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Forty Years with Birds and Dogs 

A Digression--of Sorts

It's election day. My adolescent duck, Puddles, a purebred Khaki Campbell, is finally learning she can't go through the chicken wire fence to get to the pond. Now she knows, sometimes, that she must turn away from the pond and go around the fence to get out of the pen through the door. Then, and only then, can she waddle up the path to the pond.

Do you suppose we could all take a lesson here? Too often our brains want to take the direct path to the pond--whatever that represents--like, for example, a stable, equitable future with rewarding jobs for all. People need jobs, so grow grow grow--money and business, anything. Batter down the fence to get there if necessary. Our brains are so focused on the pond, they simply can't see any open doors that might lead to the pond by a different route.

I couldn't "teach" Puddles to go away from the pond in order to get there. If I tried to usher her around the inside of the pen to the door, she would panic and run and eventually get there, but she wouldn't have learned anything. Several times she had to do it herself--actually turn herself around by trial and error, if her memory failed, and get out the door to the pond. Only then did she learn to take the indirect path on purpose.

So it is with us humans, even the candidates, as we decide, or not decide, how to vote. We see the pond we want, but we haven't yet learned that the chicken wire fence called growth is not the way to get there.

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