"It was beautiful and simple, as all truly great swindles are."
-- O. Henry
I like simple things -- the cardinal on the trellis as I sip my morning coffee; the fog that hides a cold stream before the sun clears the trees; the smell of jasmine on a summer night; the sweet rumble of a Gibson J-45 in open tuning.
Yep, simple is how I roll, as they say. Simple is beautiful. Simple is easy. Simple is as simple does.
Which makes what I'm about to say that much more difficult: It's my deepest wish for 2006 that all of us begin to realize that the siren song of simple can lead us far, far astray.
When, for example, the president says there are only two courses in Iraq -- defeat or victory? Which would you choose? Why, victory, of course. What kind of moron would choose defeat? But what is victory? It's hard to say at this point. A secular Arab democracy? If last week's voting is any indication, we're more likely to have spent three years and thousands of lives setting up an Iran-like Islamic state. Is that victory or defeat? It's not so simple, after all.
And slogans are seductively simple: "Stay the Course;" "Bush Lied and Soldiers Died;" "Don't Cut and Run;" "No Blood for Oil;" The War on Christmas."
It's my hope that in 2006 all of us can move beyond the barricades of our slogans. We need to embrace "the complicated." We need to start thinking rather than simply reacting. Simple works for bumper stickers; not so well when it comes to policy decisions.
Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...