Where are all the good guys?

On the way to looking something up the other day, I ran into something else equally as interesting, almost serendipitous. Looking up some information on the Christian ‘7 Deadly Sins’, I stumbled onto what Gandhi considered his version of the same. Intrigued, I decided to take a detour and see what the little man had to say, after all, being raised Christian only gives you the view from one side of the mountain. As youngsters in a Catholic/Christian upbringing being taught the fear of God by our nuns and priests, we were all too familiar with the ‘7 Sins’ as well as the ‘7 Godly Virtues.’ I must admit I had failed to remember Gandhi’s version but, I imagine, that they ring as true today as they did back in the 1940s when he first shared them with the world: Wealth without work. Politics without principle. Commerce without morality. Science without humanity. Knowledge without character. Worship without sacrifice. Pleasure without conscience. Some pretty heady stuff, yes? And, as timely today as they were almost seventy years hence.

We are sitting on a mountain of problems in this country at present and no one, NO ONE, seems to want to do anything about them. Everyone who has the power to do anything about any of this just runs around in circles pointing their collective fingers at everyone else. Democrats vs. Republicans. Conservative vs. Liberal. Business vs. Working class. And everybody waits. We wait for the next election, maybe a mid-term election. In the fall, we wait for spring or better yet, let’s wait for summer, things are always better in the summer. And we wait. And we wait. No wonder nothing gets done. We’re all too busy waiting. Most of the problems that we now face are monetary in nature, but the political climate must be changed before we can start to fix the business end. In the past, in every state capitol and even in our nation’s capitol, at the end of the day, everyone sat down with everyone else and had drinks and dinner. What happened to those days? Somewhere, something seems to have changed and not necessarily for the better and WE are paying the price for it. Not the politicians. Not labor or business. It’s US. In the U.S. of A.

Back in the day, we had people who looked out for their countrymen- we used to call them ‘statesmen.’ Now, that word seems old-fashioned. But, these were the folks who looked out for the next generation, these were the people who did what was best for the country, these were the people who tried to produce a certain moral character in the population at-large and get people together for the good of the country; leaders like Paul Douglas, Barry Goldwater, Everett Dirksen and Howard Baker, to name a few. What we have to do is put aside our petty differences and do what must be done for the good of our country. And, if we take the lead, then the rest of the world will follow and then we can get back to the business of living our lives in peace and harmony, which is the way the ‘Great Statesman’ upstairs would probably like to see things.

At least, that’s the way I see it. MLProko ©2010   www.mikeproko.com

Published in: on October 30, 2010 at 9:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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People helping people

Americans have always been a ‘no nonsense’ bunch. And they always will be. At least, that’s the way the rest of the world sees us. Think about it? John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, Gen. Patton and on and on. My grandfather used to say: You lead, follow or get the heck outta the way!  Whether it be entertainment, business, politics or even the military, Americans have a way of seeing through all the ‘smoke and mirrors’, and most of the time will do what’s right. Even if some of the politicians of late have pushed us in the direction of ‘socialism’, usurping our personal freedoms in the name of homeland security, we always reserve the right of throwing the bums out on their collective cans.

Right now, we’re in a pickle here in the USA. Everything is in such a mess, we can’t tell the bottom from the top. How did this all happen? To answer that, I’d have to write an encyclopedia, but that’s not important. What is important is the future, our future and the future of the United States. Listen, we’ve been up against it before and, Lord knows, we’ll be up against it again. But there is a certain magic at work in our country. It’s the magic of the people. How we can all come together in a time of crisis and help one another. For some reason, we seem to be forgetting that. America’s strength has always been in its people. Sure, the ‘talking heads’ will take credit for all that goes right, but we have a way of seeing through all of that. People helping each other. That’s the only way we’re going to fix what needs fixin’. We must remember that what was broke by man can be fixed by man. It’s that simple. As soon as that’s done, the people will go back to their respective communities and live out their lives until the next crisis arises.

