8:01 P.M., Panama City, Florida—Donald Trump is in town. My wife and I are in a nearby barbecue joint. There are so many cars in this city, my pork tastes like exhaust.
Twenty-one thousand folks of every shape and size are here. Old ladies in red caps, dogs in flag-sweaters, elderly men with patriotic koozies. Cops, teachers, Girl Scouts.
The woman in the booth next to us asks, “Y’all going to the rally?”
“No ma’am,” I say. “We prefer NASCAR to dirt tracks.”
The truth is, you won’t meet anyone less political than me. I did not grow up playing the sport.
The most political event I’ve attended was a livestock auction. Bill Branner was running for reelection. He passed out paper fans with the words: “Be a fan for Brann’” printed on them.
That night, every cow pie in three counties had fans poking from the tops.
Look, I don’t have anything against politicians—red, blue, or polka-dot. My problem is with the human race. People are selfish and mean. And I’m not talking about candidates. I’m talking about us.
Consider Tyler, whose mother just died, whose father just went to jail for child pornography. Where’s Tyler going to spend Christmas? Doesn’t anyone care about him?
What about Anne? Her daughter got raped, killed, and stuffed in a trunk. Or: Rena—going through chemo, ashamed of how puffy and bald she looks. These are the ones I’m interested in.
Life is no picnic. We have terrorists, cyber-wars, mutating bacteria, and deadly mosquitoes. And if they don’t get you, teenagers who dress up like killer clowns from Hell will.
As it happens, my grandaddy often told a story about Hell.
“Hell ain’t what you think,” he’d say. “Ain’t no flames, dragons, or pitchforks. Hell is one big feast—with biscuits, ribs, creamed corn, butter beans, cheese grits, pulled pork…”
Bear with me here.
“Thing is,” he’d go on. “People in Hell can’t eat because their arms don’t bend. No matter how they try, they can’t get food to their mouths.”
Well, I have experience in this department. I once broke my arm at ball practice and had to wear a cast. Try eating drumsticks with your humerus in cement. I lost two pant-sizes.
“Up Yonder,” Grandaddy would say. “They have the same problems as in Hell. Same table with food, same stiff arms.”
“But,” I’d point out. “If that’s how Heaven is, why would anyone ever want to go there?”
“‘Cause,” he’d say. “People in Heaven feed each other.”
What I mean to say is: I don’t give a damn who you vote for. But if you really want to change the world…
Go love somebody.