“I haven’t seen Iowans this excited since the night Frank Gotch and Strangler Lewis lay on a mat for three and a half hours without moving a muscle. Ooh! That was exciting!” The bumbling Mayor Shinn of River City delivers those incomprehensible words in “The Music Man”, a musical comedy I first saw some thirty years ago. I still don’t fully understand the statement. In the same breath, the old fellow described the most boring event I could imagine and then, still talking about the same yawn-inspiring wrestling match, calls it exciting. Talk about a non-sequitur!
What’s that? Oh yes. I see that hand back there…what is a “non-sequitur”? Okay, let me give this a shot. The word “sequitur” is from a Latin word, meaning “it follows” (as in a sequence). Sequitur is used to mean that one idea leads into the next. The addition of the negative “non” ahead of the word, simply means that the statement isn’t logical, since one does not automatically follow the other. If I were to say, “I hated the food at that restaurant. I can’t wait to eat there again,” you would call it a non-sequitur.
I can’t imagine a more unprofitable way to spend an evening than watching two grown men lying on a wrestling mat, entangled in each other’s limbs, not moving. It might almost be worse than a scoreless baseball game which is entering the fourteenth inning. Not what I would describe as a spell-binder. Certainly, if I were watching either event on television today, I would click the remote to move to a more engaging program.
And now, realizing that one would likewise not use the word “exciting” to describe this blog to this point, I’ll move on rather than wrestling with the words any further. But, now that I’m sure you understand the term, I do want to mention a seeming non-sequitur which occurred earlier today in an encounter with my son-in-law.
I had an argument with the man. I couldn’t be happier. Normally, it would not please anyone for me to argue with my son-in-law, especially my daughter. But I am, as they say, tickled pink. It was simply a joy to me that we had the disagreement.
I can see the confusion written on your forehead right about now. If you follow my posts regularly, you will remember that I have foresworn arguing. Realizing that I often get carried away and cause pain, I am shunning the practice of verbal disputes to the best of my ability. This particular non-sequitur is almost disturbing, isn’t it? Okay–I’ll put you out of your misery and explain.
His phone rang right after lunch today. As I heard his side of the conversation, it was clear that someone needed assistance. After concluding the call, he simply asked me if I had a car jack he could borrow. I did, but I offered to come along with my floor jack to help, if I could, not knowing the people he was aiding at all. It turned out to be a young couple whom he had assisted before, and probably will again. One thing led to another, as they seem to do, and before we knew it, we were arguing about who was going to purchase a new tire for the couple. Oh, it wasn’t a violent, nor a combative discussion; each of us simply wanted to be the one to help.
The fact that this young man loves to help folks who are in need is not news to me. We have had many previous discussions about the ways in which he does this daily in his business and personal life. It’s just that I enjoyed actually being a part of the process today. We argued and I couldn’t be happier.
Who won the argument? We both did. Oh, just one of us purchased the tire, but we both won, because the young couple now has a working vehicle, so the man can go to work this week. They are struggling, but he istrying. It doesn’t matter who spent the money to help. The desire itself indicates the willingness to fulfill the basic instructions of our Lord. “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy, and to the poor in your land.”
Why am I especially happy to see my son-in-law with such a solid grasp on this precept? First, I am pleased that my daughter is blessed to be the wife of a man who seeks to live uprightly. Second, it virtually guarantees that the understanding of our responsibility to serve is going to be passed on to my grandchildren. And, I see very few things of more importance than passing on our faith and the practice thereof to the generations which come after us. I’m pretty sure that the youngsters can hardly miss out on this lesson.
Non-sequiturs aren’t always bad. Being a logical thinker in most areas, however, I’ll probably continue to work at keeping them to a minimum. I certainly won’t be describing long wresting matches, in which no one moves, as “exciting”. And I know that arguments which lead to both sides winning are few and far between, but I’ll savor this one for awhile.
I guess you might say that sometimes, iron does sharpen iron.
Perhaps we’ll argue again. I’d like that.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
“Logic is a systemic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.”
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2012. All Rights Reserved.