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The Miracle of Me  – CHAPTER 15


Walking through your day you step past the most undervalued, precious assets we have: those few still willing to be our children’s teachers.

As parents, we no longer pay them, encourage, or respect them as our parents and their parents once did. Worse yet, since parents don’t, the children don’t either.

The temporary shell was needed to relieve the school’s overcrowding, a lonely cube of a portable classroom deposited out on the back lot. Students sat on their desk-tops, happily laughing and tossing whatever was at hand at each other across the room. They were celebrating that happy event when their teacher was out sick, and a substitute was needed. Then I walked in.

I had been substituting for about a month at some of Tucson’s tougher schools. All of them had serious problems due to funding requirements that reduced the number of teachers while retaining each student no matter how disinterested, disruptive, and abusive they were.

As I began taking the roll, I asked the students to settle down and please take a seat. Most did, with a few I had to repeat myself and one, a 13-year-old named Tommy — well he was different. Tommy remained seated on his desktop with his back to me. “Very funny,” I joked, “but I need you to take your seat so we can get started.” His response commanded the clear vocal projection of a seasoned actor on the Broadway stage, “Fuck You,” along with a crowd-pleasing hand gesture on a limb streaking toward the ceiling, announcing to all that I was his number one.

Now I was an imposing presence, 6’ 4” and 245 pounds of mostly muscle at the time. I instantly wondered how Mrs. Shenfield, my third-grade teacher at 5’ 2”, would have handled this. I had no idea, so I simply towered over him and with a stern voice ordered him to take his seat or he would be sent to the principal’s office. Tommy redelivered his line and gesture, adding that they didn’t have to do anything some dumb substitute said.

I wrote out a pink slip and told him to get out and go to the principal’s office. He sneered, snatched it from my hand and stomped out. For what remained of the 50-minute class the portable was rocked, first by him launching his body against its sides and then by rocks and bricks, until just before the bell rang when I had to unplug the air-conditioner because it started to spit out dirt and then smoke.

As soon as the bell rang, I was out the door chasing Tommy around the building where he entered the class from the opposite door. Pushing over all the desks and chairs he could, he ran out the opposite side.

I did not catch up to Tommy until the last bell of the day. He was trying to sneak out through the one gate students could get to their school bus. The march through the school’s halls to the principal’s office was a long one and for the ages. Every disgusting, vile thing he could think of, and I dare say you too, was disgorged in an endless tirade of colorful descriptions regarding my privates and how I used them. I was amused, silent and just made sure he stayed on track directly to the principal’s office.

When we got to the office, the principal was on her way out, and as I quickly explained about the destruction of property, she blurted, “I don’t have time to deal with this now,” and walked away.

Arriving the next morning there was a note on my desk saying, “Report to the principal’s office immediately.” It was there that I found the principal, Tommy and his two angry parents. The principal immediately announced that I was being dismissed. As my jaw went slack and I dumbly responded with a ”Huh?” there was a knock on the door. It was another teacher who said she had something to say. As she closed the door and began to speak there was another knock on the door, then another. Within less than a minute the room was filled with strangers, all teachers, none of whom I knew.

It appears that Tommy caused such an uproar in our walk down the halls to the office the previous day that teachers had streamed out of their classes to watch the scene as we passed. I had never seen them, nor do I remember what each one had to say that morning in the principal’s office, but it was pretty much along the lines of what that first one said who claimed she had never seen anyone suffer through such outrageous abuse and yet remain so perfectly calm.

Turns out neither Tommy nor I got released that day. With Tommy the school needed to continue counting him as a student because funding depended upon student retention. With me, well that was because if I had been fired a dozen or so other teachers were about to take a walk.

I think the world of schoolteachers (unlike college professors, who are unfortunately better paid, often full of themselves and get to teach people who pay to be there). Schoolteachers are never full of themselves and are given our youngest minds, at their most vulnerable, absorbing, educable time in life, yet we strip them of authority, money and our respect, yet still expect our children to excel in reading, math and have some knowledge of civics — all of which plummeted in recent years.


