One Man’s Ceiling

After last night’s abundance of music (John Prine on Austin City Limits and Paul Simon on SNL) I had a hard time deciding about this morning’s selection for my daily hot tea and vinyl. I went with Mr. Simon and all the way back to “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon,” which was recorded at Muscle Shoals, a legendary place that transcended societal convention and produced some mighty fine music. I ended up on side one.

The side ends with “One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor,” which is ostensibly about living in an apartment building and minding your own business, but made me think of the increasingly dire warnings about the damage we’re doing to our home in the name of short-term gains. It is our great fortune that laws (and governments in general) are primarily concerned with setting a standard below which we cannot go. No government rules tell us that we can’t do more than the minimum, only that we can’t do less.  We have to pay workers minimum wage, for example, but we’re not required to only pay that. We can do better if we choose. Just because we can dump trash in our rivers doesn’t mean that we are required to, and so on. Unfortunately, at present our capital and other houses of government are filled with “accomplished professionals” who spend an inordinate amount of time either insinuating or openly accusing each other of behavior that is at best unethical and possibly illegal. Frankly, it’s embarrassing; it’s like a limbo contest.

Governments set the lowest bar. 

We are not required to limit ourselves to that.

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A career working with teenagers on the fringes of society has made me both sensitive to and appreciative of the complexities of character and the struggles, inner and outer, that we all wrestle with in one form or another. My writing emphasizes character development over action, and, as a lifelong Southerner, the rhythms and cadence of the Southeastern United States influence both my spoken and written voice.

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