On Reflection

Those who know me well know that I have been a political junkie for many years.

You also know that justice, integrity, honesty, loyalty and fairness form the core of my being.  None of those elements is fuzzy, wishy-washy or taken lightly.  Each owns its intimate share of gravitas for me.

The caption under my high school graduation picture in my senior yearbook for that year reads, “Every man of courage is a man of his word.”  Over these last 47 years that message has grown in meaning to me.  Did my high school friends see something in that only in these later years has spoken more deeply and profoundly to me?  Do those words give credibility and authenticity to the fundamentals of my character?   Have they framed my later stages of life?  Truly, I want to believe they do.

I come from a family where discipline was law, not an exception.  My father was a stern and strict Scots-Irishman who was unbending in his demands for excellence, hard work, truth, honesty and steadfast determination.

Much of that framed not only me, but most of the young Americans I grew up with in the rolling hills of Maryland farmland.  There was honor in a hard day’s work, and anyone who knows a thing about farming knows about a hard day’s work!

Honesty and truthfulness put one closer to God, they said.  To lie, to cheat, to steal or to be disloyal violated some unwritten inborn oath one had made with God.  Yes, God was important:  Church or Sunday school every Sunday.  Prayer was said before every meal, even in restaurants when we went out to eat (which was not often, because money was not abundant at home).

I was a Boy Scout, sang in the choir, served as a church youth leader and was an avid fundraiser during Holiday sell-a-thons for Christmas nuts, cookies and whatever else we might purvey for the good of the church, the Scout fund or the community.

God was not some distant grandfather-styled figure who lofted above the earth in a heavenly white robe with a long gray beard handing down edicts from on high.  God was a constant source and presence in one’s life.

In school we prayed The Lord’s Prayer each day, and we saluted “Old Glory”.  Teachers had full authority over us.  If we got out of line and the folks at home found out, watch out!  The rule of the teacher was never in question.  Even the smallest misdemeanor could be regarded as a heinous criminal act.  Upon returning home at the end of the school day, one prayed to Almighty God mom or dad had not “found out”.

At the end of every “Yes” or “No” came a “Sir” or “Ma’am”.  Failure to end such responses with the required suffix could result in nothing less than hell’s fury.

When elders walked into the living room or the dining room where the younger among us had been sitting, we stood immediately.  We did not sit again until the older folk or the ladies had taken their place.  If there were no places left to sit, we stood; and we stood quietly; silently.

Television was turned off by a certain hour on weeknights, homework study taking full priority over any entertainment one might otherwise hope to indulge in.

An honest day’s work was expected for an honest day’s pay, and slacking off was to be as much as a sin against God.

Holding doors open for ladies and one’s elders and always taking one’s hat off inside any building was never the exception.  It was the rule.  Respect for others was not an exercise randomly exercised.

To be mediocre was to “miss the mark”, so striving toward excellence and personal betterment were real signs of good, strong character; of being the good citizen.

All of these standards of performance were ingrained in us, drilled into us in such manner that they formed the template for our futures.  They served me well in my military duty, my leaving the US Air Force with three written commendations for outstanding leadership and excellent performance.

Those values, unlike the muddled values of today, have served me well over these last 47 years.  They were not “my” values; they were “our” values.  If you did not like a certain group of people, or a particular lifestyle, you were told, “Leave them alone.  Walk away.  Mingle with your own kind.”  We were told to keep our nose out of someone else’s business.

“Mind your own business,” and “Change what you can change” were the voices of reason frequently heard and handed down by those older and wiser.

Most important was, “Be the best you can be.”

The foregoing code of ethics might seem foolish or trite to many today.  In fact, my experience over recent years is this code of ethics is embraced by far too few and regarded by too many as foolish, a waste of time.

“What does all this have to do with my being a political junkie”, you might ask?  Everything!

This week a man was sent to prison for stealing 50 BILLION dollars from his clients.  50 BILLION!  Yet we, the humble wage earners, must now foot the bill for his incarceration.

Lending institutions over-qualified families dying to own a home, families who did not qualify to buy that home.  Now those families are about to lose their home if they have not lost it already.  Why?  Because someone higher-up in the pipeline of the lending institution wanted to close more deals, make more money and claim their own great success story of the moment.

We hear a national radio talk-show host who boasts loudly how he wants our current president “to fail”.  To my ears, that is a first in our history!  It translates into, “Let this nation fail!”  There was a time when such talk would have been considered un-American, even treasonous.  Now, it gets widespread celebrity.  He continues to earn millions where he should have been run out of town on a rail.  Fired on the spot!

Again this week we hear about our most recent president and vice president authorizing secret hit squads, teams of assassins.  Those two former senior representatives of our nation authorized torture in direct violation of numerous national and international codes.  Is this not criminal?

College graduates today cannot form simple sentences.  They cannot even reconcile a basic checkbook.  Too many are buoyed up by “mommy” and “daddy”.  Left to their own devices, these young people could not survive in our real world.  In the future, they may not.  After mommy and daddy are dead and gone, then what?

A sociologist recently reported that the generation now coming into adolescence is so inept they will not be able to function as adults when they become adults!

Our national infrastructure has fractured, despite years of warnings from engineers, architects and savvy managers.  Roads and bridges collapse despite early warning signs that could have changed such fate.  Corporations fail because of failed leadership, dinosaur mentalities and ether-style thinking.

Members of Congress approve millions of taxpayer dollars for bridges to nowhere, airports in the middle of nowhere and frivolous “pork” projects that defy the public trust.

While politicians are in abundance, leaders are in very short supply while in great demand.  The poverty of leadership in our nation is a disgrace.

Those who make honest, sincere efforts to improve the plight of our world are overshadowed by those who rob from the public and the land.  Larceny of the commonweal has become standard fare.

Villains have protections and rights greater than their victims.  Judges often are so corrupt they fail in just decisions to give sway to their own power, political connections and job security.

Our Constitution has been undermined and soiled by those entrusted by oath to protect it.  Many who claim to be solid citizens are the latest fascists.  “Liberty and justice for all” has become “liberty, justice, power and wealth for the few”.

Congress passes laws giving corporate America a free ride while we the working people see our lives and lifestyles diminished over time.  The middle class that once was has fallen to the lesser class.  The poor cannot get much poorer.

The “American Dream” for too many has become the “American Nightmare”.  The promise of a good and solid future has been robbed from us by the very ones elected to protect and shore up that future.

Our national financial system is bankrupt.  We, the capitalists, now borrow from the communists – and by huge sums!

Our US Military is sent off to fight false wars, big lies.  Who is to stop it?  Large corporations get fat off the blood of our national treasure, our Military.  We the people get to foot that bill, too.

Corporate heads watch their companies go “belly up” while exiting with millions in “parachutes”, buyouts and stock options.  Their workers, the ones who brought corporate heads their success, see their life savings disappear, jobs lost and lives ruined.

America the beautiful has become America the ugly.  Children run their parents.  Parents run the schools.  Corporations run the nation.  Inept managers run viable entities into the ground.  National politicians simply run:  run toward greater power, run toward greater personal wealth and greed, run to the next big lie or deception and often simply run to hide.

America need not worry about terrorists from the outside.  We already have enough people destroying us within!  This is, after all, about politics: politics at every level, in every quarter, because everything is political.

Have you had enough of all this?  I have!