Missy’s had a new friend hanging around the house lately.
She met him at Kohl’s and it was love at first sight. Now he seems to go everywhere with her. He’s even sat in our evening story times, and since he’s the quiet-spoken sort, it doesn’t disrupt anything. Besides, I love his shirt.
Yep. It’s easily the cutest Charlie Brown doll I have ever seen.
I’m not quite sure why Missy latched on to ol’ Chuck. I suspect the small size and bald head give it a “baby” appearance to her and she’s always been fascinated by babies. When our now-3-year-old niece Riley visits, there’s been several times when the toddler girl and the developmentally-disabled woman seem to have a perfect understanding of each other. Before the fights over the Legos begin, anyway.
But whatever the reason, I’m glad to have him around. Charlie Brown has always been a favorite of mine, the unlikeliest American celebrity of all.
Think about it.
America celebrates winners. Charlie Brown has never kicked a football, won a baseball game or flown a kite without disaster.
America encourages busyness, even hyperactivity. Charlie Brown always has time to lean on a brick wall and talk with a friend.
America urges people to get more, bigger, brighter, better. Charlie Brown rolls his eyes at over-decorated doghouses and aluminum Christmas trees, and picks out a scrawny branch that needs a little love.
He’s not a success. What’s more, he knows it. When he asks into the silent night “Why me?”, the answer he hears is “Nothing personal … your name just happened to come up.”
And yet, if you were to set him alongside most of the nation’s leaders right now – maybe all of them – the little round-headed kid with the rickrack shirt would be the first choice in a heartbeat.
OK, that’s not quite a fair comparison. After all, many things are outpolling the Congress right now, including the IRS, venereal disease and possibly the Oakland Raiders, though that’s stooping a bit low. But still, there’s something about the ol’ blockhead.
Sure, he dodges confrontations and hides from the little red-haired girl. Yes, he gets depressed and frustrated. And everyone knows he was overshadowed by his dog long ago in almost every possible area of accomplishment.
But … well … he’s decent. Courteous. Fair, even when it costs him. He sticks by his friends, even giving up a Little League sponsorship when it means the girls and Snoopy would have to leave the team.
He’s the guy you’d never put in the Hall of Fame – but you’d love to put him in the house next door.
And I think we’ve lost some of that.
Oh, not at the local level. Not entirely. If anything proved that, the flood did, with good neighbors lining up to work in the muck and mud to help someone else. No pride on the line, just an awareness of someone else’s need.
But at the national level, where expensive temper tantrums can erupt for weeks and change nothing by the end … well, wouldn’t it be nice, once in a while, to have folks who were less sure of themselves?
I’m not arguing that confidence is a bad thing. But it’s not the only thing, either. When Rome celebrated its heroes with a triumphal procession, someone was always assigned to whisper in the hero’s ear “Remember, you, too are mortal.” Humility, in the midst of pride.
Even one of the most self-assured dictators of history, Oliver Cromwell, recognized the need. In a 1560 letter to the Church of Scotland, he wrote “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider that you may be mistaken.”
That doesn’t fit modern Washington, where you never apologize (except when caught in an affair), never back down, never admit the other guy might have a point.
And, lately, never get any work done.
Maybe that’s something to remember next year, come November. The confident men and women with all the answers make attractive candidates – but the less certain ones, the ones willing to ask questions, even of themselves, may make better leaders.
And it doesn’t have to be a costly experience.
I even know one guy who did it for Peanuts.