The Great Southern California Drought seems awfully wet nowadays. I read that it will take several wet years to rescue SoCal from its drought condition, but you have to give it to January 2017 for trying to do it all at once. Last Friday’s rains produced multiple mudslides that effectively turned Malibu into a peninsula in advance of the heavy rains that hit on Sunday. If the Pepperdine deer and coyotes start lining up in pairs, you will find me consulting Waze for the nearest Noah.
So it appears that the prayers for rain produced so much of it that the world around here is literally falling apart. Figures. Life’s strong suit does not appear to be producing a happy medium.
While not below the poverty line, I grew up relatively poor. In the early 1980s, my dad was laid off from his longtime work as a butcher in a meatpacking plant and took a part-time job at a neighborhood grocery store. I knew the store well, having built my baseball and football card collection from its candy counter thirty cents and one pack at a time. When my loving father found out that I liked a particular brand of candy, he would bring home so much of it in brown paper bags that I couldn’t stand to look at it anymore. You don’t get upset with a dad who loves you that much. But you do start secretly feeding Laffy Taffy to stray animals.
Moderation is as rare as happiness is elusive, and there just may be a connection between the two. And if the current state of American politics is instructive, moderation is less popular than ever. Extreme is in, and moderation is out.
Imagine changing the names of television shows and events from extreme to moderate:
- Moderate Home Makeover (ABC)
- Moderate RVs (Travel Channel)
- Moderate Weight Loss (ABC)
- Moderate Couponing (TLC)
- Moderate Homes (HGTV)
- Moderate Cuisine (The Food Network)
- The Moderation Games (ESPN)
Not really ratings grabbers.
But the ancient philosophers may have been on to something when they advised moderation. “Never go to excess, but let moderation be your guide.” (Cicero) “If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please.” (Epicetus) “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” (Proverbs 25:16, ESV; see also Laffy Taffy, above.)
As this blessed rain falls and the hills collapse, I guess I’m just thinking that the ancient virtue, Temperance, deserves a second look.
Posted in Original Essays
Tagged california, cicero, drought, epicetus, laffy taffy, malibu, moderation, pepperdine, politics, proverbs, rain, socal, temperance, waze
“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Waze calculates thirty-four miles from Pepperdine University to East Los Angeles College; the Pacific Coast Highway to East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue; the celebrity-populated western side of Los Angeles to Cheech Marin’s East L.A.; Malibu to Monterey Park. It sure seems longer, even in rush hour traffic. They are two different worlds.
I serve on the advisory council for the East Los Angeles College (“ELAC”) Pathway to Law School Transfer Program, a coalition of educators and practitioners brought together to destroy obstacles that stand in the way of a young person advancing from high school to community college, from community college to a four-year college, and from a four-year college to law school. It is an inspiring group, and I am honored to be a part.
It is also personally disconcerting. I’m not exactly sure how I, a first-generation college student from rural Arkansas, the son of a butcher who dropped out of high school to provide for his family during the Great Depression, am suddenly the picture of white privilege in a room full of impressive human beings, but as a lawyer who drove over from his condo in Malibu, even my expertise in denial simply tossed in the towel and admitted the truth. I may be the most reluctant privileged person around.
It was dark when the meeting ended, and on the stroll across the ELAC campus to drive back to idyllic Malibu, I noticed several classes in session. Maybe I was wanting it to be so, but it sure looked like all of the students in those classes were engaged in the instruction and not bored on Facebook. I’m just sure of it. I then wandered by the math tutoring center, and it was undeniably a hub of academic activity late on a weekday evening. All this made me feel particularly hopeful in this perplexing world of ours.
If I must come to terms with privilege, and I just might have to, I must use it to help those inspiring students hungry for knowledge in those hushed classrooms gleaming in the darkness.
Posted in Original Essays
Tagged cheech marin, dreams, east los angeles, elac, hope, justice, law, law school, malibu, martin luther king jr., pathways, pepperdine, privilege, waze