Next to my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Scheinfeld, Mr. Evans became the greatest teacher ever with nothing more than a moment out of his day. He was the school’s track coach with a sideline as the remedial math teacher. Or maybe it was the other way around, I really didn’t know.

I was working on some simplistic bit of math designed for pinheads in the school’s remedial math class. He walked up behind me, stood there a second checking my work. Then he did something no other teacher had ever done, would do, think to do, or have any cause to do: He put his hand on my shoulder, smiled, and said, “You’re good, too good to be here.”

With that moment from an adult I admired, I took off like a rocket into the unknown. I devoured math, excelled at math, and suddenly became better than anyone I knew at math. Within two weeks I had been taken from Mr. Evan’s remedial class and dumped into Mr. Karloff’s advanced trigonometry class. I had begun having dreams of being a great architect or astronomer.

That moment of encouragement would live on in my recreations of it for other children to this present day, whom I have strived to have that same effect upon.


Well, I did not become an architect, and my astrophysicist dreams ended abruptly with Mr. Karloff’s trigonometry class.

On my first day in his class. Mr. Karloff a mean, craggy 300 pounder with a scowl cemented to his face, caught my best buddy Stevie Bogard, who had been in the advanced class for some time, chewing gum. Mr. Karloff explain to the class that “Stevie must not have been on his mommy’s tit long enough,” as he picked him up by his heels and shook him until the gum fell out.

Unseen, in the back row I swallowed my split of Stevie’s gum and slunk deep into my seat, invisible again, my glory days with digits over.


Now Mrs. Upham, the history teacher, was the school’s oldest, with long gray-white hair pulled back so tight it must have hurt. A joyless woman and devoted sleuth, searching for any and every fault a child might have.

Now back in the 1960s, and maybe even with some teachers today, being unappreciated as they are, what they taught in history class was tested something like this:

Event #1, who was involved and on what date?

Event #2, who was involved and on what date?

And so on.

Little effort, at least in my experience, was made to make history exciting and relevant. Tests were simply exercises in memorizing names and dates, apparently with the purpose that you can still remember them to this day.

But one Friday, Mrs. Upham really hit a homer with me. She said, your homework assignment is to do a report on Arizona’s gubernatorial history.

Wow, now that is relevant, that is the office my dad ran for, and I was all in. Screw the neighborhood games and TV. I didn’t work on it all weekend, I reveled in it all weekend.

When Monday morning came around and the other students put in their one and two-page papers I handed in a 30-something page manuscript of each governor’s accomplishments, records, and dates, complete with what pretty pictures I could find of governors visiting historic sites cut from Dad’s stack of old Arizona Highways magazines. I gave Mrs. Upham a big smile as I set my masterpiece in front of her, knowing my work would be as unexpected as it was treasured.

Mrs. Upham picked it up, quickly leafed through it and then wasted no time on her evaluation. “You didn’t do this,” she scowled, then ordered me back to my seat.

I got a D.


Almost all teachers, in my experience, were on the student’s side. My French teacher was named Mr. Gauntlet. How perfect is that? It was my sophomore year, and I am pretty sure that I chose French because I thought it would impress girls. In fact, one day it did impress one. She was very cute, a new student who came to school wearing a blouse with La Fleur de Jardin printed on it. A remarkable streak of luck, since those happened to be the only four words of French I knew and would provide me with the only truly impressive opener I ever had.

She did not know what the words meant. “Why you are the flower of the garden,” I said. She turned beet red and gave me a smile to die for.

It made me want to follow up with, “Would you like to go out, fall in love, make babies and spend the rest of our lives together?”

