HI, PEASANT
June 24, 2016

Henry David Thoreau–remember him?–said, I paraphrase, “A man is as rich as the things he doesn’t need.”
Isn’t that kind’a un-American?
I mean, isn’t it true the more stuff you have the richer you are? What I’ve found is: the opposite. The more stuff I have, the more stuff I have to dust, move, arrange, rearrange, walk around or stumble over. Do you ever feel that way?
What does it mean to be rich, anyhow? In my heavy dusty American Heritage Dictionary the first definition is “Possessing great material wealth”. Which would mean–would it not?– you’d have to be rich enough to hire guys to dust, move , arrange, rearrange, walk around or stumble over your stuff.
If you have enough long green to buy a Trump jet, you’d have to buy guys to fly it, fix it, clean it, park it and do other stuff you need to do when you own a flying white elephant. Wouldn’t it be better to have a plain old-fashioned elephant? You could take it for a swim, a walk, or feed it and sing it to sleep when it needs a nap.
I’ll admit I am a collector. I collect books and animals. I’d be lost without them. Books are my oldest friends. I enjoy the silence of their company and they’re always there when I feed them. .
The animals are my family. I’m happiest with a bunch of kitty/doggy/parrot snacks in my hand to feed them
But, like you, I love the malls. I love the herd when it’s feeding or shopping. Sometimes I think it’s where they’re most content.
Are rich people more comtent than us? Do rich people go to malls?
I see few Roll Royces in the parking lots. Maybe they drive cranky old clunkers when they go to Lihue? Then, with ragged baseball caps slung backward on their handsome heads, raggedy canvas shoes on their famous feet, and what goes on between the two raggedy, too, do they look like us? Would they be collecting stuff? Carting it around in shopping bags? How about munching a red hot dog in a fast food joint?
I probably wouldn’t recognize one if I saw one. Would you?
If they weren’t dressed up to walk the red carpet or had a string of serving men– and women– to protect them and carry all the stuff they bought , would they be visible to the naked eye?
We seem to be obsessed with money and guys who have it. We love celebrities who flash around like peacocks on parade. I’m told some who visit Kauai, love it here ’cause we don’t bug them. Maybe all the ogling gets a bit tiresome?
Maybe, for just a moment, they’d rather be a peasant. Kauai is full of peasants.
Me? I love to stroll through the mall and come out the other end package free. If a guy is as rich as the things he doesn’t need, I’m the richest peasant of all.

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AGREE TO DISAGREE
March 17, 2016

Thank you Editors, for the wonderful Forum page, Thursday, March 17.

Gene Lyons’ column is always a joy to read. He has many admirers all over the country. He’s articulate, funny, serious and profound.  (Hope you read The Hunting of the President.) To Google ‘Battle of the billionaires’ –that ‘fool thing’– would be, “…several minutes of your life you’ll never get back.”,  is so perfect I, as a writer, am green with envy.

Also, in case you didn’t know, Gene Lyons  loves horses, cows, and dogs. If my memory serves me, he has Great Pyrenees and his house, which makes his wife happy, too, looks a little bit animal worn and torn and friendly.  How could anybody help but love a guy like that? I know he’d love my house. Anyway, I hope everyone read TRUMP’S BRAND IS CHAOS.

One suggestion: Editors, please restore the discussion site. I think we’ve all grown up enough we could handle it well. It’s so wonderful to respond to other letter writers– politely, reasonably, with passion–it’s so much what America was and what it could be again.

By the way, your OTHER VOICES column is always a pleasure to read. Even if we don’t agree, what’s fascinating is how often we  find a moment when  we do agree with  the person with whom we disagreed.  We’re multi dimensional folks. We’re not gingerbread men. Wouldn’t it be a dull world if we all agreed about everything?

Please give us another chance.