, and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" won the Grammy for best song.

A highlight for me was the passage of the 26th amendment which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

The USSR performed numerous nuclear tests, as did the USA. And, there was trouble in the Middle East, and at home. The Supreme Court upheld busing as means of achieving racial desegregation, and Charles Manson was sentenced to life for the murder of Sharon Tate.

On a brighter note, the State of Washington became the first state to ban sex discrimination, and Apollo 15 launched (Scott & Irwin) and completed the fourth manned landing on Moon.
"Ed Sullivan Show" aired its last broadcast on CBS-TV, and the White House Plumbers unit was formed to plug news leaks.

Late in the year, Don McLean's 8-plus minute version of "American Pie" was released. John Lennon released "Imagine", and a book called, "A Theory of Justice" by American philosopher, John Rawls was published.

From assorted websites I was reminded that in 1971:
Average Cost of new house $25,250.00
Average Income per year $10,600.00
Average Monthly Rent $150.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 40 cents
A Ladies Beret and Scarf Set was $6.00 (apparently those were a thing).

Let's go back to John Lennon and John Rawls. I don't know if this singing/songwriting Beatle and this philosopher knew each other or not. I hope they did. I wish I could have been in a coffeehouse with the two them, maybe John the Philosopher would have mentioned the book he had just written, and I would say, “You know, John the Philosopher, the concept of your book reminds me of the idea of a song that John the Beatle just wrote, called "Imagine”.” Lennon might say, tell me about your book John, and he might say:

Imagine that you have set for yourself the task of developing a totally new social contract for today's society. How could you do so fairly? Although you could never actually eliminate all of your personal biases and prejudices, you would need to take steps at least to minimize them. Now, imagine yourself in an original position behind a veil of ignorance. Behind this veil, you know nothing of yourself and your natural abilities, or your position in society. You know nothing of your sex, race, nationality, or individual tastes. Behind such a veil of ignorance all individuals are simply specified as rational, free, and morally equal beings. You do know that in the "real world", however, there will be a wide variety in the natural distribution of natural assets and abilities, and that there will be differences of sex, race, and culture that will distinguish groups of people from each other. (From Wikipedia)

Then maybe John the Beatle, would sing the chorus to his new song:

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

And I might mention, John the Apostle, who told about one who was life and light, and this light shone in the darkness but the darkness did not understand. Imagine that.

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I have five Grand-Girls, and NOW A GRAND-BOY. You may not know though that there is another little girl who has a piece of my heart. Her name is Maimouna. I have never seen her in real life, but I have seen her picture. She writes me letters and I write to her. She draws me pictures and I tell her I think of her and pray for her often. I send her a little money every month and a little more on her birthday and at Christmas. She is eleven now. I’ve been her "sponsor" since she was five. She is beautiful.

Maimouna lives in Burkina Faso. In Africa. Her family subsists on little. Life expectancy in Burkina Faso is low. There is a strong chance that she will suffer genital mutilation at puberty. Over 70% of girls there do. Her favorite subject in school is art, and she obviously loves color. 

 The pictures Maimouna drew for me in her last letter.

The pictures Maimouna drew for me in her last letter.

I know I’m naive, proved by the fact that I prefer anecdote to anaylsis, metaphor to methodology. At least I’m willing to admit the dangers in that kind of rhetoric. For example, consider Inhofe’s Snowball, to coin a phrase. (Maybe this will catch on like Pandora’s Box or Schrödinger's Cat.)

You remember Inhofe’s Snowball right? Jim Inhofe, our long, long, long term senator from Oklahoma, infamously carried a snowball into the Senate Chamber one very cold Washington D.C. winter day. He stepped to the podium and said, basically, that his snowball was proof that global warming was a hoax. That’s a really big conclusion from one snowball, but that’s what anecdote and metaphor can get you if you’re not careful.

Imagine, though, if the rules we play by were written behind a veil of ignorance. What if you didn't know if your were going to be born to healthy, loving, caring parents in the USA? What if there were a possibility that you would have been born a little girl in Burkina Faso? Imagine if the rule makers were humble, if they were selfless, if they could imagine the full impact of their rule and rules on the world, the whole world, not just the one of privilege. Imagine light in the darkness. If John Lennon is right, "It's easy if you try."