News travels fast in a small town. Last year I made the decision to run for one of the open seats on the city council. It wasn’t really my first foray into politics, but it is the first time I have held an office with any significant impact. I thought about it a great deal, I talked with my family and with Brett and decided to do it.
I gathered the requisite number of signatures and turned in my petition to be included on the November 2013 ballot. I honestly don’t remember the exact date, but the very next day I got a phone call from Moon Wheeler. It seems Ann was in the courthouse the day before and saw me turn in my petition.
Moon said “Kurtis, this is Moon and I would like to talk to you. When is a good time for you to come up to the house?”
We made arrangements for me to visit the following Tuesday.
Growing up, Moon was just the old guy at Rockland Pharmacy with a friendly laugh, but as an adult Moon was a mentor.
We talked about a lot of things that Tuesday afternoon. Two things stuck with me. The first was the start of the conversation.
Moon jumped right in by saying “those who do not get involved in politics are destined to be governed by their inferiors.”
It is a paraphrasing of a quote by the Greek philosopher Plato.
“This is a topic of great concern that is over 3,000 years old,” Moon commented.
The second point he made was a cautionary point.
“Love the people more than you love the position,” he said while gazing at a tree in his back yard.
Moon did not give up after that first conversation last year. He would call me or stop by the office before getting his weekly haircut to offer me his perspective on a current issue that was concerning him or to straighten me out when I would write a column that missed the mark.
“You over-simplified that too much,” he said about a column I wrote last year sometime.
Two weeks ago I was writing two columns because I had two ideas at the same time, an unusual occurrence, both had similar themes and so I wrote them both and set them up to be printed in successive weeks.
As I wrote the second column, Apropos, The Truth About Young Voters, Power County Press Wednesday, July 9, I had one non-related, but persistent thought as I wrote that column “Moon is going to love this or I am going to get a phone call.”
It is fairly obvious I will not be getting a phone call.
I did not get a chance to say thank you to Moon for the help and guidance. I always thanked him and Ann for their time, but somehow it doesn’t seem like enough.
As I sat in St. Mary’s on Thursday, July 10, I realized the phrase is often overused to the point of being trite, but for one of only a handful of times in my life, I actually understood what it means to be privileged to know someone.
Knowing Ralph M. “Moon” Wheeler is truly my privilege.