The Times 

Avoiding the elephant in the room, with humor


To the editor,

I don’t discuss politics any more in situations where there will be nothing but an impasse and an argument. Call it avoiding the “elephant in the room” (or donkey, as the case may be), there are more important issues than complaining about things. Even the weather is a worthier topic of discussion because it affects us directly, and we can decide whether to throw a tarp or grab a lighter jacket.

Einstein once said, “A problem cannot be solved at the level at which it originates.” I’m an average mathematician, but I get his statement. A person needs to step back to see the whole picture: an artist getting a view of the whole painting or someone seeing how the sprinklers are set. 

A good conversation, like a good accordion, should be able expand as well as contract. If it can’t, then it’s got a hole in it or is permanently collapsed and no good to anyone.

I could do with a lot less anger and a lot more humor even if we’re standing on the brink, like the Pat and Mike joke.

Pat and Mike are mountain climbing. Pat falls off a cliff and breaks every bone in his body. Mike calls down, “Are ya still alive, Pat?”

“Just barely, but I can still talk. Can ya throw a rope down to me, Mike?”

“But what will you grab it with? Your arms are broken.”

“I’ll clench the rope in my teeth.”

“Okay, here ya go.”

Pat bites the rope, and Mike heave-hos him to the top, and just as Pat almost reaches the top, Mike says, “Well, we made it, Pat,” and Pat replies, “Yeah, ah, ah, aaaaaaaaaah!”

Michael Kiefel

Walla Walla, Wash.


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