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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Two Keillor Conclusions

Today we watched a documentary entitled Garrison Keillor: Man on Radio in Red Shoes.  In this video Garrison Keillor, creator and host of the popular "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show, comes to two conclusions that definitely resound within my own experience.  First, when he was young he did not want to be ordinary.  Certainly this is a widespread feeling.  Who on youthful graduation from high school has the burning ambition and desire to be ordinary?  No, the contrary feeling arises—not to be merely equal but to be special and to rise above the ordinary.  Then, as we grow older, we come to appreciate a fundamental paradox of life—being ordinary is perhaps the hardest yet most rewarding achievement possible.  We come to appreciate that people who strive to be extraordinary at any cost frequently have the saddest and most unsuccessful lives.  Like a true leader who focuses not on achieving leadership status, but rather on doing a job they feel compelled to do; the ordinary originates from passion and authenticity which focuses on immediate needs.  Here, urgent fulfillment falls within the doable rather than the remote and dubious.  I often think of what my Sunday school teacher was fond of repeating—“Bloom where you’re planted.”  It is just too much of a gamble to never serve now hoping to bear better fruit in the uncertain future.  Too strong a hopeful ambition can really come down to the selfish denial of life.  

The second conclusion Keillor came to in the video is that the American people have a deep commitment to kindness.  This kindness is something I have been blessed with all my life.  Even when I have taken positions which were controversial, I have found kindness on every side despite disagreements.  This deep-seated goodwill arises from a common belief that we are to be true to ourselves—and if points of views clash, better honest disagreement in which we are true to our own lights rather than feign harmony which inevitably would bring about a destructive cynicism.  This quality of compassion is based on empathy well-grounded in the values of democracy.

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