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Things Dear Jon has found to be true.

by Dear Jon
August 30, 2001

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78th Sort_Dear Jon-Things Dear Jon has found to be true. ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON

Dear Jon:

Follow up. Thanks for the dumbest things you ever heard. The reverse is also worth knowing:

What truisms have you found to be true and useful?

Art in Life

Dear Life,

Shouldn't you have signed this letter "Life in Art"?

Unfortunately, the list of "true and useful" things is much, much, smaller, and most of them are corollaries to Murphy's Law.

In a previous post, which I do not have time to look up, I elaborated a philosophy about meaning and purpose in life. That is about the truest and most useful thing I have ever read.

Here is a new truism: Most truisms are provided by humorists. Consider: Mark Twain, Dave Barry, Erma Bombeck, Marx (Groucho), Will Rogers, George Carlin, James Thurber, Steven Wright, Alan Alda (through Hawkeye Pierce).

Truisms not provided by humorists, tend to be provided by founders of religon. Consider: Moses, Buddha, Confuscius, Jesus Christ, Mohammed.

If it's not funny or it doesn't shed light on the divine, it isn't going to endure as a truism. Consider: Freud, Marx (Karl), Jean-Paul Sartre, Descartes, Plato, Aristotle.

Philosophy, like Science, changes its presuppositions with the progression of knowledge. Humor has much more in common with religion, because both humor and religion have unchanging presuppositions. The common presupposition in both humor and religion is that human beings tend to fail, and tend to protect themselves from failure through insensible social conventions, such as using more than one fork, democracy, and gender-segregated public toilets.

Anyway, that's why my column on the purpose and meaning of life, wasn't funny. Neither is this one, for that matter.

I have found these to be true:

A stitch in time saves nine.

Don't place all your eggs in one basket, and don't count your chickens until they've hatched.

Computers are like men. You have to turn them on to get their attention.

Computers are like women. It takes another computer to understand its internal logic.

Hell hath no fury as a woman you have just asked to fetch the pretzels. (Original with Dear Jon).

Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Some comedian said that the best way to fix a problem, is to try to show the problem to your mechanic.

Somebody, I think it was Mark Twain, once said something about death and taxes. I don't have time to look it up but it sounded pretty true.

Samuel Johnson said the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I once was lost, but now am found.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (people) are created equal....

Better is a little with peace and quiet, than a feast with much strife.

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but time and chance happen to them all.

T'was grace that's seen me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.


Dear Jon,

There may another way of looking at "My country, right or wrong." With the rise of murderous totalitarianism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer - residing, I believe, in the USA - didn't go to Spain, Italy, or the Soviet Union, he went back to his country Germany. He went back not only to try to correct the wrong path that country was taking - he could have done that with a lot of countries. But he went back to Germany because it was, indeed, his country. Perhaps "My country right or wrong" means not support for a country's bad policies, but that patriotic responsibilities remain - and are perhaps more important - when the country is wrong. Just a thought.

Your friendly colleague,
James Leroy Wilson

Dear Leroy,

I'm your "colleague" like Bud Abbott is a "colleague" of William F. Buckley.

Semantic logic dictates that Bonhoeffer's love for Germans means that he also fit the profile of patriotism and the ethic "my country right or wrong." I agree that Bonhoeffer is the true patriot. However, in the sense that the statement is usually taken, Bonhoeffer was viewed as a traitor by Germany's ruling regime, because he spied for the English through Swedish diplomats and was involved in the plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. It is far more likely that the millions of regular Germans who goose-stepped in the ranks of Rommel's or Guderian's panzer divisions, saw themselves as embracing the ethic of "my country, right or wrong" in the sense that the statement is itself intended. Whereas Bonhoeffer aided and abetted Germany's enemies out of a sense of higher duty, these millions of others suspended conscience in the name of duty to country, which is the value implied in the statement, and one of the dumbest values ever to persuade a human being.

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