At the end of that sophomore year a remarkable event was brought to my attention. It looked like I was going to make the Honor Roll. The Honor Roll! Me, the invisible idiot? The Honor Roll? All I had to do was somehow not flunk French. Not possible I thought, I had flunked every French test, quiz and question Mr. Gauntlet had given me. It had become so hopeless that I had stopped handing in homework assignments weeks earlier simply because I no longer understood what the assignments, now given in French, were. Mr. Gauntlet, who seemed to like me despite the grinding wreckage I made of his native tongue had mercifully stopped calling upon me in class.

But with the Honor Roll there was the chance I could announce to the world that I was not as stupid as I thought and was sure everyone else knew me to be. I went to see Mr. Gauntlet, told him about my Honor Roll dream, “if only I could somehow pass French.” A kind, gentle fellow, he wanted to protect me from myself, and told me that if I could get just enough questions right on the final exam to get a D he wouldn’t flunk me.

I went home and crammed for a full 20, maybe even 30 minutes. It was too painful, just too hopeless. When the following week’s exam was scored Mr. Gauntlet pulled me aside and told me that I did not do well, that I had not only gotten the worst grade in class but that I had the second worst grade in the entire school. “Second” I thought, well that’s something. Then to my excellent surprise and what I would later see as symptomatic of the lax educational system’s “keep students happy” horror spreading across the land, Mr. Gauntlet gave me my D.

For that D, he wanted a deal, as he put it. “I’ll give you a D on one condition.” “Yes, anything,” I said. “That you promise me you will never take French again as long as you live.”

No winning lottery ticket ever felt so good. I made the Honor Roll, dubious as it was, and Mr. Gauntlet would not have to worry that I would enter some colleague’s French class claiming to have passed his.

(New chapters will be added roughly once a week)

Richard Kimball, Vote Smart Founder

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 Despite the trials that stick out like blades of grass on a finely mowed lawn in my childhood, I had a wonderful young life.  My recollections are filled with an endless series of seemingly undramatic events, smells, tastes, feelings, a wonderful never to be replicated sense of freedom to dig in the dirt, build a fort, climb a tree, do some good long-distance spitting, or just fart, that you will never know again as an adult. It was a world of excitement filled with what now appears to be insignificant things but then were wondrous and fun.  Even now, more than a half century from my childhood, every rare, wonderful once in a while, some unique mixture within a moment will plunge me into some distant memory of my youth when the mixture was precisely the same.  It can be something as simple as the angle of the sun sparkling off a puddle of rain, the warmth and color of the sky at that moment in the day, the taste of dirt picked up in a gust of wind, the smell of a broken branch or some crushed fresh leaves in my hand, the sound a bird makes when you have crept so close you can hear the flap as it flies away, the jarring shock of a thunderbolt when you were told to come inside, or the rich scent of a freshly mowed lawn at the park. At the right receptive moment, almost anything has the potential to let you close your eyes and send you back decades when you were tasting, smelling, feeling, hearing, and seeing it all for the very first time.

 School, church, neighborhood friends were important, but the real action was at home.  I have been fortunate to come into contact in my adult life with a number of wealthy, famous, powerful people but none ever rocked me like my brothers Billy, Bobby and Johnny.

 It would be so much more entertaining to review the childhood behavior of my three brothers than that of my own.  They were so much more adventurous in life than I.  In almost every measure that you could make of a child I was more cautious and less courageous than my brothers.

 My adventures seemed always unplanned and unintended.  If I had a hazardous harrowing experience it was inevitably a mistake. Like the first time I unwittingly slammed against death’s door and tried to shove my family through it.

 It started when my mother put in a swimming pool.  She did it at about one thousandth of the cost of our neighbor’s pools which she had no desire or ability to compete with. Instead, as only our mother could or would, she paid a truck driver to haul in a round metal cattle tank. As cattle tanks go it was a large one about 10 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet deep. She then stuck a hose in it, which we let run endlessly.

