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I Publius: A conversation with Murray

“Sure enough, maybe because of your prompting, the previous gloom and doom turned to a more optimistic plan. I’m proud of you, Pops. I think you made it happen.” Murray, the world’s smartest dog

I was speaking with Murray, the world’s cutest and smartest dog. He was quite clear that he had a lot on his mind. We are lucky, of course, that he was trained at the Literacy Network of South Berkshire where he learned to speak not only English, but also Spanish.

The little dog said, “You know, dad, I’m pretty proud of you. You wrote a column a few weeks ago when it looked like it was going to take a long, long time to get the Division Street Bridge reopened. You talked about how there are always alternatives to the gloom and doom of public servants and you referenced Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York. He refused to accept the pessimistic views of his bureaucrats that the L train from Brooklyn to Manhattan would be closed for at least a year. Then Cuomo found geniuses who figured out how to avoid the mess that so many New Yorkers would be facing in getting in and out of Manhattan. People breathed a great sigh of relief.

The closed Division Street bridge in Great Barrington, Mass.

“In Great Barrington,” said Murray, “you pointed out that alternatives needed to be explored. There have to be ways to get that bridge opened. Sure enough, maybe because of your prompting, the previous gloom and doom turned to a more optimistic plan. I’m proud of you, Pops. I think you made it happen.”

“You know what, Murray? I met a rich man the other day who said that I was too divisive. Sometimes people with a lot of money think that they are always right. I mentioned the fact that my earlier column may have prompted a second look at how to get and keep the Division Street Bridge open. Sometimes, when you write columns, you have to make points that will alienate those in power. Right, Murray?”

“That’s right, Pop,” said the little dog.

A contemplative Murray.

Then Murray looked up at me and said, “There’s something else on my mind. What about that mess at the Berkshire Museum? They sold all those great Rockwell paintings and people were furious. Apparently, they haven’t gotten over their fury and they seem unwilling to forgive and forget. Now the people who run the Museum are trying to get people to get over it. How do you feel about that, Pop?”

“Well, Murray,” I said, “I get why people are still angry. Someone suggested that there be a reconciliation commission much like the South Africans experienced. That’s an interesting idea but it begs the question of whether or not it would allow the people who run the Museum to get away scot free for their perfidy. Of course, this is NOT the same thing as what happened in South Africa. There, thousands of people were murdered and repressed but thanks to Nelson Mandela, the country came together as well as could have been possibly expected. In the case of the Museum, many people will never get over what happened. I feel bad for the new director but since the Museum was condemned by so many people an d other organizations, the new director certainly should have understood what he was getting into.

“I just can’t understand why the folks at the Museum ignored the fury that so many people were feeling. If the folks who were running the place were so insensitive to their community, maybe they should step aside and let some other folks take over. It seems to me that this is the only way to get the Museum back where it should be.”

So the little dog looked up at me and said, “Maybe it’s time for you to quit, Pops. There are an awful out of people who say very mean things about you. I worry about you.”

“Hey, Murray,” I said to the little dog. “You gotta do what you gotta do.”

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