By Dr. Jim Ferguson

Some weeks it’s harder than others to write this column. This week’s essay is the four hundred and ninth essay I’ve written for The Focus, each with an average of 1000 words. Do the math; this calculates to four hundred and nine thousand words over the last eight years. Perhaps I’ve said enough. Some illiberals have written to me and said I should shut up. Nah! You know you’re doing some good when you make ‘em holler with indignation. After all, if you pull the tail of a donkey it brays.

In the summer of 2001 a friend of mine challenged me to begin spiritual journaling. I resisted, stating that the only writing I had ever done was for assignments in high school and college. He told me I should just try spiritual journaling; so I did and it changed my life. After all, how do you know whether you like brussels sprouts unless you try them. I’ve tried them multiple ways and I find them to be a “vile weed,” if I may quote Newman on Seinfeld.

Years ago my daughter gave me the aphorism from her fortune-cookie. The pithy message in the bland cookie read, “Start writing and the answers will come.” Succinctly, this fortune-cookie perspective embodied a long standing philosophy of mine. I’ve often advised patients to write out their feelings. Stressful situations can sometimes paralyze people, and organizing your feelings on paper or verbalizing your fears through prayer or with a trusted friend is often liberating. Have you ever noticed that you feel better after vomiting? This may seem crude, but by analogy, praying or spiritual journalizing seems to work as a cathartic for the psyche. Freud would agree.

Lately, I’ve been considering all the years I’ve been writing for The Focus. I write because this creative process gives me joy. However, recently I remarked to my wife that I had written more than 400,000 words for The Focus. And as I got to thinking about my past essays in the News Sentinel and the Tennessee Medical Association Journal, as well as my spiritual writing of the last fifteen years, I concluded that I’ve written more than a million and a half words. Undoubtedly,  more words than I’ve spoken in the same period.

Words are just the tools we use to communicate with each other, and can be written or spoken. We also use body language to communicate, as well as the tone and inflection in our voices to modify those spoken words. There’s a lot of vitriol these days in the body politic. However, if you think Trump’s verbiage is rough, you should research the vulgarism of the election of 1799-1800 between the Federalist, John Adams and the Democratic-Republican, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson founded his Democratic-Republican party largely in opposition to Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist policies of a strong central government. Those “Democrats” were sympathetic to the Republican movement in France which later produced the Reign of Terror and the guillotine. Jefferson’s new party later dropped the Republican moniker just as our modern Democrats have dropped the notion of a democratic election of their presidential standard bearer.

Changing the subject, have you noticed that the redbuds are exceptional this year? I’m an “S” on the Myers-Briggs personality typology, and I notice things. Perhaps this is why I’m an internist. Sometimes I wonder if I just previously overlooked something, but experience has taught me to trust my instincts when I notice differences or changing patterns, and this year is an exceptional year for the redbud beauties of spring. Like crocus, Lenten Roses and daffodils, redbuds herald spring which I so appreciate. Also, seemingly unusual this spring was a virtual sea of flowering white pear trees which appeared even before the redbuds. I recently learned that Bradford pear trees, which were so popular fifteen years ago, are now threatening native species such as crab apple, flowering cherry, dogwoods and redbuds.  I also recently learned that the Tennessee Senate passed the Direct Patient Care provision number 2448. This bill allows Tennesseans to contract directly with doctors for their primary care. It is comforting to this concierge physician that The Healthcare Empowerment Act removes any roadblocks to the care arrangement I’ve had with my patients for the last two years.

Our American republic is a form of government predicated on the rule of law. We elect representatives who supposedly act for us in local, state and national government. Our Legislators write rules/laws with words which we all agree to abide by. But what happens if they don’t obey the rule of law such as the Constitution? We have seen what happens when the (Washington) executive branch of the government  ignores the rule of law, the will of the people and renders the legislative branch of the government almost meaningless. And what if we citizens refuse to obey the law? The rule of the jungle, the hood or the cartel results, and there aren’t enough police or national guard troops in the country who can protect us.

It is time to return to the rule of law and the Constitution, constructed with words and meaning. It it time for We The People to again rule ourselves.