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When Standards Slide…Sigh

Posted on Friday, April 5, 2024
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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Definition of Standards

When at first standards slide … sigh. My parakeet, whose name is Grant (depending on his mood, Cary or Ulysses), has a spacious apartment, plenty of airflow, good food, and lots to drink (for his Ulysses mood, but just water). He can see the computer, TV, and outdoors. This morning, his apartment door was half open, mystifying me.  He was in a foul mood, you might say, discontent.

Now, I thought about this. He has occasionally tried to lift that door, but never gotten it open, since gravity defeats him. But somehow he got it propped open this time.  Of course, he does this at night. I decided we needed to talk, again.

I explained to Grant, a good listener when not murmuring, squawking, or screeching at squirrels, that we have rules. Within his world, he is free to roam, flutter, fly, and mouth off. He has his world and I have mine, which also has walls, and expands to a border, which typically has meaning.

I explained that the air on my side and the air within his well-appointed apartment were the same. I explained that it is what he does with that air, within his world, that matters, as it also matters in mine.

I explained that what he imagines is easier, the dog’s bigger water dish, squirrels robbing the birdfeeder, and me eating microwaved pizza is not much better; it all depends on him, on his attitude.

I thoughtfully explained that the door to his apartment is there for a reason, it has a purpose, to help him, help me, and keep us both sovereign, to protect his natural rights and mine as his neighbor.

I explained that I am also a good neighbor, as neighbors go. I keep no cats. I do not restrict what he watches. I do not put him with the frozen chicken. If he breaks a wing, is berated by the rambunctious dogs (who not so thoughtfully taught him to bark), or needs company, I am here.  

This is all part of how our world works or is supposed to work, what you might call our social compact, our shared expectations, and the Lockean liberal rules. He does not know the word laws, and thinks cages, like borders, might be a fluid concept. With patience, I slowly put him right.

Then it swept over me, he is smart, and he does watch the news. He probably sees all these rules getting broken and wants to give it a go. Come to think of it, the dogs are moody. So, having finished with Grant, I remembered deterrence and had a similar talk with the dogs, who both listened closely.

They too must obey rules, even if everyone they see on television does not, even if the squirrels do not, even if they hear important people giving treats to everyone, letting others out, and letting stuff go.

Everything was coming together nicely, we had our restored peace, common understanding, and the shared view that, even if the world is going crazy, we do not allow crazy here, not in these four walls. I had a column to write, and now needed some coffee, so put the tea kettle on.

You know, these are very strange times. People – and now even parakeets and dogs – are testing limits, feel entitled, want out, want in, think they can get away with things, lose their cool.

That’s when the tea kettle went off, which – as usual – set the parakeet off, which set the dogs off, which created pandemonium, and made writing a serious column darn near impossible. So, with a long sigh, I took the kettle off the stove, gathered the menagerie, and began the “We don’t riot speech.”

Does it ever end? Didn’t birds used to sing from cages, didn’t dogs sit at your feet and wag for a pat? I have to keep an eye on that Grant, who knows what’s next? When at first standards slide … sigh.   

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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Jan
Jan
1 month ago

This article was so enjoyable to read and yet meaningful in comparative way to our country today
I love to read your writings so keep it up, they are educational and witty

Max
Max
1 month ago

RBC, great and enlightening story to end this week. How true of everyday life. Enjoy Monday’s solar eclipse in your area.

Pat R
Pat R
1 month ago

When life is so ridiculous, as it is today, this wit is just what’s needed. It helps, at least for the few minutes it takes to read it. Wish a good and somewhat quiet weekend for Grant, the dogs, and RBC.

DonS
DonS
1 month ago

A great read, Robert!
Unlike keeping a feathered friend, mine was a large, female tarantula during my high schools years. A fellow student asked me her name and I said I didn’t have a name. Since my friend’s name was “George,” I asked him, “How about I call her George?” He agreed but I could not detect any simularities to associate biological associaitons.
So George it was! Her namesake was happy with my decision. Over five years in George’s enclosure, she spun her very fine weds on all four walls. Perhaps in her attempt to block out the snoring. George loved to curl up under my shirt while watching TV and never moved.
George was very comfortable with me as I was with her. For assurance that George still had fangs, I would gently use my thumb nail to pry one fang out. Her fangs were an inch long. At least I never had to be concerned about a politician with a phobia for spiders infringe upon my sanctuary. They naturally gave me lots of room!
George was quiet, no loud squawks to awake the household!

Gary
Gary
1 month ago

When you put an “s” on the end od the word standard, you negate its meaning.

uncleferd
uncleferd
1 month ago

One of the comments below reads something like… “life can be as ridiculous as you want to make it…”, which is a very rational observation in these times. I only wish so many among the “woke” would, more rationally, consider the question of whether they SHOULD make life for themselves and those around them, not only more ridiculous, but less worthwhile.

Debbie Boggs
Debbie Boggs
1 month ago

As usual, Robert, an enjoyable article – full of humor and tidbits of wisdom…never boring 🙂

Fearless Fly
Fearless Fly
1 month ago

Beautifully and poignantly written!

Betty Hallett
Betty Hallett
1 month ago

I will read whatever Robert Charles writes. I always find meaning even in the humor.

An older blonde women laughing in the kitchen with a grey haired man.
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