Carpool Chronicles

The year was 1986. I remember that distinctly because it started out with the accident of the space shuttle Challenger.  There were 3 of us, myself, Elizabeth and Allen.  We would all carpool to work in Allen’s  80s Nissan small pickup. I have always been a bit of a gearhead; can’t help it.

Elizabeth was from Belgium – a good 10 years younger than me.  I could imagine her in the throng of people over there protesting the NATO decision to deploy Pershing missiles in Germany just a few months earlier. She was of the next generation after  the carnage of WW2. She worked in another department; Allen  and I were computer programmers.

Allen was my boss.  He loved the Japanese culture and had recently returned from living in a small Japanese town for a year or so. About all I knew of Japan was Tokyo and the horrible cost of living.

Allen assured me that one could live quite comfortably if simply for $500/month  if you lived in one of Japan’s many small villages. You had to like rice, though.

Allen and Elizabeth were both towards the left side of the political spectrum; I am on the right. The terms “left” and “right” always fascinated me, as they originally came from 1789. 

The terms “left” and “right” appeared during the French Revolution of 1789 when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the president’s right and supporters of the revolution to his left. One deputy, the Baron de Gauville, explained, “We began to recognize each other: those who were loyal to religion and the king took up positions to the right of the chair so as to avoid the shouts, oaths, and indecencies that enjoyed free rein in the opposing camp.”   However, the Right opposed the seating arrangement because they believed that deputies should support private or general interests but should not form factions or political parties. The contemporary press occasionally used the terms “left” and “right” to refer to the opposing sides”

Perhaps a Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Karr, had it right when he proclaimed that “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”

To pass the time while in traffic gridlock, the 3 of us, all ensconced on the one small bench seat, would discuss…..politics. We all had a genuine curiosity to understand why the others believed what they did. There was no name-calling but a mutual respect and curiosity.  At times, we all conceded points made by others.

How I miss that time….Maybe it was an aberration in the general political discussions people have but it is possible.

I certainly can’t speak for Lex; I didn’t even know of Neptunus Lex until after his accident. But Lex wrote from the heart and having read – and reread – the postings that we had from him (thanks to one Lexican who saved them for later reading) I got the feeling that that is how he strove to run his blog.

People of all beliefs were welcomed; just be civil to each other and have a reasoned point of view. At least that is my belief since I did not know him. Which, as I came to believe, was my loss.

Come to think of it, Lex did have something to say on this matter.

I think that he would have liked Elizabeth and Allen.

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