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SANTA CLAUSE?

“Honesty is the best policy”
“Good Girls and Boys Wait ‘Til They’re Married”
“Those elected to high office… honor and protect the public trust given them”
“God is good!”
“If you’re real good, Santa Claus will come to see you on Christmas Eve.”

Where have all our old and proven values gone? In these new, modern times, have we made them all obsolete? Have we dismissed them in the name of “progress?” Are we just too busy for all that old stuff? I hope not!

Once upon a time it was not only disgraceful to be the one convicted of a crime, but shame was borne by the family and relatives as well. Those found guilty were branded as “convicts” for the rest of their lives. In short, “crime didn’t pay.” Today, one can commit a crime, plea bargain for a lesser charge, and get out of prison after serving only a third (or less) of the original sentence. If the offense is heinous enough, the criminal gets an agent who cuts lucrative royalty deals for rights to a novel and a movie that generate millions for them both! In the bargain, there are talk show appearances and tabloid features and standup comics know their names as such people become celebrities. Meanwhile, the victim’s family members suffer not only their personal loss, but the humiliation of seeing their tragedy reap benefits to the criminal.

No wonder average citizens are becoming increasingly more cynical about this general state of affairs. A sense of helplessness often sets in leading the individual to submit to the growing, universal attitude… “Since I’m powerless to do anything about things as they are, I’ll ignore them.” Further deterioration of the human spirit leads to the even more dangerous attitude of “Since everybody else is doing what they please, I’ll try to get away with whatever I can!” Doing things because they are right loses out to doing things that are expedient. Too many in our new generations are growing up with such negative role models to copy, while the “good guys” become harder for them to find all the time.

If this trend is allowed to continue unabated, the future for our grandchildren and generations beyond them looks awfully bleak. Those of us who care about the world we leave behind must swing the pendulum in the opposite direction. Clearly, none of us professes to be innocent of these and other shortcomings… certainly not this writer.

Perhaps we should begin with a bit of self-evaluation of our own beliefs and how we put them into daily practice. Do we have a philosophy for our lives based on recognizable tenets? If we profess to have such beliefs, how true to them are we? Conflicts between the right action and that which is most expedient (even most profitable) are present everyday. It’s past time for well meaning individuals to let themselves be seen and heard in the name of honesty and decency. It’s time for us to be more determined than ever to set the example we want our children to follow so that our grandchildren will inherit a world worth living in.

As the expression goes, “…If not me, who? …If not now, when?” Certainly our political leaders have to help set the example, but if all the governments at all the levels exerted their united energies, the result would be limited at best. Clearly, religious institutions must play even more visible roles in an all out crusade to arouse and sustain our focus on these moral and ethical issues. And, to some extent, the broad spectrum of civic organizations can have an impact when they choose to do so. But, as important as all these organizations are to the well-being of our society, there is ultimately no escape from the bottom line: individual responsibilities must be accepted and fulfilled if we are to truly reverse the negative trends that affect all of us today.

Maybe when we each make such commitments, we’ll rediscover what it felt like to believe in Santa Claus. That wouldn’t be too bad, would it?
[I know I still believe in him and play music of the season at times throughout the year.]

Observations on a Sunday Morning (Sept 30, 2007)

Observations on a Sunday Morning
30Sept07

I fear for the well-being of this nation as…
1. The oil interests here and in the Middle East continue strangling the economy of our petroleum-dependent society, while systematically preventing development of alternative fuels.
2. Young people become aware they are being knowingly recruited by political leaders who were themselves put in power by unbridled money interests to ensure our patriots fight their wars so such oil interests can sustain control over oil reserves as they rapidly run out! Where will we turn for our armies when genuine threats to our security arise?
3. Those with wealth complete the dismantling of our manufacturing infrastructure, shifting instead to China and a broad base of underdeveloped, but developing countries—we can’t export most of the services that increasingly dominate our jobs base.
4. China is said to graduate 500,000 engineers each year while the US graduates only 60,000 – they have more honor students in engineering than we have students!
5. The long-standing strength of our middle class is eliminated as the rich become richer and the rest are forced downward by out-of-control health care costs, cost of home ownership, and increasing obsolescence of their job skills.
6. We in America fail to recognize [or ignore] the lessons of history that are fast repeating themselves here to our peril. It’s been 332 years since we declared our independence. Consider what happened in relatively shorter periods to Egypt, Persia, Rome, the Dutch, British, French, Germans –while today, modern China is on the move and we are in decline…

When the objective observer listens to him today, it is evident there’s nobody else in America today who can come to close to matching the intellect and judgment of President Clinton… where will the next super leader come from and when? Maybe, Breck, someday.

