Other people’s madness

LANTANA, FL — I don’t think I’m the only one who left the last meeting of our homeowner’s association feeling good about our community. It was a model of protocol. We not only had a quorum, but every single person there behaved with consideration and decorum.

We did of course catch a few lucky breaks. The one resident gets particularly loud and belligerent by the time of evening we continue to hold our meetings apparently got too drunk to show up. The resident who could have taken the most offense at some of the proceedings (we were discussing his unsuccessful lawsuit against the association, and our plans to sue him back for attorney’s fees) has become increasingly distracted and wasn’t paying attention during that part. Also, though, some people made a real effort. One old woman, who has in the past issued such comments as “why don’t you go have another drink,” and “shut up,” held her tongue. The resident who on the last meeting I attended charged on another elderly woman with a balled fist, kept his seat during the whole meeting. And the resident who second guesses the board at every item at every meeting did so without actually saying “you don’t know what you’re doing,” as he has in the past.

So I couldn’t have been more impressed with our little community. I admit to being invested in that pride, having just become our community’s First Lady; the main squeeze was elected at the end of the meeting to succeed the outgoing leader (who completed his term, although, his wife shared with us, he had been urged to step down sooner by his doctor). Then the next day the new president shared with me a new resident’s impression of the meeting: “He said it was madness — sheer madness. He wanted to know if they were always like that.

How embarrassing. We had become, as people everywhere do, inured to our own madness, and think our best day is good enough.

I thought about this when wondering how to answer an African friend of mine who just wrote to inquire about the political scene here. I take it he has picked up some hints that our Republican brothers and sisters face a difficult choice — which of their prejudices to surrender. It would be easy to point to their madness when I respond to my friend — a different mean-spirited, unprincipled incompetent has won each of the primaries they’ve held so far. But then I think how unfair. To them, perhaps, each of those forays into democracy represented progress — as they got rid of the woman who said HPV vaccines make you retarded, the guy who can’t count to three, the one who upon dropping out of the race immediately began to trash his former boss (and who is one of the two who believe in magic underpants), and having already lost the one who doesn’t know where Libya is, but sure would have handled things differently than our president, if he did.


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