 No pool anywhere on the planet was ever such a hit.  No one wanted to swim in the parentally supervised, take a shower, don’t get dirty, crystal blue water affairs of our neighbors.  We were forever removing the bottom metal plug and refilling ours with fresh water to ready another day’s duty.  The area around the cattle tank was a mud bog of infinite possibilities where the muddy water closest to the tank was simply a slimy extension of the “pool” itself. The mud a little further away was perfect for a style of gluey bathing all its own and the mud furthest from the tank brought the kind of impromptu heaven known only to a hot desert childhood – a far more colorful version of a snowball fight. 

 The tank itself was a true wonder.  With just a couple of kids it could be instantly transformed into a cleansing vortex of what appeared to be chocolate milk.  My mother had created the nation’s first water park and not one of my neighborhood friends did not prefer it to their own chlorinated, parental law-laden show piece.

 The only fascination I had with the other neighborhood pools had to do with what creatures might be trapped in the gutter or filter. More importantly, what was with all those cleaning chemicals emblazoned with the skull and cross bones stamped on barrels and jugs of stuff?  Ah, the mystery of the innocent-looking fluids and powdered chemicals. 

 My brother Bobby was the “should have been a scientist” of our family.  At 15 he could already explain to me Einstein’s theory of relativity, how we were made of mostly nothing, and that you could not really touch anything because atoms repelled each other.  I was fascinated by his stories and more dangerously by his experiments, the most dramatic being how he could take a little yellowy powder (sulfur), mix it with this or that and create little poofs of fire and smoke.  Wow! In the kiddy land of our 1950s world, that was downright atomic.

  One day, when Bobby was off studying or reading some boring intellectual fare, I borrowed a little capful of his magic sulfur and took it over to Stevie’s, whose family possessed a few large jugs of those cleaning chemicals emblazoned with the word DANGER.

 We mixed a few things together, but nothing happened. Then we saw the large barrel of chlorine.  We took a pinch of it, mixed it with our last bit of sulfur and waited, but again nothing happened. To give it a little assistance Stevie went in to find some matches. A few minutes later Stevie and I entered the ranks of other great scientists.  The match instantly ignited the concoction with a brilliant, gagging, choking, gaseous stench.   To me the world of science would never again be as exciting or as educational as it was about to become.  In the dusk we ventured off into what should have been our deaths, and if the timing was right the death of everyone in my entire family.

  We didn’t know how people got chemicals, but we decided if anyplace would have them it would be the drug store, a short few blocks’ walk.  Down every aisle we carefully examined the bottles and powders we thought most promising and worthy of scientific research. There were all sorts of exotic-sounding substances; we considered potassium, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and glycerin. Ah, glycerin, we thought. That is at least half of what we need for nitroglycerin. Then I saw it, couldn’t believe it was super-sized, but there it was: a big yellow pint-sized bottle marked sulfur, a sure thing, and absolutely essential for any good research.

 Using money we had saved up from neighborhood yard work, we purchased two of the largest bottles they had and headed for the basement at my house. A basement that was just large enough to house a furnace and a table to conduct experiments on.  It may have been small but it had all the other essentials:  it was dark with gray walls and one naked ceiling bulb for light. Adding to the ambience was a damp earthy odor that fit perfectly with the low growling noises the furnace made.  It was precisely the kind of site Dr. Frankenstein would have chosen for his finest work.

  It was getting late, almost dinner time, and we decided not to mess around. We went right for the sure thing: the five or six pounds of chlorine Stevie had brought bundled in a large colorful beach towel from his house and the two giant canisters of sulfur, our most prudent purchase.

 As the sky turned black, we decided to leapfrog over incremental scientific investigation and simply poured the sulfur, all of the sulfur, into the towel bundling up with the chlorine. It was our intent to go into the back yard and light it. The towel was heavy, and it took both of us to twist the towel ends together and pick up the massive ball.  I think it was Stevie that felt it first, “my hands are getting hot.”

