Men Building Bridges #15
‘foolish things shame the wise; weak things shame the strong.’
I used to live in a community that, prior to the real estate market crash, was one of the top 3 communities in which to live in the entire country. This august pronouncement was according to a prestigious real estate trade publication. I was surprised ending up there at that time, and even shared the article with my father. He’s not easy to impress. Sure enough, he wasn’t. It was a smaller community than most people realized, and it had an inferiority complex regarding the even more affluent communities surrounding it: wannabe’s I think is how my Dad put it, of the rich and empty.
Funny thing was, even though it was supposedly one of the most desirable communities in which to live in the nation, it could have some horrendous traffic, and a fiercely nasty reputation as a community of wannabes living beyond their means. People could be downright ugly. I experienced it firsthand working every day in that community as rude, overbearing, obnoxious people in brand-new Bentley’s, Lotus’, Ferrari’s, Rolls Royce’s, Aston Martin’s, and other exotic automobiles from a local, exotic car dealer regularly abused anyone not obviously in their social or economic circle.
The bubble was expanding, and everyone was getting rich quick, fighting over condos in downtown towers not even built yet, buying even bigger McMansions all on easy, impossible to repay, credit, based on very shaky equity & property values. It would only keep going up, or so they thought. I kept working, working out, saving, and renting a one-bedroom apartment in a community, that had forgotten it’s small-town roots, ridiculing the several, still extant, goat farms, horse & cattle ranches, produce farms, citrus groves with chickens roaming local neighborhoods. HOA’s loudly & publicly demanded something be done about the neighbors outside of their gated, over-reaching deed restricted communities.
After a particularly busy, frustrating day, I finished off the day by walking on a local lake’s edge, watching the sun quietly set as otters played in the water and a lone, bald eagle glided overhead. Later that evening, after working out at the local YMCA, I was on my way home. Driving on a brand new, 4-lane, divided boulevard, on the backside of a local, regional airport, I was amazed and came to a complete stop. There, in the middle of the road, straddling a dusty, mud-caked ATV, was a local farmer in cut-off jean shorts, flip-flops, and no shirt, slowly waving a flashlight in the dusk, just after sunlight, trying to get drivers to slow down.
I pulled up, in my 6 year-old generic 4-door plain white car, curious, thinking there was an accident. In a slow drawl, he explained, ‘Yeah, best you might slow down a bit. The cows done got loose. Ain’t got a bit o’sense. You hit one a them at fifty-five-miles-an-hour-per, it’ll make a God-Awful mess. So’s you best go-slow ’til ya hit the other side of the airport out by the river. We’ll get ’em rounded up for ya. Jes’ be careful now, ya hear? Good to see ya’ll this evening.’ He smiled, waved, shook my hand, offering me a cold bottle of water. I gratefully accepted it after my workout. An exotic sports car blew past us, swerving, squealing his tires, horn blaring, fist waving, quickly morphing into a lone, single, middle finger in a flash. The local farmer just shook his head, ‘Hope he don’t hit my cows. I’ve been here all my life, you’d think they’d listen to someone with some sense, trying to help ’em.’
I drove away, shaking my head, smiling and chuckling to myself. Calling my Dad, I told him he’d never believe what had just happened, but still driving slowly & cautiously with my high beams on. Sure enough, I came across several cows around the bend and twin tracks of swerving tire marks on the pavement. If I’d been driving the 55MPH posted speed limit, I *would* have made a God-Awful mess, not only of myself but of the poor cows that were milling about in the middle of the road. (Note: Gratefully, no animals were hurt in the experience herein described.)
That community now, still, has hundreds of empty, abandoned, foreclosed homes. HOA’s are struggling to meet their obligations and themselves are being bought out and disbanded. Crime is now a growing problem in the once-vibrant, fiercely competitive, ambitious community. The community is now shell-shocked as the once-ridiculed farmers are buying up the empty developments for pennies on the dollar. The farmers, still sadly shake their heads, now leading the community that scorned them, chickens, cows, goats, and all.
Just as in life, wisdom is delivered to us in many forms, from many people. We can’t ever judge anyone by their appearance, especially when they have our best interests and safety at heart. Pay heed to warnings, counsel, stories, no matter who they come from. The universe may just be trying to tell you something. If you don’t listen, or worse, ignore wise counsel, a warning, or insight, you just might very well make a God-Awful mess of your life, or someone else’s life.
Think of what you were when you realized your calling. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. The foolish things still shame the wise; the weak things still shame the strong. The universe chooses the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that none can boast before it.