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Burning house

04/17/2012 @ 7:57am

So, how many of you remember Star Trek?  I suppose it’s probably still showing on one of those TV channels that we don’t get.  Not the new episodes, but the very first TV series from the 60’s.  

I loved it then, but I bet if I saw it now I’d think it was pretty awful.  Life is like that -- the heroes of your youth don’t always stay impressive as time passes.  While Lou Gehrig and Harry Truman have hung in there for me over the course of the years, there aren’t very many television shows that really stand the test of time.  

I still remember one episode in particular.  The Starship Enterprise was headed off on a mission and for some reason, a bunch of aliens -- Klingons or Romulans or something similar -- were aboard.  That was bad enough, but then it was discovered that another alien was on the ship, one that fed off the negative energy generated from people quarreling.  It had the power to cause the quarreling and the angrier people became, the more powerful it grew.

It’s possible that I could be missing a few of the details.

Anyway, it wasn’t long before everyone on the ship was fighting and the more they fought, the angrier everyone became and the more powerful the evil presence became.  Luckily, Captain Kirk figured out what was going on and was able to persuade the head of the other side to come to reason.  Together, they decided that the only way to get rid of the evil alien was to get along.  The head Romulan/Klingon said, “Only a fool fights in a burning house.”

I saw that show four decades ago.  There’s not a lot I remember from back then, but I do remember that.  No small accomplishment – I was thirteen; I barely had a brain, let alone a memory.

Only a fool fights in a burning house.  Have you read the papers lately?  Listened to the news or even turned on the radio?  I’m not going to say the house is on fire – this isn’t the Civil War or the Great Depression, but I think we have a few little smolders simmering hither and yon.  And sadly, our country is full of fools, because it doesn’t seem like anyone is doing anything but fighting.

The really frustrating thing - the part that just makes me want to scream - is that the problems we’re faced with aren’t insolvable.  WE CAN FIX THIS.  Sure, we live in a hard old world, with troubles and tribulations to spare, but that’s a fact that has always been true.  The problem is the way we go about doing things.  I just read an interview with an activist, and it doesn’t really matter which end of the political spectrum he’s from, in which he said, “Well, the first thing you do is get a group of people together and get them either mad or scared.”

Really?  That isn’t the way most people I know get things done.  Being mad, or scared, only takes you so far.  More often than not, it alienates people, ends discussion and debate, and doesn’t carry you toward anything positive.

Only a fool fights in a burning house.  We don’t need to be friends with everyone, don’t need to bond or hold the hands of people with whom we don’t agree.  But we do need to work together or the fires will get totally out of control.

Copyright 2011 Brent Olson

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