 It was just one of those fortunate little coincidences in life, that the stairs I was walking up happened to be on the outside of the house and built out of cement. At the first step the towel began to smoke, a few more and I doubted my ability to hold on to the steaming buddle. By the top the towel was in brilliant white flame, we dropped the bundle and fell sprawling into the gravel gasping for clean air.  But even as I crawled through Stevie’s vomit and began some of my own, I was able to marvel at the towel which was now a brilliant crystal white light that turned the neighborhood night into day.

  I would later be told that the light from the ball of purest white light could be seen at the neighborhood edge and that the chlorine gas created would have terminated everyone in the house had we not managed get it out the door and crawl away.  Although my brothers had little to say in any admiring way, Stevie and I had clearly made an impression on our parents who now saw us as scientists to be reckoned with.

New chapters coming once each week — Full book thus far under THE MIRACLE OF ME / autobiography of a nobody

Richard Kimball — Vote Smart Founder

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Mark Watson

I had an exceptionally happy childhood draped in countless adventures with friends, brothers and two never-could-be-duplicated parents.

So, I ask myself, why have I spoken mostly of traumas? I think it is because the traumas we recall seem to stick up like weeds on a nicely mowed lawn.

Like Mark Watson, the only other person I would ever know who struggled so between the black art of invisibility and the desire for acceptance. There is a Mark Watson in everybody’s life. Now, even sixty-five years later, when I think of Mark, I still cringe with self-loathing.

He was a slightly odd new kid in class, so anxious to make a friend that he became the brunt of the kind of cruel jokes children are capable of.

At a class party of sorts, Mark and I were the two self-designated wall flowers when it came time for everyone to sit at a long table to enjoy some cake. It was then that a fun idea came to me that I was sure the “mob” would enjoy. When Mark followed me to the cake table I kindly offered him a chair and as he turned and sat, I pulled it away. He hit the floor in a humiliating sprawl and the class exploded in cackles of laughter.

His eyes were welling with tears as he pulled himself up, staring at me. He was completely broken and then ran out. It was the kind of look that eats your heart and burns into your brain forever.

At Mark’s expense I learned one of the most valuable lessons of life. The next morning, I became Mark’s friend but never forgot what I was capable of if I simply followed the mob.

It is easy, comfortable, and safe to follow the mob. It is why, I suppose, so many are mob followers today, rather than taking the harder, lonelier, more constructive road of thinking for oneself.

I would feel a debt to Mark Watson later in life, as I tried to be one of the constructive, and would, at least in part, thank Mark for it.

Anyway, arriving at school that next morning I became Mark’s friend. Arriving, I saw some in the class were doing their best to have a little more fun with Mark. They had grabbed the cap off his head and surrounded him, tossing it around in a circle. Mark, upset and on the verge of tears again (a schoolboy taboo of galactic proportions), was desperately trying to retrieve it. As I walked up, Mark glanced at me and just gave up, going over and taking a seat on a bench.

Thinking I was now part of the game, one in the mob suddenly tossed the hat to me. I turned my back on the mob and walked over and sat next to Mark placing it on his head. Not done with their fun, my classmates came over to snatch it off Mark’s head again, but that did not happen, and Mark and I had my reputation from the fancy-dancer Rudy fight to thank for it.

I may have done things worse in my life than jerk that chair out from under Mark Watson, but none that ever made me feel smaller or where I learned more.

New chapters coming once each week — Full book thus far under THE MIRACLE OF ME / autobiography of a nobody

Richard Kimball — Vote Smart Founder

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If you want to scare the hell out of a child and assure stunted emotional development and a twisted perception of the world, send them to a 1950s nun at St. Ambrose for an education. More specifically, send them to Holy Sister Mary Margaret.

She is probably dead now, and the children of the world are better for it. Should I think her still alive I would have a moral duty to seek her out, rip out her tongue and stitch her mouth closed forever. In the 1950’s, she and her ilk could cause serious damage to any child true to the faith.

