The General and the Particulars

The General and the Particulars

By Blaney Pridgen

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser. 

Older memories can be more vivid than the relatively recent ones.  Why is that?  Maybe we haven’t dealt with the more recent memories enough to allow them digital quality.  Who knows?  An ancient memory for me is running for office in high school student elections.  I clearly remember the principal congratulating us candidates for not saying anything negative about our opponent.  We stuck to our own qualifications and what we would do in office.  The character of our opponents was not a matter to be mentioned.  I remember thinking it odd that the principal would think we might even do that.  Of course not!  That would not be cool, and our Sundayschool teachers would never approve.  Obviously, I had not paid sufficient attention to the nature of grown up (supposedly) political campaigns or the history thereof.  Many years later, I would observe and personally experience the reality of smears, slander, half-truths, and outright lies in campaigns to election.  Do we really grow up or do we grow down?

I am a student of the general and the particular in life.  Generally speaking, I believe, ‘ain’t nobody no good no how.’  As the apostle said, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  In elections, this is especially true if one believes that only half of what one hears is accurate.  Neither side is any good according to the both of them.  That might be true, if but for 50% of what one hears and reads about both sides.  We would like to believe that 51% of us can decide what is true.  I’m not so sure of that.  It doesn’t much matter what you and I are sure of.  Ultimately, the electoral college and the Supreme court will tell us what we are collectively assured of.  And the beat goes on.  

The general matters of our experience do not give me much hope for the triumph of good and the American way.  On dark days, I can verge on cynicism and misanthropy.  But, then again, we can turn to particular experiences in life.  I believe, in particular, that every human being is capable of graciously showing love and gratefully receiving love.  Even the individuals we seriously disagree with, the ill-tempered, the dull-witted, and other tosspots, scofflaws, brigands and rowdy types…even they might graciously show love and gratefully receive love.  And even you and I might.  If we make the effort to seek out and celebrate the good individuals and the stories about them, we shall discover that love abounds even in the worst of times.  Furthermore, if we work at weaving together enough of those particular stories, we might begin to overcome the general badness, misery, and mendacity of life.  

When it comes to making serious assessments of individuals, groups, and larger corporate entities, I believe we should be more motivated by the individual and not the general.  In other words, where is love being graciously given such that it might be gratefully received?  I am for the loveable and the lovely in the little particular things I can see, not in the rumors of what I cannot. 

Here’s another ancient memory.  My father would get upset with my bad conduct grades even when I did well in the academics.  Remember conduct grades?  He would say that it did not matter how smart I was if I could not conduct myself appropriately and in accordance with what is good conduct and behavior.  I thought he was wrong until I learned the hard way that he was right.  So was my high school principal.  The particulars matter.  Pay more attention to what someone says about themselves exhibited for all to see in their actions.  Pay less attention to what they say about their opponent.  

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