The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently – Friedrich Nietzsche

I have the distinct pleasure, or misfortune as it may be, of being an acquaintance of an actual card-carrying member of the infamous Bohemian Grove Club.

Telling stories was “Bill’s” favorite thing to do from shooting animals on an African Safari to his travel escapades; he had a story for every occasion, but most of all he loved telling about his trips to Bohemian Grove.

I remember at the time not being overly impressed by the tales he regaled us with; like the “martini machine” or to “running naked” in the redwoods with the likes of Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan, or James Baker. Lest you think I am kidding about the running naked in the redwoods, here is what President Clinton had to say about the Bohemian Grove, “The Bohemian club! Did you say Bohemian club? That’s where all those rich Republicans go up and stand naked against redwood trees right? I’ve never been to the Bohemian club…”

Now honestly, Gentle Reader, I cannot imagine a more horrific fate than spending any time at all in the company of so many bloody Republicans, naked or otherwise, but my friend paid dues, and gladly, for the pleasure.

His annual traverse to The Club was the highlight of his year, or at least one of them. Bill loved that it was a “men only” club. However, what I think he adored even more was announcing all over town that he was departing ultra-conservative West Michigan and heading off to the proverbial Conservative Holy Land to rub elbows with the Republican Holiest of Holy. I think he believed that it gave him super star status with the locals; it certainly gave him tales with which to impress the native Hollander’s upon his return!

I do not believe that Bohemian Grove members embrace Nietzsche’s philosophy of thinking differently; rather they seek out those who think just as they do, as does Bill, who has told me more than once that I need to stop being so “damned different” and try harder to be more like “everyone else.” Advice which I selectively tuned out, I might add.

However, there must have been many an interesting conversation around the lauded “Martini Machine” don’t you think? A true meeting of the minds, where there would be no debate, but instead an assembly of “yes men” all tripping over themselves to agree with each other.

I once had hoped that eventually the “yes people” would fade away and that society would embrace the stimulating and thought provoking dialog that a diversity of thought would bring. However, the quagmire that continues to bog down change has diminished my hopes and it saddens me that we continue to fear difference and flock to that which is familiar and comfortable.

Here is to inclusive being the new “in” and exclusivity becoming passé.

Have a great weekend everyone.

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