Hear ye! I henceforth issue these two executive orders
Time’s a-wasting! Just as February winds down, I am at long last issuing my first two executive orders.
Issued on Feb. 19, 2017, these orders rest on the authority vested in me as the leading candidate for the presidency of the Association of Befuddled American Citizens, who seem to be emerging as the true majority.
Executive Order 1: All citizens are now assigned to help me find the student named Irene who took a class with me 40 years ago. As soon as we find Irene, we will unite in pleading with her to redeem our troubled nation.
This requires a little background.
When I first started teaching, I was lulled by the faith that my good intentions would spare me the misery of having conversations spin out of control. And so I took every opportunity to encourage students to speak openly and honestly in my classes.
On one memorable day, a student seized on my invitation. Leaving out the specifics, I will summarize his statement: He felt contempt and even abhorrence when he encountered members of one particular sector of the American population. Unknown to him, some of his fellow seminar participants were members of that sector.
While I watched this interpersonal train-wreck unfold in the legendary slow motion that characterizes calamities, a quiet student named Irene took charge. She said to the outspoken student, “You know, we often hate in others what we fear in ourselves.”
“Now things are really going to go wild,” I thought.
But they didn’t.
The room did not explode in bitter accusations and denunciations. No one stormed out of the class. No one filed a grievance. Instead, an exchange of views that could have passed for a civil discussion took place in the class, and conversations with individual students occupied my next days.
And then, several weeks later, at an end-of-the-semester party at my apartment, the students — who had once seemed destined for enmity and distrust — instead improvised something that resembled a Virginia reel, and danced with each other.
Irene’s forthrightness had somehow charted for us a route to a better outcome.
Irene, wherever you are in 2017, your nation needs you. And invoking Executive Order 1, I plead with you to report for duty.
Executive Order 2: People who live in glass houses should stop stockpiling stones to throw at other residents of glass houses. If they won’t stop soon, American citizens should respond to this ridiculous practice with widespread merriment.
Making innumerable false statements himself and denouncing other people as dishonest promulgators of lies, Donald Trump presents himself as the individual most in need of this mirthful treatment program. Laughter will function as our principal tool of enforcement, with citizens licensed to savor the intrinsically hilarious spectacle of a man condemning in others the very quality that defines his own conduct in life.
If these executive orders strike you as laughable in their naïve hopefulness, all the better. It is common wisdom that laughter extends the life of an individual. Maybe, if unleashed in its full power, it will extend the life of a democratic republic.
If inspired to creative thought, readers should send proposed executive orders to firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone who would like to hold office in the Association of Befuddled American Citizens should submit statements of candidacy.