Rumsfeld And The Reverend: Pretty Poor Stuff
I remarked in the last post about comments made to a preacher who was satisfied with his orations. Here's another one: A preacher was glowing with pride as the church members made their way out of the sanctuary, and he asked an honest old farmer what he thought of the sermon. The farmer, who just had to be truthful, shifted his Sunday allotment of chewing tobacco from one cheek to the other as he gave his verdict. "I was in the back pew, Reverend, and the people up front were swallowing up all the best parts, so what got back to me was pretty poor stuff, pretty poor stuff."
Often this is the case. Right now in U.S. politics we have seen the departure of Donald Rumsfeld and the startling power shift in the Congress. This is, of course, the fallout from the voters in the world's most powerful country telling their Chief what they think of him. His performance does not fit his statements, and what the people really heard was not honest confidence but desperate bombast, or to quote our church-going farmer, "pretty poor stuff". Another familiar quotation that comes to mind is Abraham Lincoln's "You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time".
Those responsible for misleading us don't always intend to mislead, as they often sincerely believe what they say. Some simply want to be followed, to be important, and they adopt causes and speak accordingly. But eventually "the truth will out", and what gets to "the back of the church" is "pretty poor stuff" indeed. So what's the message for us in all this? To warp a couple of well-known sayings: Listen before you leap, and listen with your eyes open.