The Hand-Wringing Society of America

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Hand-Wringing Society of America (HWSA) is one of America’s most important organizations.

It is growing by leaps and bounds.

You say you never heard of such a society? Not only does it exist, I’m thinking about becoming a member. What would I wring my hands about? The fact that so many people are wringing their hands!

Email newsletter signup

For instance, haven’t you heard and seen all the wringing of hands over the fact that so many people in America are growing more obese every day? I would have said the f-word (fatter) but that would have been politically incorrect. We’re not getting fatter; we just ought to be getting taller.

Before I go any further, let me explain what wringing the hands means. It’s an idiom, of course, and not to be confused with the idiots who happen to be members of the august body. Don’t forget, I said I was thinking about becoming a member.

Wringing is that action that extracts liquid from cloth, as in “wring out that rag or mop.” If you’re from the south, you may be more familiar with wrench. Wrench is a broader term, however, that could even go so far as to mean the pouring of the liquid over a surface.

“ ‘Scuse me while I wrench off this table.”

Back to wringing or the extraction of liquid from a cloth. The action that is called for is a twisting or squeezing. It only takes a little imagination to understand that one who is wringing his or her hands is rubbing them together, twisting or squeezing them.

The question might come: why would anyone wring their hands? I looked it up in the Dictionary for Idiots, uh I mean Idioms. One wrings his hands when there is anxiety over a situation. Mind you, he doesn’t do anything about the situation, he simply wrings his hands.

Our country is full of HWSA members. I have already mentioned those who are wringing their hands over the obesity problem. These are highly educated people, too. They figure that something in our society is causing our young and old to suddenly become larger than they should be.

They even want to involve Uncle Sam in the hand wringing. I forgot to say that to be a card-carrying member of the HWSA, one has to be able to ignore or set aside personal responsibility. If personal responsibility were allowed, there would be no reason to wring hands. In the HWSA, there is always someone to blame.

The HWSA is lobbying the Washington folks about proposing a tax on those things that might be leading to the obesity problem. Things like soda pop and Twinkies. They feel that Uncle Sam or Big Brother or our National Nanny ought to get involved and help us to cut back on such horrible things like Co-colas. They might put an extra tax on those kinds of temptations or even make it unlawful for schools to have them in their cafeterias.

If they are successful in doing such, I may re-think my decision to become a member. I happen to like Co-colas and Twinkies and feel toward them as the late Charlton Heston felt about his guns.

Remember when, as president of the National Rifle Association, Heston made a speech about the Second Amendment right to bear arms. It was quite a bumper sticker slogan he created when he said that anyone could have his gun “when he would pry it from his cold, dead hand.”

That’s pretty dramatic language, but messing with my Co-cola might cause me to say, “You can have my Co-cola when you pry that six-ounce, aqua-green bottle from my cold, dead fat hand!” And don’t even think about my Snicker.

I hope that the HWSA doesn’t get its way when it comes to the soft drink and candy tax. I also would like to see it challenged on other questions.

For instance, the HWSA is singing the song that if we don’t reform our current system of health care we, as a country, will be bankrupted by the current system. I’ve got news for them. We don’t even have enough money to pay attention to bankruptcy. Plus, I’m not sure what has been touted as reform is actually an improvement.

Some people are wringing their hands over the deficit and others are saying that spending more is the answer. Instead of wringing someone’s hands, I’m about ready to wring someone’s neck!

The HWSA is just as unclear in other areas of concern. Are we in the midst of global warming or climate change? Are we getting warmer or cooler? There are scientists on both sides of the question. It depends on what news channel you watch as to what the answer is.

There is the saying that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Wringing hands might not be idle but they’re not exactly working either.

The Rev. Lynn Roberts is pastor of the Sutton Chapel United Methodist Church, located on Vada Highway.