Religious instruction was not a matter of faith to a child at St Ambrose, it was fact. Front and center in a child’s mind and training was not God or Christ but the “everlasting fires of Hell,” where, as Sister Mary Margaret put it, “your flesh would be consumed by fire, yet continually be reborn so that you would suffer the unimaginable agony of your flesh burning for all of eternity.” God’s desire was to get you to Heaven through your fear of Hell.

According to the good sister the great joy of getting to Heaven was not to be found in mounds of candy bars, cookies, cakes, and endless feature cartoons, but the ability to “look upon the face of God.” To a seven-year-old, my age at the time, I simply wondered how someone could possibly look so good that seeing them would beat out a Root Beer Float.

But Holy Sister Mary Margaret had much more to offer, not the least of which was her informing us that it was not necessary to actually commit a sin in order to be guilty of the sin. All you had to do was think of the sin and you were equally guilty. This was very discouraging. Now I was guilty on so many layers of sin that I had no hope of escaping the fiery pits.

It was the stuff that put thinking and believing believers into insane asylums as they aged. At seven years of age, I had not yet come to realize that these nuns torturing children with their unforgiving, cruel nature of God should be imprisoned, if not themselves thrown into that everlasting roaster.

Holy Sister Mary Margaret understood that our minds were too young to comprehend such horror. To remedy this unacceptable situation, she would tell us stories that were sure to reach into our imaginations with lasting effect. One juicy illustration was her telling of the “very real possibility” that our classroom might be broken into by Nazis. Nazis, who would shove us up against the wall and then ask with a gun pressed against our heads, “Are you a Catholic?” The holy Sister Mary Margaret, wanting to tempt an incorrect answer said. “If you deny that you are a Catholic, they will let you live.” But then quickly followed with, “If you love God and admit that you are Catholic, then you will be shot and experience the joy of looking upon the face of God.”

Years later I would remember thinking of all the children she must have tortured with that kind of question, and fanaticized entering her classroom, gun in hand, and offering her that very choice.

However, at seven years old, I hung on every word she said and believed every story that horrid human being told. That was until she told us how God handled the dead guy.

The previous week she had gone through some pains to explain the difference between a Venial Sin and a Mortal one. With Venial Sin (a small sin), God would place you in Purgatory, a place much the same as Hell only with a possibility that at some future time, after you experience adequate flesh burning you would be given a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free-Card. However, Mortal Sin was a sin so egregious that you roasted for all eternity in the real Hell. She just loved telling a little story or two to make certain her little charges could understand.

All her stories kept us in frozen attention, but the story about the dead guy stands alone and still rots away in my brain.

The following, minus modest changes, since I cannot remember each word precisely, is a fair if not precise representation of Sister Mary Margaret’s example for Thou Shall Not Kill:

“A long, long time ago there was a man suffering from a very strange disease causing him to fall into a deep, deep sleep where his heart quieted to a soft undetectable murmur. The people thought he was dead. They dug a deep six-foot hole, took his body, and placed it in the tight confines of a coffin and nailed down the lid. They lowered the coffin into the pit and filled it over with dirt.

Sometime later the poor, sick man woke up in the darkness. Alone and unable to move in the black tightness of his coffin, the man realized his predicament, was terrified and began to scream. But in the blackness, six feet under the ground he knew no one could hear his cries for help. Unable to withstand the horror of it, the man drove the forefingers of his hands into the temples of his head to kill himself. Even he, today, is burning in the everlasting fires of Hell.”

That night when I went to bed I could not sleep. I was tired but every time I started to doze off, I woke with a start. If I slept, I was sure someone would think me dead. Finally, in the wee hours of the night I had an idea. I got up, stumbled over to my desk and switched on the light. Searching around in the drawers I found my drawing book and ripped off a little piece of paper and wrote out a short note. I then quietly crept down the hall to the bathroom where my mother kept the safety pins. A few hours later she came in to wake me up for Sunday church. Pinned to the middle of my pajama shirt, where no one could possibly miss it, was the note: “Pleese do not berry me, not dead.”

