Doctor, Doctor won’t you please save me first and get me to the front of the line?
The Power of the Youthful Pen – Princeton Writing Academy Grand Writing Contest
Yes, this Younger Generation will amaze you. On Thursday, Bart had the privilege to announce the winners of the Princeton Writing Academy’s Grand Writing Contest, sponsored by Prometheus Publishing. Academy Director Janine Edwards and her instructors have taught their students remarkably well. Before an audience at the Princeton Community Television Station, 5 and 6th grader semi-finalists read their own notably insightful, finely crafted tales. These authors addressed homelessness, struggling under the competitive spotlight, fickle popularity, and an imaginative depiction of a young Chinese girl’s experience of encountering Chairman Mao Zedong. Meanwhile, the 7-8th grade authors read impressively thoughtful offerings as an allegory of destructive greed, inventively mystical self-discovery, and a probing story about facing the final moments of our world.
Janine had given me the honor of acting as judge for the finalists. As I read through their stories, I couldn’t help but be struck by the honesty and perceptive scrutiny of these young authors. Then I looked at what I was writing when I was their age, and all I can say is that we have no cause to despair of today’s youth. A new generation of idealists is blooming.
So this knee-jerk, flaming liberal walks into a biker bar and turns to the guy wearing the “Trump for 2020” leather jacket and says…..
December 28; on Del/MD’s the eastern shore flatlands. It looked like a homey tavern, with just enough mild dilapidation on its clapboard front to seem inviting. So my wife Lorraine and I parked our hybrid beside a long row of shining Harleys and entered in search of some good, home made chow. The busy waitress at the bar frantically served under fluttering dome of dollar bills – each individually clipped to some carefully strung web overhead. The fabulous home cooked food was richly appreciated by us and by the leather-clad bikers heartily hunkered down on all the bar stools and around most of the small tables.
At meal’s end and Lorraine headed for the restroom, I began chatting with a few of the bikers. Most of the men, like the majority of club riders I’ve recently encountered sported white or graying hair and jackets with an array of intriguing emblems. Turning to the “Trump for 2020” biker, I thought of Dr. Dale Caldwell, a guest on our The Art of the CEO radio show and author of Intelligent Influence. Dale insists that we all formulate our aims and opinions based on that array of influences which surround us from birth, and until you gain some understandings of a person’s influences, you will never be able to work with him.
“So where’d ya ride from today,” I asked the biker as he sipped his beer. Eric told me of his home down on eastern shore Virginia. We chatted briefly. He fixed engines for bikes and cars. I told him fix words for books. We shared a few nods of commiseration on the hassle of working for someone else – and the almost-as-bad hassle of working for yourself. Before leaving, I asked if he thought President Trump was giving him a good deal. Warily, he answered in the affirmative – giving a couple of reasons. Then he asked what I thought. In a sentence I replied. I bid him a good new year and hoped that he didn’t run into anything large on his bike. “Back atcha,” he smiled. Neither of us did, or could have, converted the other, but a few seeds of understanding from that other side got planted. Gotta start somewhere.
Oh, and the dollar bills? Back in the day when most of these bikers sported their original hair color, the R&R Grill & Bar had developed a justified reputation as a rowdy biker & hard-bitten local bar. Finally, the new owner, I was told, decided to keep folks in line by announcing, “The first time I hear you use the ‘F-word’ or the ‘N-word’ you are going to have to hand over a dollar and I’ll pin it above. The second time I hear you employing those words, you will be invited to leave.” The idea stuck; tolerance came to R&R; and now folks have gotten into the habit of signing and posting dollar bills in support of keeping this watering hole on friendly terms.
As wished for in the haunting verse of O Come O Come Emmanuel:
O come desire of nations bind
In one the hearts of humankind
Bid thou our sad divisions cease
And let us join the Prince of Peace.
May we sample a bite of hopeful idealism this coming year,
– Bart Jackson