Big enough lies, cherry pickers, 3-headed snakes & progressives

Dear Editor:
Our recent columnist and letter writers, Messrs. Zafros, Livesay, and Tuckwiller, as well as myself, of course … we are cherry pickers.
We choose our statistics, anecdotes, “facts” and myths to support our positions, conclusions and beliefs. Few, if any of us, are capable of a truly coherent, consistent, unbiased viewpoint beyond a few sentences.
That’s not bad thing. That’s a part of human nature … it shows that we are engaged, that we wish to share thoughts that are important to us, that we care.
But do not be fooled. We do pick those cherries … by the bucketfuls.
And we find engaged verbal cherry pickers everywhere among us … on bar stools, in pulpits, in our media, on our front porch steps and across the backyard fence. And, shockingly, occasionally even exposed upon the tongues of our politicians.
My Pappy had a bit of a gift for teaching us urchins about life’s lessons, usually with props and often with humor.
One of my favorites was his black and white photograph of the 3-headed snake … which, upon close examination, was exposed as a bent, coiled and roiled, mess of baby snake bodies … each having a single head positioned closely alongside the heads of its siblings.
He disliked the use of the words “always” and “never.” Uncountable are the numbers of times that he cautioned us about those two words and other “facts and truths.”
He called that bit of homegrown philosophy “taking a peek around the backside.” Or, specifically: “you look at that snake real close now, son.”
These days, his methods would likely be called “critical thinking.” That is, if we’d listen, pause, and try to envision the big picture, we’d often find exceptions to “facts and truths,” to “always and never.”
Hard to believe, but sometimes, just occasionally, we kids would change our point of view if we took that “peek around the backside.”
I majored in English, at the only college that would accept me, because it was easy. It required only that I regularly read some really good stuff.
And, it left most afternoons and evenings free for “taking a peek around the backside” of the omnipresent banter at Dr. Wart’s Bar & Poolroom … featuring 25-cent Pabst Blue Ribbon … in cans only … Glass bottles had, years earlier, proven to be too closely associated with black eyes and split lips at Dr. Wart’s.
Yet, a fortunate consequence of those four years of wasted youth was the formation of a habit of looking into a dictionary and discovering much fun, especially for us cherry pickers.
So … for the engagingly loquacious Messrs. Zafros, Livesay, and Tuckwiller … and countless others of our neighbors who have been trudging through life, struggling to define the term “PROGRESSIVE” … I offer, from “”, cherry picked with great care, a definition of the root word “progress”:
• a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage.
• advancement, in general.
• growth or development; continuous improvement.
• the development of an individual or society in a direction considered more beneficial and superior to the previous level.
* antonym (or, opposite): regress (or, go backward).
To many of your readers, that base definition may sound suspiciously like “the American dream.”
It just may be “true” that those who hold that “progressive” view of things … that sort of positive, upbeat outlook toward getting things accomplished, improving things, helping to lead us in a more beneficial direction … they may be on to something good. They may make good leaders.
P.M. Curtice


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