Some Mondays are days when it would be easy to be either “maudlin” or “muddling through,” but for everyone from “home executives” to corporate executives, to city executives, it is important to have a system to get back into a realm of the encouragement of oneself as well as others. Sometimes you don’t have a great deal of time to do so, and if you delay, things can begin to stack up on the inside. The Psalms record that “David encouraged himself in the Lord,” and the series we are currently exploring from the book The Traveler’s Gift, is so well-crafted that it isn’t completely necessary to read it in order. Last time, we talked about a fictional conversation with Ann Frank, and this time our “traveler” visits Harry Truman as he is weighing the decision to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Our hero, whose name is David Ponder, is privy to the agony that Truman went through when he wrestled with the decision to use a true “doomsday weapon” whose impact could not have been anticipated, either in its sheer awfulness nor the speed with which it brought World War II to an end.
Now, neither you, I, nor Mayor Ronnie are facing down anything as wrenching as what “Give-‘em-hell” Harry ever did, but sometimes I know that for me it can feel that way. One of the things that I appreciate about the fictional portrayal of the protagonist’s conversation with the president is that Harry responds, “I never give anybody hell. I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.”
I sighed as I read that statement, and determined to step up my own game as it pertains to being told hard truths that demand either a change of words or of action. Growing is painful, not growing is fatal. Mayor Ronnie had gotten some bad news about a long-time friend who had been diagnosed with cancer, which was tough, and he and his department heads had gotten through the budget process, which is always a relief. The mayor mentioned that Truman’s most famous statement, “The buck stops here,” noting that he knew it applied to him as a man as well as a mayor. What is little known is that the origin of the phrase for which Truman became famous came as a result of a friend of Truman’s seeing it on the desk of a guy who was running a prison in Oklahoma. The friend asked the warden to see if a similar one could be made for Harry, and the rest, as they say, is history.
We moved on to topics that were much more light-hearted -- the fact that Fiddlers’ is here, soon to be followed by the Storytelling Festival from October 23-27. It is especially fun that we are getting to add to the festivities with the up-coming birthday party of our city. There will be more on that soon. There is a group of Airstream campers who have paid for there to be water and electricity at the Sportsplex, and as of Monday, October 1, people had already claimed their spots in front of the main stage at Fiddlers’ by planting their camp chairs in front of Founders’ Hall. The “planters” are also keeping track of the claims they have “staked” by checking in on social media, a strategy that is new in this festival season. There was much to pray about and people to pray for, so we did, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner