Irregulars Among Us

My column today is dedicated to a class of people with whom we are all familiar. They are a very unique type who exist among us in our families, schools, jobs, churches, and every aspect of our culture. I venture to say that all of us have had some dealings or interactions with people who we thought or considered somewhat strange or weird in their character, demeanor, and even methodology. Many of these people, who I come to regard as irregulars, were unfairly and wrongly labeled as fanatic, eccentric, and even crazy simply because they did not fit the mold of what we consider normal or ordinary. In order to be accepted by regular folk, many of these irregulars would hide or completely alter or abandon the attributes, abilities, and gifts that were innate to their nature from conception. Some of you would be surprised of the many irregulars in history who helped to shape our civilization and culture. We owe these strange people a debt of gratitude for the many discoveries, inventions, and ideas that came from them without which we would all be living in the dark ages of ignorance, superstition, paganism, and grappling to survive as a species, due to some malady that threatened to make us extinct.
Every profession and field of endeavor that has enriched and enhanced humanity has had irregulars in their rank who made great contributions to the advancement and betterment of mankind. In the field of medicine, there were quite a few people who fit into the category of the irregulars. Certain people like Louis Pasteur, Madame Marie Curie, Jonas Salk, Ernest E. Just, and quite a few others who helped to revolutionize the medical profession through their trailblazing discoveries were irregulars who thought out of the box of regular scientific thought and methodology. Can anyone dispute the fact that inventors and physicists like Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, George Washington Carver, and a host of others, whose discoveries and inventions laid the scientific foundation upon which our very sophisticated and high tech culture rests, were irregulars and deemed somewhat eccentric by their contemporaries? Every serious student of literature is perhaps aware that many of the giants in this field, like Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Stephen King, and Stan Lee (one of my favorites) were and are just a little eccentric and irregular. Even some of our most renowned statesman and politicians, who were foundational and crucial to the establishing and developing of our nation, must be posthumously set in the category of the irregulars due to their antics and demeanor. Men like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and of course, Abraham Lincoln were considered as being irregular by many of their contemporaries. Abraham Lincoln (when he first arrived in Washington as the sixteenth president of the United States) was labeled by most of the political elites as being very crude, naïve, incompetent, and ill-equipped to be the Commander-in-Chief. Most in his party and cabinet thought that he was so irregular and out of place that he would not survive his first term in office. Of course, history proves that this irregular politician, who many pundits of his time thought was too unsophisticated and back-woodsy to be an effective President, was arguably our greatest occupant of the Oval Office. The historical fabric of our nation is laced with many irregulars in every profession and pursuit who played essential roles in helping to make America the greatest nation on the face of the earth. In the field of soldiering, men like George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, William (Bull) Halsey, and many other brave and heroic men were clearly irregulars who led our armed forces to victory in the various wars that won our freedom and preserved our Union. In corporate America, there were many irregulars who helped to forge the economy and wealth of our nation.
Men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller (who dared to deviate from the norm and operate out of the box) typified the class of irregulars who helped to make America the richest nation on the face of the earth. Can anyone deny that the tech Revolution that has thrust mankind forward by leaps and bounds into the digital world and cyberspace was not pioneered by irregulars who thought out of the box like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and a few others. Right here in our locale, the founding and progression of our county and city was brought about by a few irregulars like James W. Dillon, A.B. Jordan, Alan Schafer, and a few others with foresight and courage. Certainly, some of their contemporaries thought these pioneers to be a little risky and naïve to dare do what none had done before and venture into unchartered territory where none had gone before.
I am going to close my column today by considering a fellow I have known for a very long time, who is a proven irregular and has been one practically all of his life. I well remember him as a child when he would be in a corner or spot playing with little sticks and matches that he pretended were soldiers. I can vividly remember him looking up into the sky and counting the birds or looking at the highway watching every car that passed by while his mother would scold and threaten to whip him, if he would not stop daydreaming and start picking cotton. Being in the same grade and class at school, I remember seeing (when I would be the one to check his paper) doodling and drawings of airplanes, people, soldiers, monsters, and other strange sketches. I have kept a close watch on him, even as he has matured into an adult with much responsibility and the care of many lives under his oversight. He is today just as strange and perhaps even somewhat eccentric as he was when he was a little boy growing up in Newtown and attending Gordon Elementary School.
The irregular boy who could never dance, loved playing by himself, and living in the world of his vivid imagination has become an irregular man with virtually the same antics, demeanor, and idiosyncrasies. That very peculiar, strange, and irregular man is me.

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