Let’s Lift Our Political Conversation Out of the Gutter: The Education

Every day our intelligence is insulted by political indecencies. The president, his entourage and followers don’t just tweet, they send out barrages of insults and half-digested effluvia. The temptation to respond in-kind is almost irresistible. Fortunately, Jean de La Fontaine saw our future from the 17th century and offers this counsel—resist the urge to degrade the conversation!

BaconScraps and Caesar, brothers whose heritage could be traced back to renowned dogs, were handsome, well made and bold spirited. In time, they passed down to separate masters. One haunted the forests and the other the kitchen. The two brothers started life with other names. But raised on different diets; one was fortified with a happy nature, while the other degraded. It was a short-order cook’s apprentice who named the kitchen brother BaconScraps.

Caesar went on many great adventures. He put the fear of god in innumerable deer and beat down legions of wild boar. He became the first noble leader in his race of dogs. He took care to prevent any unworthy mistress from contaminating his progeny with low quality blood.

Neglected BaconScraps offered his affections to the first passerby. He spread his seed around so much, that fast food became commonplace in France. His offspring were a breed apart; dogs who fled the least danger, a nation the diametrical opposite of Caesar’s.

We do not always follow our ancestors or our parents. With too little care and time, everyone degenerates. When we fail to cultivate our good nature and our gifts, Oh! How many Caesars become BaconScraps!

Our political conversation and climate degenerates daily. We are worn out by the stress of snorkeling through the sewage. “Everybody in our debauched culture invites us to simplify reality, to despise wisdom,” Susan Sontag said in 2004. Those look like the good old days compared to today. She was delivering a lecture on South African Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer titled “At the Same Time: The Novelist and Moral Reasoning”.

The media simplifies reality into lies. Logic dissolves. Wisdom is more despised than ever. Our immediate civic responsibility is to cultivate our good nature and our gifts. We must exercise our intelligence, our critical thinking and our discernment. Every day is an opportunity to be more civil, to share better, to offer greater respect to other people, our planet and all living beings. If you want inspiration (from a politician, no less) listen to this interview with Senator Cory Booker.

To fortify our happy Caesar and starve our inner BaconScraps, we must: Love wisdom; be curious in the face of complexity; and nourish mind, body and spirit with love.


Special thank you to my friend Remy Roussetzki for introducing me to this fable.

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