Life is hard, but its harder when you’re stupid.

George V. Higgins, in The Friends of Eddie Coyle

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Look, this is the sort of thing that you learn in the streets.

I know this because I, too, learned it in the streets – absorbed life all around me, ate it up as a means for survival, a path to good judgment, wisdom, freedom, independence, lasting friendships, loyalty, passionate love and contentment.

In diving into life you find faith and run into God.  Shall we say “an added benefit.”

Most people never have my experience, Higgins’ experience – one steeped in poverty, and garnered with violence – an ample addition of murder for emphasis.

Higgins was a Boston Irish lawyer who knew the city, its power structure, its traits, its character, its people, its history, its culture, its dark and shiny parts, its guiding images and the Irish.

He knew this well enough to tell a good story the way the Celts are so able, one that you wanted to hear, even hear again, and that you learned from and never forgot.

He knew who he was, and who you were.

He wrote with insight and showed you how you were living.  He connected the dots and read between the lines.  He was nobody’s fool.

Like all street smart people, he saw better than others.  He saw things before they happened because he lived the entire event of his locality and its people.

Smart.  As we say in Boston: “wicked smart.”

We’re talking savvy, cunning, clever, real world stuff – not surface stuff. He was a subterranean guy, a guy who bore down into the soul of a place and its people.

Oh, how we need this in our land today – on a national level … 

We are in a very tough place.  We are way beyond policy debates – this tax code vs. that tax code, the triviality of transgender politics or “global warming.”

No, we are at risk of losing our land and what it was, and who we have been.

Our culture is at risk.  Power has shifted to a political few – the unwise, and amassed in a sprawling, too big, too involved, incompetent federal apparatus.

We are led astray by flawed ideology.  We have lost our way.  No one sees like Higgins saw.

The leadership we need must show us it sees the mess we are in, knows us in-depth.

That person must be likable, create trust, have the capacity to be believed, have the words and way that amuse us, teach us, make us reckon with the crap we face and know that we will kick-start this great land and run over anyone who impedes our progress, dares to threaten us.

We need wicked smart.

Shalom.

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