Philosophy - Who is this Guy?

There’s an old saying that you should never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins’. I think that applies to reading or listening to all the things thrown at us today.

Is that person on the TV really telling us the truth in the news or is he/she turning it to favor a personal bias or position? Does that newspaper have a particular candidate or philosophy it is promoting as being the news? Who is telling the truth?

Now I don’t claim to be very smart, so let me lay a little of this on you. I think you need to know a little about how I think before you can make a good judgment about some of my crazy ideas and opinions.

My first breath was drawn in a home for unwed mothers. The Florence Crittenden Home for unwed Mothers was the real name, but most of the local folks called it “Flo’s Place”

A wonderful farm couple that were unable to have children of their own made me their’s and gave me my sense of values and hard work. I can still hear my Mom today saying, “We might be poor but by golly we are going to be clean” and that’s the way she ran her house. Worn, threadbare, patched, bleached from many washings our clothes and home might have been pretty worn out but they were always spic and span.

Dad worked the farm fields during the day and cut wood at night to keep food on the table. Mom made quilts to sell and in the winter time they would spend the long evenings picking the meats from walnuts to sell for a little cash. Doing chores and what level of work I could handle were just a part of everyday living.

Looking back some seventy years seems like a long time ago. So much has happened in all those years. So much change, some good, some bad. Wars, strikes, droughts, financial crisis make the bad list. Good financial times, friends, family, opportunities to move ahead mark the good times list.

Over those years I have been hired, fired, worked at jobs I hated because I needed food on the table, had a couple of jobs I enjoyed, been out of work not knowing where the next meal might come from, raised a family and have spent the last thirty plus years with the best wife any man could ever have.

My education degree is from the University of Hard Knocks. My major is in Experience with a minor in Common Sense.

So when I express an opinion or a viewpoint it is based on past personal experience, history and an undying love for this great country of ours.

That brings me to the reason for writing this to you. We hear a lot about politics, government and politicians these days. Some good, most bad but not a lot of it based upon the truth. Yet the government is the one force in this country that has the most power over our lives, other than God.

One of the primary purposes of the structure of our form of governance is to allow the flow of open and free debate. Any person should feel free to express their ideas without fear of retribution or punishment of any kind. Open and free discussions with opposing views is the natural way to sort out ideas, pick the good ones and eliminate the bad and, yes, reach compromise on issues that are extremely difficult and supported by nearly totally opposing viewpoints.

Open and free discussion of ideas, not personalities, is the stew pot where all the ingredients, some of them sweet and some sour, are thoroughly mixed together, allowed to cook and steam in their own juices, intermingling their separate flavors into one delicious soup. A soup that can be enjoyed by and will benefit the masses with its tremendous flavor while giving stamina and strength to those that will partake of the magic recipe.

Our forefathers had the insight to realize that any form of free government must at all times listen to the governed and be a servant to the governed. They formed the two Houses of Congress for just that purpose, to listen to and respond to the people and always, always be a servant of the people.

Thus, free and open discussion is an important part of forming ideas that can benefit this country.

Today, however, it all seems to be shouting and an unrelenting quest for power. It is a "Me First" mentality that has taken over the political process. Today we never discuss ideas, it's a game of "gotcha" played by political consultants and the press. More ink and air time is devoted to a slip of the lip that means absolutely nothing in the big picture than they will give to asking real questions about issues that are important to the country as a whole.

More attention is devoted to someone being politically correct (PC) than to the person's accomplishments, leadership ability and knowledge of important facts. Just stop and think how many really good people, in both political parties, we have seen torn down and discarded over some small slip of the tongue or the use of a word that we all use but some group is "outraged" that a person seeking office would upper such a sound.

Grow up people! Political Correctness has done this country more damage than we will ever be able to measure.

I remember one time at a "town meeting" we had finished with the business of the day and were just having a general conversation as we picked up our papers and such to leave. One gentleman brought up a story regarding a particularly horrific murder in the DC area that had made it all the way back into small town Midwest USA.

We all agreed that living in small towns had many advantages over the big city. We know our neighbors, know what the kids are up to on Saturday night, not much escapes the people that live there.

I made a crack that is really a take off on an old rodeo joke we used in days gone by, "One thing about my home town, everybody knows what everybody else is doing, we just read the newspaper to see who got caught at it."

Unknown to me at the time, the editor of the local paper who had just moved there from the East Coast, took great umbrage with my comment.

The next day she wrote the meanest, nasty, in your face editorial about me I have ever read. (Well, there might be a couple of others that fit this category but more about them later.) She claimed I hated small town newspapers and the people that published them, I had absolutely no respect for the feelings of people living in small towns, I was cold, callous and unfeeling toward the people I represented. That was just the opening paragraph.

Normally, I just let these things go, but this one required an answer. Taking pen in hand I wrote her a rather lengthy, and I thought nicely toned note, telling her that I had been in the commercial radio business for many years and we worked hand in hand with our local paper and that the paper was an important part of any community and on and on.

The next week her editorial was worse than the first.

Anyway, back to the business at hand.

Open, honest discussion is truly the backbone of good ideas and good government.

Knowing what is true or false, however, is becoming more and more difficult. The news media has a responsibility to give us the facts and let us make up our own minds. The old "W's" of journalism. What? Where? Who? Why? When? In the words of "Dragnet's" officer Joe Friday, "Just the facts ma'am, just the facts."

Today we do not have that open, honest flow of public information. The major media has sold out to one political party and the U.S. Government is controlled by that same political party.

In the eyes of this old farm boy, that is a prescription for disaster.

Free, open and honest debate of ideas is now a thing of the past. It's gone, dead, buried under a 24/7 bombardment of broadcasts and newspapers that want high ratings and, more importantly, are using their public trust to forward a particular set of political ideas. Even in the so-called entertainment programs you will find deep seated political views that are subliminally planting ideas in people's minds.

Neither political party has the corner on good ideas. Neither party is either all bad or all good. In fact, a conservative Democrat could well be a Republican in certain parts of the country and a moderate to liberal Republican could run as a liberal Democrat and win in other parts of the country. So let’s first throw out the party labels.

To my way of thinking, it is the core values of the politicians that count. Where did they come from? What have they done in their lives other than politics? What is the level of their faith in God and personal moral principles? How do they feel about helping those that, due to reasons beyond their control, are disadvantaged? How do they feel about supporting our military? What is their idea of the role and size of government? What is their view on individual rights?

There are others but I think you get the drift.

Life's wealth is not measured by the amount of money in your bank account. Real wealth is family and friends, neighbors that are real neighbors, helping someone that is genuinely in need and being a good listener. Loyalty and honesty rank right up at the top when it comes to character traits that really count.

Dad did thousands of dollars worth of business based on his word and handshake. He taught me that your reputation is really the only thing you have to sell. All you get out of life is the trip through it so do your best to live a good one. Be responsible for what you do, either good or bad. Listen before you speak, everybody has some good in them and always know the difference between what you need and what you want.

With all the challenges in their life, my folks never asked for a handout and didn't have much use for those that did. They believed strongly that a person had to earn their way in this world. Work was a virtue and you had an obligation to help those that, through no fault of their own, were having tough times.

Those values served them well through sickness and in health, lean years and good ones. That is a legacy they left me to live up too.

So, as you read through some of my ramblings maybe you will have an appreciation for where my allegiances lie, my opinions are formed and realize when I'm trying to add a little humor. After all, laughter is the cheapest and one of the best medicines we can take.

Hope you enjoy what you will find here.

Copyright©2009 Jim Ross Lightfoot All rights reserved