Everyone has heard the timeless saying: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” We are reminded of that in many different ways during our daily lives.
An old saying I think I have used before in the Chatter Box, which I like more than the judging a book quote is one from Abe Lincoln,” I do not like that man, I must get to know him better.”
The reasons I think of these quotes now are the stories of distrust, dislike and disrespect between American citizens we see all day on TV “news” reports. It doesn’t make any difference if the issue being debated is health care, the economy, international trade, immigration, the budget deficit or infrastructure rebuilding. There are two lines drawn in the sand; both sides have their heels dug in and they are not moving. This is because each side is sure the other side’s opinion is wrong.
Lines being drawn in the sand are not new and that can be shown by a quote that is over 200 years old by one of our founding fathers, “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.”
I believe that both sides of most opinions are trying to achieve the same end result. Both sides want our streets to be safe, they just don’t agree on how to achieve that. Both sides do not want our government to keep sinking deeper in debt, they just don’t agree on how to achieve that. Both sides want fair international trade, they just don’t agree on how to achieve that. I could make this same statement about most — if not all of the issues that are dividing us; they just don’t agree on how to achieve that.
It does seem that many of our elected officials that serve as our representatives in the bicameral legislative bodies in Harrisburg and Washington need to start the conversation with where they want to end up at the end of each legislative session, instead of starting with what they will not be willing to agree with.
Maybe our elected representatives think it is easier to get reelected by kicking the can down the road than it would be by giving in a little to achieve a lot for the greater good.
Maybe some of you are wondering at this time what the title of this letter has to do with anything I have written about so far. I will now get back to the lesson I have learned from the pumpkin patch this year.
As many of you know, my wife Deb and I grow a you-pick-it punkin patch each year. We grow different pumpkins, squash, gourds and ornamental gourds each year. Over the years we always had trouble growing one kind of pumpkin that visitors to our patch have asked for: white pumpkins.
We have tried different varieties and different ways of planting them so we would have white pumpkins. Nothing seemed to work; until this year. We planted a different variety this year and we had more white pumpkins than we ever had. The folks that came here to pick punkins were really pleased when they found white ones out in the field.
During the month that our patch was open, Deb and I chatted with many folks about the white punkins. I know both Deb and I told a number of folks the white punkins were orange inside. The ones we grew in the past were orange inside and were white on the outside.
About the time that Halloween was over and the patch was done, we both saw one of our white punkins that broke open. We could not believe our eyes; it was white on the outside and also on the inside. We got to thinking the folks that we keep telling the white ones were orange on the inside must have thought we didn’t know anything about the punkins we grew. We both wish we had checked them out at the beginning of October instead of the end of October.
This might not be a great analogy on achieving goals in Harrisburg and Washington that are best for our country, but it is the best this punkin farmer can come up with.
Our goal was to raise more white pumpkins. We tried different methods to achieve that goal, nothing worked until this year. A lot of white pumpkins grew this year with the changes we made, we were happy and our customers were happy. The only difference was the inside was white and not orange. I do not think anyone that wanted white pumpkins really cared what color the inside was when they were decorating them or setting them around their home as a fall decoration.
We achieved the goal of growing more white pumpkins this year. If we would have stuck to the goal of growing more white pumpkins with the inside being orange, I doubt if we would have been anymore successful this year than we were the last several years.
Maybe our elected representatives could take a lesson from our punkin patch. If they want to get past the gridlock and achieve what is best for the commonwealth and the nation they need to be willing to be flexible.