I was saddened to learn today – via a Peninsula Gateway obituary – that former reader columnist John Earl died last week. Our condolences to his wife Kathy and family.
Earl was one of our columnists in 2008. He was also a frequent letter writer and contributor to the newsroom’s BackTalk feature. He was very active in the Gig Harbor community, having served on the Peninsula School Board and the South Kitsap Parks Commission.
He was an opinionated guy, and his arguments were always cogent and respectful. His columns were thoughtful, usually humorous and always well-written, rarely needing an editor’s touch. He was fun to talk to, too.
His obituary fittingly concludes: “John will always be remembered for his loving heart, infectious smile, sense of humor and his love of wrestling.”
What a loss. Earl was only 51.
Here are some snippets from his reader columns:
• From “Telling kids creative lies will prevent diabetes, acne”
It’s important to lie to your children. Not those well-worn Santa Claus or Easter Bunny-brand fairy tales, and certainly not the little white lies premeditated to preserve their innocence. I’m talking about huge, obvious, preposterous, outrageous, larger-than-life lies. In fact, it’s not just important to tell kids these lies. I believe it’s absolutely essential. That’s why I lie to my children every day.
I come by this dishonesty honestly. Like many fathers, my own dad lied to me incessantly. He’d tell me he had 11 fingers, that he could spell Mississippi with just one “i” or that he could stick out his tongue and touch his nose. Even though he could prove all of these things, I knew I was being hornswoggled.
“Dad, are you sleeping?” I’d ask. “No,” he’d lie, “I’m checking my eyelids for holes.”
He had me convinced that he could tell the sex of kittens by turning them over and looking at the bottom of their feet (I studied kitty paws for weeks without mastering that skill).
• From “Becoming a referee will cure delusions of adequacy”
Are you one of those poor, deprived souls with too few people in your life telling you what you’re doing wrong? Are you happy with yourself? Do you have delusions of adequacy?
Here is a sure cure: Cover your torso in black-and-white stripes and become an official for your favorite sport. You can do it today, because virtually every officials organization in the state is looking for fresh meat, er, new officials.
Am I crazy? Am I blind? Is my cranial cavity crammed with animal exhaust? You’re not the first to ask. These questions are commonly posed by otherwise civil and friendly people who observe my work as a local high school wrestling referee.
These questions are not posed considerately in personal interviews. They are angry thunderbolts hurled by bleacher dwellers some distance away. They question my judgment, my eyesight, even my parentage.
I practice not listening, but sometimes I am left to wonder, “Who are these extraordinary beings who believe they can clearly see from 80 feet away something I cannot detect from merely 3 feet away?
• From “Local races are where real action is”
I’ve recently come to a startling conclusion: Democracy is not for everyone.
No, I’m not referring to people in developing nations with nascent political structures. I’m talking about you, here in the U.S.
It turns out that a democracy is really an elite club reserved only for a very special group of people. Being a U.S. citizen does not in itself guarantee your participation in this great democracy. No, if you want to be part of this elite club you have to actually vote.
It follows then that if you are one of those people who chooses not to vote, you are excluded from this club. Oh, you can scream and yell, blog, write letters to the newspaper and create all kinds of noise, but you’re still not a full-fledged member of a democracy unless you choose to vote in elections.
Nonvoters exist in a serf-like state and are governed by rules set by others. At the end of the day, democracy is only for those of us who give enough of a damn to actually fill out a ballot. No others need apply.
So if you are a voter, take a moment to pat yourself on the back, and then get back to work. Because once you have voted in several elections, you realize that you can increase your influence in any election by actively supporting a campaign.