Wax On, Wax Off…

scales of justice

My brow is furrowed as I type.

There’s something sticking in my craw.

If I was a cat, I might he hacking up a hairball.

I might be a dog eating grass.

I need to get some things off my chest.

Here goes.

Remember in the “Karate Kid” movie when Daniel Laruso (Ralph Machio) was basically tired of being bullied?

Daniel gets jumped by a bunch of toughs and was worked over pretty good before  Keusuke “Mr. Miyagi” (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita)  comes to his rescue and put the bullies in their place, using karate.

Daniel sees this and winds up asking Mr. Miyagi to teach him martial arts.

He wants to be able to settle the score with these guys.

He eventually does in a karate tournament.

He even gets the girl.

But before he can cross the finish line, he has to train.

Mr. Miyagi gets Daniel to do some chores like waxing his collection of vehicles.

It’s not long before the impetuous Daniel thinks he’s getting roped into doing “busy work” for Mr. Miyagi.

Besides, his arms and shoulders ache from all the “wax on, wax off” repetition.

So Mr. Miyagi shows Daniel how this “waxing” has actually honed his defensive skills.

Valuable lesson time for “Daniel-son”.

Now, turn the clock back to March of 1857.

Am I serious?

Please hear me out.

In a 7-2 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court voted against Dred Scott who had attempted to sue for his freedom after being taken by his owners to free states and territories.

Dred Scott v Sanford or the Dred Scott Case was one of the most-controversial events preceding our Civil War.

It wasn’t until the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1868 that the Dred Scott decision was overturned, granting citizenship to ALL people born in the United States.

From my vantage point here in the 21st century, many of the issues surrounding the Dred Scott Case astound me.

The concept of slavery and people “owning” other people is totally foreign to the way I was taught and raised.

Yet, here was the highest court in the land decreeing that certain individuals in this country were not American citizens and did not have those same rights.

But 11 years later, the matter was addressed and a wrong was righted.

Which leads me to this quote from Walter Van Tilburg Clark, an American novelist who penned “The Ox-Bow Incident”.

Clark is quoted as saying, “We desire justice and justice has never been obtained in haste and strong feeling”.

Is he saying, “not so fast, my friend”?

Maybe so.

I read that to mean when you’re fired up about something, it’s likely you won’t make the right choice.

The next quote is from my favorite  quipster, “Unknown”, who said “Anyone who doesn’t think there are two sides to an argument is probably in one”.

Profound, huh?,

So how come I told you about the “Karate Kid” as a lead-in to the Dred Scott Case before I hitched my wagon to “The Ox-Bow Incident”?

There are many things going on in this nation today that have a lot of people on edge.

Today, cooler heads don’t seem to be prevailing from sea to shining sea.

But I’m going to be so bold as to suggest that  we’re in the Mr. Miyagi “Wax on, wax off” mode of what will eventually lead to us mastering the ultimate goal.

Today, we’re so busy “waxing” that we’ve lost sight of what we want/need to achieve.

In the heat of the moment, we don’t always think clearly.

Nelson Algren offered this gem.

Things to avoid.

Never play cards with a man called Doc.

Never eat at a place called Mom’s.

Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse that your own.

Might I ad, “You can’t play ‘Final Jeopardy’ before you’ve looked at all the categories”.

You see, back in 1857 Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney thought the Dred Scott Case ruling would clear up all the issues with slavery.


As it turned, we had to endure the Civil War, receive the Emancipation Proclamation and then get the 14th Amendment to the U-S Constitution ratified.

It took more than 11 years.

There are some who believe that our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, was predestined to lead this country through what was arguably our bleakest time as a nation.

So, when years ago, Mr. Lincoln said, “The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both congress and courts. Not to overthrow the constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the constitution,” that makes me think.

I think Mr Lincoln was saying the Constitution works but sometimes we people foul things up.

Today, we have very little patience.

This is the land of fast food, drive up this, drive in that, order on-line, Google it.

We don’t like waiting.

Journalist James Reston said, “It’s good to be first, but it’s best to be right”.

History would indicate that as a nation, we’re pretty good at that.

Not perfect by any stretch but still the best game in town.

Winston Churchill said, “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities”.

So, “Wax on, wax off” my fellow Americans.


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