When Hurricane Andrew leveled Homestead, Florida back in ’92, a group of builders from Wisconsin donated their labor and materials and drove down to Florida and helped rebuild Homestead. Probably because it was the right thing to do. Two years later, a ‘killer’ tornado wreaked havoc on a small town in northern Wisconsin, leveling most of it. Guess who showed up? The people from Homestead. Probably because it was the right thing to do. Americans helping other Americans. That is our character. That is our strength. Always has been. Always will be.

So, let’s not forget how much we have going for us rather than focusing on how bad things are. Now, let’s roll up those shirt-sleeves and give someone else a hand. Remember, in time, they will be there to help you. I know this.

At least, that’s the way I see it.  MLProko, 2010   www.mikeproko.com                                  [#1, 02-10]

Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 12:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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On Driving Through The Desert

Much to my wife’s chagrin, I had decided to drive from Tucson to Las Vegas to visit our daughter and her family. Just fly there and then rent a car was her admonishment. Moving down to the southwest after living a lifetime in Chicago, this would be my first time to spend some time looking at the beautiful landscape of our wonderful country. First and foremost, you are struck by the enormity of the desert and its variety of plantings, the mountains and the hills. But, it’s the vastness of the topography that will give you pause. Secondly, you get to see the variety of homes that also dot the barren land. How could anyone live out here, you think to yourself. And I’m sure most of the families are just at home as we are in our environs. Man, they gotta be tough stuff!

But the imagination that was fueled by my love for history and all things Americana started to get the best of me as my eyes peeled over the terrain. Yea, sure, here I am speeding through the desert in a newer car travelling better than a mile a minute. But then, my mind started to go back in time, back when you had to make your way through this terrain in a prairie schooner with only the sun and the stars to guide you. Or worse, by yourself on horseback. Lewis and Clark had nothing on these pioneers I’ll tell you.

Then, my imagination led me to a sweat lodge. It was crowded with any one of dozens of Native American Indian tribes that made up the landscape of that part of the country a hundred years ago. After spending two or three days in the sweat lodge, maybe a handful of young braves were sent out into the desert [all in different directions] as a right of passage, to get back in touch with Mother Earth and Father Sky and to face their demons. When this catharsis takes place, some would have you believe that the demons become the spirits that will guide them the rest of their days as a brave or a tribal chief or even a shaman. And all of this is flying through my imagination as I’m zipping over the desert in my modern day prairie schooner. But what about those who were unable to come to terms with their demons? What happened to them? Were they given another trial? Or were they banished? Again, my writers’ mind had more questions than answers. How many over the years had walked this same landscape seeking life’s answers. My answer would come in the form of a child’s smile in Las Vegas hours later.

There is something magical about spending a week with an 18 month old little girl. The innocence. The spontaneous joy. The ever present smile. Looking at everything as if it were a miracle. What is going on in that tiny head of hers? We were all like that once. What happened? Where did it all go? What happened to our joy? The children are teaching us a lesson here. All that we really need is in front of us at this very moment.

The drive back through the desert was made closer to dusk and when the sun finally did hide behind the rocks, the night sky lit up with a billion stars so close you’d swear that you could touch them. I had to pull safely over and drink this all in, walked a couple of steps into the desert and listened to the wolves and the coyotes off in the distance. Those two along with the hawks had been my totem since I was a child. It did my heart good to hear their voices. As I looked up at the brightness of the starry night, I felt a warmth in my chest and the writer in me told me that the hope that we each carry in our hearts will always shine brighter than all the stars in all the heavens. Things really haven’t changed all that much since men started walking their own deserts. Since the beginning of time, we’ve all wanted a better, safer world for our children, a world filled with hope and dreams, the same hope and dreams we first saw as kids. I think that’s what the Indians found out there, too, years ago.

At least, that’s the way I see it. MLProko ©2010    www.mikeproko.com

Published in: on October 8, 2010 at 10:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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