Monthly Archives: October 2016

Hang On

I’m reading Ralph Nader’s memoir The Seventeen Traditions (HarperCollins 2007). and much to my surprise it is well worth the read. It is the gentle telling of his growing up life in Connecticut. Nader has never been one of my favorites and today I have suspected and tentatively confessed my prejudice. For the younger among us, Ralph Nader ran as a third party candidate for president on the Green Party Ticket in 2000. Perhaps, he drained enough votes from the Democrats to give the election to George W. Bush.

The Naders were immigrants and as they established themselves, they became active politically and in civic events. Their senator was republican Prescott Bush who is the father of a president and the grandfather of another. In August, 1955 a hurricane destroyed main street of the Nader’s home city. Ralph’s mother determined that only a dry dam could prevent the city being so damaged by every storm that followed. She talked to a friend who had connection with Prescott Bush to push for that dry dam.

“Alas, came the report, Bush responded with no more than a smile.” (page 140)

One day, that mutual friend invited Mr. Bush to speak in the area. Mr. and Mrs. Nader went to hear him. Let Ralph Nader’s words describe the event.

“After his speech, my mother went over and introduced herself. As she was shaking hands with him, she said, ‘Senator Bush, Winsted, Connecticut needs your support in getting the Army Corps of Engineers to build a dry dam to prevent future flooding.’

“Bush smiled, but said nothing.

“Mother always loved recalling what happened next. ‘I wouldn’t let go of his hand,’ she said, ‘until he promised to help.’ She had a tremendous grip”

Prescott Bush did help. A dam was built. There hasn’t been a flood since.

Mrs. Nader said, “If you want to get a politician to stop smiling and start promising,” she always said, “just don’t let go of his hand.”

©2016 D. Dean Benton—Benton Books, Blogs, & Blurbs.

Kind Doesn’t Cost Much

  1. Benton Blogs, Books & Blurbs

Ralph Nader uses the phrase “Casual cruelty” in his book The Seventeen Traditions, (HarperCollins 2007). We didn’t use the phrase “verbal bullying” much in 2007. Casual cruelty describes a mean remark about and to a thirteen year old girl by a kid who was not normally a bad mouth. But it hit her like a harpoon and his buddies smirked.

I don’t watch late-night talk shows because guests and hosts seem to be all about casual cruelty. I heard POTUS use that fine art of nasty communication yesterday. The recipient of the barb deserved it, probably, but I expect more of leaders.

One of my favorite TV news commentators said this has been a very difficult year for her. The vitriolic words and tones have hurt her. She corrected herself. They have driven her to her knees. She was stating a fact, not just a phrase. What a nice lady. I think she should be on the ballot and I would vote for her no matter what she was candidating for. She is brilliant, has a kindness about her soul and her smile takes the edge off of toughness. That differentiates meanness from observations about wrong behavior.

This election season has turned the airwaves and stump environment into a cess pool. Last week, I sensed God was speaking a “word of the week” to me.


What would it have cost Mr. Trump had he greeted Mrs. Clinton with a “hope you are feeling better” at the debate? Being civilized does not equate to agreeing with nasty behavior or encouraging stupidity. Crude, mean, barn lot behavior seems to define our culture. One of my friends has become severely handicapped—he can’t post a Facebook note regardless of length without using the F word. He is a better person than that! I doubt he would use that word if we were talking face to face, but it has become part of the entertainment milieu,social interaction and sadly it has taken control of his media device. A writer’s Holiness mother said, “You don’t want to be afraid to use the word “DAMN!” but you sure don’t want to waste one.

I know God said the word “Nice” to me and maybe not to you. I’ve found several convenience places during the past week to drop in a passionate DAMN! but I’m working on “nice.”

Finally, I’ve concluded that the words of the politicians have almost convinced me they do not deserve my vote. I don’t want to encourage their trash talk or behavior.

©2016 D. Dean Benton–Writer, Wonderer, Soul-Tender

From I Will to I Do

In case you missed this the first time.

Benton Quest House

Two things I know about weddings: traditional pre-marital counseling is usually a waste of time. That is why I beg the couple to set up a conversation six to twelve months into the marriage. The bubble will have burst and they are no longer so in love they have no conflict and their partner doesn’t even have to use deodorant. The second thing I know is no matter how eloquent my homily the bride and groom are not listening. They want to, but they are worried about the industrial-strength deodorant not being adequate. Most of my great wedding messages are for those in the audience who are ready to trade their spouse for a good Cocker Spaniel.

We don’t know if the Apostle Paul was married or not. I think he was. He speaks instructions that carry the weight of experience and mistakes and scars.

I no longer ask the bride…

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Chalk Line

Among the first tools I purchased for my own tool box was a chalk line. A few months ago, I was hanging eaves trough and couldn’t find the chalk line. A person can install rain gutters without a chalk line, but almost everyone will know. I looked in my three official tool boxes, some plastic storage containers and in all the junk drawers. The tool was gone.

I hired a friend to finish the job that was two feet over my head (read that courage). He told me he had forgotten his tool box containing his chalk line and wondered if I had one. So I told him the story I’ve just told you. I told him I would look again, but after thirty searches I couldn’t imagine finding it. I scoured the three major boxes, the plastic containers and all the junk drawers. Nope. We talked about possible options. I sorted through all those boxes for string and in my primary tool box in absolute plain sight—nothing covering it—there was my chalk line. I told Adam I had looked in the tool box 30-35 times. Probably an exaggeration, but without a doubt, I had looked 10-12 times. How could I have missed it? It is about 4 inches by 6 inches plus. Hardly miniscule.

A chalk line is string wrapped around a cone in a box of blue or orange chalk. Mine predated orange by several decades. The process is to hook one end on a nail and pull the string out of the metal container for a few or a hundred feet. You pull it taut around another nail at the far end and the snap the line. It leaves a straight line to guide things like foundations or roofing. Next to a plumb line, a chalk line is fundamental to quality construction.

November 9, 2016 has occupied my mind. We have talked about this election just this side of constantly. What will this country look like on the morning of November 9? What will have been set into motion? I’ve concluded madness has taken control and above everything else—this country has lost its chalk line!

I’m reading a biography of Winston Churchill. At his death, he was among the most honored and revered of men, Citizens from 110 nations had assembled–six monarchs, five presidents and fifteen prime ministers had assembled for the funeral. Stephen Mansfield writes

“…they were free to return to their lives in the world Sir Winston had worked to build, to the future he had struggled so valiantly to preserve.” (The Character and Greatness of Winston Churchill, ©1995, 2004, Cumberland House Publishing)

When the bunting, placards and speech notes are swept up on November 9—the day after the election—what shall we return to? Who will set the chalk line? Lord, whatever you plan to be doing on November 9–please schedule in mercy.

©2016 D. Dean Benton &