An American fable (2016)

Once upon a time, in America, there was a man who owned a home.

He loved his home, deeply. Just the way most Americans love their country.

His home was full of wonderful memories, all the way back to his childhood. He hoped to stay there as long as God let him live.

He knew his beloved home needed major repairs. But he had hired a couple of repair people, and they just hadn’t done the job right.

One morning, an enormous truck pulled up in front of his home, with an enormous five-letter name painted on the side. Someone climbed out and strode up to his front door.

The man was big, and seemed full of confidence. As the homeowner opened his door, he thought he might’ve seen his visitor before, on television.

“All those other repairmen are idiots,” his visitor bellowed. “I’m going to make your home great again. I know exactly what to do. First, I’m going to blow it up.”

The homeowner thought to himself, “Well, I didn’t really think my home needed to be blown up. But it certainly has problems. And I’ve definitely had trouble getting them fixed. Let’s see what this man has to say…”

So, the homeowner asked: “After you blow it up, what kind of new home will you build for me?”

And his visitor said: “Don’t you worry about that. It’ll be great. The best ever. It’ll be huge! With great big walls that someone else will pay for. You’ll be a winner, just like me!”

The homeowner thought to himself, “It sure would be nice to have a great home like that.”

So the homeowner asked, “Have you ever built such a wonderful home for anyone else before?”

And his visitor said, “Don’t you worry about that, either. I’ll get the best people. I’ll make the best deals. It’ll be great.”

The homeowner thought to himself, “I’m just not sure. But this is tempting…”

So, he asked his visitor, “Well, what have you built?”

“Well, I built a big casino in Atlantic City.”

“That’s pretty amazing. Can I visit it?”

“I don’t own it anymore. It went bankrupt.”

“I guess things don’t always turn out the way we want them to,” the homeowner said. “What else have you built?”

“I built a university.”

“Great! How’s that doing?”

“All those people who are suing me are really bad people.”

The homeowner thought about how much he loved the home he’d lived in nearly all his life. He was a child when it was built. But he still remembered the people who’d built it.

They were all kinds of different people. But they seemed to respect each other. They were quiet, not flashy. He couldn’t imagine them on Reality TV.

But they had built his family a home with a strong foundation.

For all its problems, his home still had that foundation. It was still pretty strong.

Would this stranger build him a home like that? One he would be proud to pass along to his children, and maybe someday their children?

He just wasn’t convinced.

So, he told the stranger: “I will have to pass on your generous offer. Perhaps someone else will let you blow up their home.”

The stranger got angry. “I knew I shouldn’t have wasted my time on you.” Before he turned to leave, he spat out: “You loser.”

And the homeowner said to himself, “I do still need to get my home fixed. But I think I just avoided an even bigger problem.”

 

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