“This is not the time to jump to some conclusion”—Paul Ryan, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, responding to calls for stricter gun laws after 17 people were murdered at a South Florida high school.
Though essential to protecting our democracy, activism is time consuming.
I’ve told you about my affiliation with Making Acronyms Great Again (MAGA) and its decision that TWIT most suited Donald Trump. Now comes this.
As Delayer in Chief (DIC), it was my duty recently to chair the bi-annual meeting of the influential special interest group This Is Not the Time (TINT).
The meeting had been put off again and again, hard core members refusing to attend in the belief that to meet was premature. As one of them insisted, “This is never the time.”
TINT’s moderate wing argued that this strict interpretation of our mandate was carrying things too far, and I agreed. “Now look,” I said in a text defining the conundrum before us, “as your DIC, I appreciate that having a meeting exposes TINT to the risk of achieving something, but never meeting exposes us to the danger of irrelevance.
Following a rigorous back and forth, the other side was won over, agreeing to participate in a meeting when I arranged a compromise, promising that items of substance would be deferred and forgotten.
The meeting turned out to be pivotal.
Adhering to principle, the first item on the agenda was shelved by acclamation. The next item of business could not be addressed because it was unidentified. The agenda committee felt assigning it a name or category would serve no purpose because it never would be taken up.
Next came a discussion of our closely watched Person of the Year award, with the name of the winner to be inscribed on a trophy. “DIC’s prerogative,” I said, “my choice is Paul Ryan for advocating creative solutions to gun violence in schools, starting with arming teachers and having them wear bandoliers of ammunition.”
The applause was thundering.
“Objection, objection!” someone shouted when it died down. “We all agree this is an honor the speaker deserves. But the bigger honor—celebrating his zealous devotion to postponement even more acutely—would be to not honor him.”
“Exactly,” someone added. “Because this is not the time to honor him.”
“Hear, hear,” a chorus shouted in unison.
I added my endorsement. “And actually, there is no trophy because I felt there would be time to pick up one at a later date.”
Noting that we’d attained our goal of pointlessness, I was about to gavel the proceeding to a close when someone stood and shouted, “Item from the floor, item from the floor.”
This was highly unusual, and fraught with peril. The longer we remained in session, the greater the risk of inadvertently doing something worthwhile. But in the spirit of democracy, I decided to allow it.
“All right, go on.”
“I challenge our existence.”
“On what basis?”
“On the basis that in meeting to form TINT—by that very act—the founders violated their underlying premise, in effect annulling what they were founding. In other words, this was not the time to form a group whose predicate for existence was ‘this is not the time.’ Hence, there is no TINT.”
I objected. “I take your point, but as DIC I refuse to preside over the dissolution of this group.”
“There’s nothing to dissolve,” someone interjected, “if we don’t exist.”
He had me there. “I guess there’s nothing left for us to do but go home,” I said sadly. “But I implore you to keep faith and not waver from our credo even as Americans are gunned down in schools and elsewhere:
Timeliness is no virtue.