Over there, it’s spelled ‘Vild’

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, February 4, 2009

“…For centuries bullies in high places have felt entitled to push other people around. They have felt entitled to cheat little people of their life earnings. Not that there is some technology for changing their behavior, I suggest we pick it up and use it. Perhaps, soon, white-collar bullying, like slavery, will no longer be acceptable.” — from the preface of Carol Bly’s “Changing the Bully That Rules the World”

A reporter asked Eugene McCarthy, some of you remember him, about Bobby Kennedy’s athletic prowess when they were both seeking the presidency. McCarthy’s response, “Bobby Kennedy plays softball. I play baseball. Bobby Kennedy plays touch football. I play football. Bobby Kennedy goes ice-skating. I play hockey.”

In 1968 there was another battle being fought beside the one we were involved with in Vietnam. There was an attempt at a social democracy in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), a reform movement headed by Alexander Dubcek, which was finally suppressed by the Soviet Union.

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I remember years later, before the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia when Westerners were chastising a Russian professor for their actions in Prague in 1968. He responded by saying they put down a revolution with firing a shot, but you killed four students at Kent State.

Twenty-one years later, the Velvet Revolution did come about when their chant was “truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred.”

But then “something not so funny happened on the way to their post-Communist paradise. ‘People stopped smiling at each other and began thinking about themselves. There’s a lack of love.’”

A me-first attitude had opened a huge rich-poor gap, contributing to an all-around “bad mood” as former Czech dissident-turned President Vaclav Havel put it.

The article pointed out that in the U.S. people who have success are to be admired while there, in the Czech Republic success is a source of suspicion and envy.

I’m not sure this is the case today. Over the years I have had the opportunity to spend some time in places other than Austin and probably the place that stands out is Prague in the Czech Republic and having an opportunity to join with a Czech cousin around the kitchen table breaking bread and sipping on a homemade alcohol beverage at the Vilt Homestead. There, the name Vilt is spelled Vild.

I remember my father telling friends how Grandpa Tom and his brother Charlie would argue over the correct spelling of Vilt when they were drinking.

I talked to my daughter the other evening about Prague, and the nature of it, the happiness we saw there, and the good spirits of the people we saw there. Lydia suggests the peace and prosperity is brought about by the secular attitude toward community. I hope she has an opportunity to visit Prague some day. Lydia did get some time in France with Jeanne while the boys and I slept in.

I wonder if there is any counterfeit ink being used in Iraq, perhaps by those still fearful of booby traps or assassins. Maybe we ought to be required to dip our fingers in ink when we vote, although I’m not sure that would sit well with our population. I don’t think it would have made any difference in the close vote between Franken and Coleman.

My prescription would have been a duel at the entrance of the Mall of America or maybe in the parking lot or maybe down in that flatland further south of the mall on Highway 71. I hope this gets settled before the session ends or maybe they could divide their time working in the senate. It has to be hard on both of them. I read that Coleman got some other work while they are doing the recount, yet he has been with his lawyers every day as they muddle through the recount again. Apparently he has a job that he can manage with his cell phone and probably gets reimbursed quite well for doing it. I don’t think he gets paid on an hourly rate like the fading working class people.

I did read Mr. Alcorn’s column on Monday where he gives thanks to President Bush for his service saying, “When a president leaves office, it is fine to lighten up on failures, celebrate accomplishments, and express gratitude for public service.” He also quarries the ‘polite booing’ of Garrison Keiller.

Mr. Alcorn wraps it up with: “For at least this, we are logically obliged and reasonable pleased to say: “Thank you, President Bush.”