You must understand that I believed the Holy Sister Mary Margaret’s story, absolutely. I had not the slightest doubt that was exactly what God did. Only the effect of the story was not what the Holy Sister hoped for. That morning at church, sitting at my mother’s side as she dutifully focused on the word of God, I was staring above the alter where Christ was draped on his cross, thinking, “Asshole!”

Today, I think a kind of God may exist but one that is wholly unlike the insanely narcissistic jackass preached by so many religions.

My best guess is if there is a God, it is far beyond any lowly human’s ability to comprehend its existence and would clearly be powerful enough to talk to me directly, without need of some self-anointed human middleman. The same middlemen so galactically arrogant to presume to speak in God’s name that billions pay homage to and fund their nonsense.

If there is a God, and I hope there is, he already knows how to and actually does speak to me directly through the guilt, shame, pain, and pleasures I feel with my every intention and action I take.

And what is this with so much unimaginable, often inconceivable, grotesque agonies that consume the utterly innocence? No God — not yours and not mine — can answer for the unfairness of life, the damnable repugnance of the hulking injustice that puts one existence in the convulsions of death before a single step is had and another’s anointed with a passel of servants to care for their every need.

The line, “God works in mysterious ways,” exposes the poppy cock heart of much religious training for any willing to open their own eyes. What is the mystery in a child who has done nothing, can do nothing, unable to speak, raked with painful cancerous cysts, gasping a final breath in a struggle to whisper, “Please help me mommy?” Every conscious soul on this planet would struggle so to stop such a horror if they could, but the “all-powerful” God of organized religions does not.

The incomprehensible suffering of incalculable numbers of starved, enslaved, diseased, burned, bombed, drowned, murdered, maimed, tortured living things repudiates any notion of, or any need to be humbled before the nonsense of an all-powerful, “loving,” living God. I may have a good life, you may have a good life, and we feel compelled to thank our lucky stars, but we do not represent, nor can we poll the countless, faultless others who never asked to be born and now largely reside amongst the gratefully dead.

Ok, ok, I am just a bit bitter about Sister Mary Margret’s loving God. There is some part of me that hopes I am wrong, that there is an answer that an ignoramus-like human such as myself has no hope of grasping. There is even a part of me that envies friends who have faith in this kind of God. It is clearly desirous: stats show you live longer if you are comforted and smother yourself in such beautiful, irrational, thoughtless delusions of a loving God.

There are few things more uncomfortable than that moment in an argument when you realize you are wrong. Perhaps that moment will come for me when I die, and somehow, magically, miraculously, and thankfully I will be given the power to see that all is right with God’s world. I am just not ready to bet on it. In fact, after an adult life in politics, being God is the only job I feel certain to be better at, or at least fairer, only it never comes up for election.

Richard Kimball — Vote Smart Founder

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First, they took my civics education.

Then they de-funded my school.

Then uneducated, ignorant of democracy and unable to think critically, I was set free and found my faith in what I wanted to believe rather than what I should believe.

Once American education was the envy of all, our student performance second to none, our skill at self-governance a beacon the world over.

The attack on education, truth, and the facts is no accident. The dimmer we become, the more malleable we are.

The only remedy is to sustain at least one source for trusted facts that any citizen can turn to in confidence — facts without interpretation and protected from influence. is exactly that, but requires a people’s will to use it, believe in it, and to support it. A source to which all conservative and liberal citizens can turn in confidence for the facts and the truth that is dependent upon those facts. Without that, we cannot sustain an ability to self-govern successfully.

It can be done, ensuring its integrity with an elected board balanced between the multiple sides on major national issues. Supported without dependence upon self-serving interests and operated by those willing to commit their time and expertise in the national interest and not financial self-gain.

That is what strived to be. As a young man, my boss once said, “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.” Without or an organization very much like it, it is not the meek that shall inherit the earth, but the stupid.

Richard Kimball

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