LASTING LOVE

Lasting Love
[Dec 13, 1994]
by John Robinson

It was the glint of shiny metal in the bright sunshine from behind the hedges across the way that first caught my eye. Then, I could see the gray felt hat. It was a man’s hat, probably a Stetson I guessed, tilted over so the face beneath it could not be seen, as it inched closer to me. Head bent down over the handles of his walker, an old gentleman made his way along the sidewalk towards the lady who was patiently watching him as she led them both away from the apartment building. She was attentive and ready to assist, but kept her distance so as to avoid the appearance to others that her husband could not make his own way. In a few minutes he managed to maneuver himself to the parking lot where his wife stood with car door open, ready to help him climb inside.
She spoke in a steady, gentle voice as she drove them out of the parking lot towards the Big Spring Park to watch the feeding of ducks.

“The gentleman an’ his fine lady… they always together,” said the nurse who also told me, “you could watch them just like this every day about this time, providin’ the weather will allow it.”

I followed them to the park and spent the next hour just taking it all in as the sun warmed my back to fend off the winter chill. Every few minutes the lady would wipe his nose, removing the moisture that formed droplets, so no one would see him in a condition that might have caused him to be embarrassed. Though stoop shouldered now, you could imagine this man had once carried himself erect with the pride and dignity of the soldier he had been in his youth, and his wife would not permit him to appear otherwise before others.

Just then the wind began to threaten the brim of his hat and waves lapped the bank where the ducks were riding the surface in anticipation of receiving more bread from their audience. She made sure the hat was firmly in place, pulled the scarf further up his neck, and straightened his upturned collar, all the while reassuring him the ducks had enjoyed quite enough to eat.

After a while his head made a final nod and rested on his chest as sleep took over for his afternoon nap. I was just about to offer to help her make him more comfortable on a nearby bench when he suddenly raised his head.
“Oh,” she said to him, not seeing me approach to help, “you’re back.”
“Yes, that was good.” His eyes were alert as he surveyed the lake, the ducks and the rest of the surroundings. “Guess it’s time to go if we’re gonna make our 2:30
appointment.”

“There’s still time,” she said, moving to check his hat, scarf and collar. Apparently satisfied with her answer, he resumed his steady gazing at the choppy waves.

“He sometimes gets impatient,” she told me as she motioned for me to sit on the other end of her park bench. “You see, we’ve been a team for many years, my husband and me. I mean we were a great sales team. We used to ride together all over this valley, selling data processing systems, mostly to small companies. Those were grand times for us back then. Our favorite place for lunch was along the banks of the big lake at Guntersville where we would eat fried chicken while we watched the coots and wood ducks bobbing up and down for food. That was before our children came along.”

She was lost in her thoughts as she remembered how things used to be. Her voice was almost a whisper. Her eyes watered, but she wouldn’t allow them to shed tears. To her, the tears were private, only to be shared with her husband. I saw them welling up just the same, but turned away before she could see me watching too closely. It was a good thing too, because her emotions had found their way into mine and I couldn’t stop my own tears from escaping.
I thought to myself, I’ve always been too romantic. Here I am almost crying about this love scene I’ve been watching and I don’t even know these people! With that self admonishment, I tightened the grip on myself.

“So you see, John thinks we’ve been having one of our famous lunches again today, and now it’s time for us to see a customer at 2:30. He’s always been one of those people who could sleep for 10 or 15 minutes and wake up rearin’ to go. I can’t take a short nap… I feel terrible when I wake up unless I can sleep for several hours.”

“I’m the same way as you,” I said.

She stood and began fussing with his clothing one last time. “Well, it’s time for us to get back before this wind gives him a bad chill. Thanks for the chat.”
With that, she persuaded her husband to leave and after another several minutes retracing his steps and entering the front seat, they drove away.

That was the last I ever saw of the old couple, but I’ve always remembered meeting them that December day. I remember them because they were so obviously dedicated to each other. Their lives together had been a continuing love story — the way I always hoped the lines of my final chapters would be written — the way I hope there will be someone to love and love you as you grow older as well.

Now after all these years, I’m thankful to have witnessed the love I saw between John and his wife back then. That brief encounter made a lasting impression on me. Though I never knew her name, since I was Blessed with one who took care of me for so long the way John’s wife looked after him, whenever I tell this story to my grandchildren, I call her “Nancy” in memory of my own wife.

Slow Down to Radio Speed

RADIO

Neutering of America

NEUTER

Observations: 2007

Observations on a Sunday Morning–30Sept07

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