When you’re the measure, you’re the measure. How do you stack up against other standards?
The rich American is an international symbol of peace and love… He listens spell-bound in the Holy Land as a Jew tells of the Birth of Christ; and he offers his hand in thanks and understanding. He wheels along I-5, walking through the gears in his KW, trailing a set of doubles and a load of canned goods. She cheers her team in their battle on the gridiron. He walks his beat with humility and a desire to serve his community. He shoulders his pack and leads his group yet deeper into the wilderness mountains along crystal streams. She works the diner from eight to five and joyfully greets each customer.
The Rich American is eternal. He has discovered the key to life, happiness and freedom. His life bespeaks the joys of living and his life is a beacon to his fellows. He knows that those who can, do, and those who can’t, talk. His life is a reflection of the words “and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”
THE NEW AMERICAN April 2008, thirty years later… Can we save America? Is it too late to re-instill the foundational principles that made her great? America is still the light on the hill, a beacon to the lost and hopeless. What can we do to help them? How can we share our joyous pre-adult memories with those who follow? How can we enable them to reach their full potential in a better America? Each of us has a stake in this dream. What will we do?
THE RICH AMERICAN His world is a test tube of creative and beautiful ideas. It is a greenhouse of ever growing thoughts of goodwill toward others. His world is a glittering dew drop on the morning grass. Each day brings new meaning and opportunity. He sees beyond the clusters of tenement houses, increasing social diseases, eight parts per million carbon monoxide, racial prejudice and religious bigotry…to a brighter tomorrow. The rich American is alive. He is open to change for the better. The rich American helps others… She encourages a youngster on the playground. He is the first one to stop along the roadway to help a motorist. She reminds the clerk that he overpaid her. He reaches out a helping hand to a mendicant. He is not always right, but he tries to be fair and just. She does not know all but seeks to live wisely.
(to be continued/one more day)
(Working American)His mother bled before him. Her life was scrub boards, lye soap, starched collars, heatin’ irons, payin’ the bills and more of the same. She rose at three, fixed pa’s breakfast, saw him off to work, got the kids up, fed them, sent them off to school, worked all day trying to make ends meet, then met her family at the front door when they came home. She helped the kids with their three R’s, encouraged them to take part in school plays, drove them to and from school functions. She taught them The Golden Rule, read them the Mother Goose Book and helped them understand the Declaration of Independence…and she remembers the words– “Good, better, best…never let it rest…until your good is better…and your better, best.”
(to be continued…a few more days)
THE WORKING AMERICAN Perspiration is his middle name—from dawn till dusk his has been a life of toil. First it was the fields—clearin’, plantin’, and reapin’. Then came cattle and sheep and railroads and river boats. He punched cows. Herded sheep. He led wagon trains, fixed wagons, rode shotgun on the overland stage. The Oregon Trail was his backyard. He made steel…and he drove steel. He plied the river. He worked the assembly lines and shipyards. Built planes.
(to be continued)
(the Dead American)She bumped another’s car but left a “dummy” note as witnesses stood by. He deducted his travel costs as business expense from his income tax when he visited his mother. She had fake I.D. made for her son so he could drive to work—she couldn’t afford the time to take him herself. He and his “group” control “the little people,” and the “cancer” spreads. He has not been quoted in Poor Richard’s Almanac, but his words are memorable… “Do your own thing”… “Get high, man.” He can be found in a number of places; but he is not living. He is quite dead.
(to be continued)
THE DEAD AMERICAN Better to be called a skeleton. He’s freaked out five days a week and spends the other two looking for a “fix.” He doesn’t know where he is or what it’s all about; but his destiny’s almost a sure thing. He finds no good in anything—“the Niggers are movin’ in ‘cross the way, inflation’ll never let up, boss has it in for me, no one cares about us, the church just keeps passin’ the offerin’ plate.” She is lost from 10 A.M. till 2 A.M. in her world of the tube. A myriad of scenes unfolds before her unseeing eyes—a pregnant wife in love with another man, the father of her child; a teenage idol who can’t face life; game shows; afternoon Westerns; the bang-bang of the detectives after supper; the night shows and the late movies. He could have helped a stranger fight off five oppressing youths, but he feared a law suit. She watched her child “lift” a candy bar from the grocer’s shelf but looked the other way. S He witnessed an accident but never made an effort to give his version. His son lied about a schoolmate, and he, knowingly, believed his boy. He let his boy beat a younger lad senseless.
(to be continued)
THE PROUD AMERICAN Tears of joy filled their eyes while they watched the doctor hold their first born upside down and slap “life” into her lungs. In time she became Miss America. She was striking, and her words conveyed her love of country. His son made the Little League team; he was a sub on the basketball team; he wrestled JV in high school; and he was All-state in football his senior year—his ability was average but he had heart. They watched their daughter exchange vows with her chosen beau and wished them eternal joy in their new life together. He lied about his age and “shipped out” when he was sixteen, to do his part in the war. His doctor allowed him time to memorize the eye chart when the doc realized the lad’s vision was bad but that his heart was 20/20. His commanding officer pulled him from a foxhole with his body riddled; but the lad recovered and was awarded the Purple Heart. He is only five, but he stands with hand over his heart while Old Glory is raised and Francis Scott Key is remembered through the immortal words of the Star Spangled Banner. She wept inside when her daughter told her she was “the meanest mother in the world.” But she cried outwardly when her daughter instructed her own girl, “Grandmother always said, ‘To your own self be true, then you can’t be false to anyone.’” He died at Lexington and Chancellorsville and was at Appomattox when Lee surrendered to Grant. He fought aboard the Bonhomme Richard; and he knew…the price was worth it! (to be continued)
He balanced on a 2×4, clung to the top of the wooden fence and peered through a knot-hole at his favorite team—and tears streaked his dirt-smudged and freckled face when the guys lost, 2-1. He could hardly wait to grow up when he was a kid so he could become a cowboy; but now he’s a long haul trucker, Coast to Coast. Her dream of stardom still exists for her three girls. He watched in sorrow as his older brother was laid to rest in the name of The Union. He heard taps with hot tears streaming down his face; and he addressed his Maker, “Help me love You always, and give me the courage to live or die for my country.” Wasn’t it something that Dad let her drive the old Model A home from town! He’d just as soon forget his first date when he’d stepped on Mae’s toes, and his friends had teased him for weeks! Her little sister hadn’t known the meaning of the Preamble then.
THE IDOLATROUS AMERICAN Idols are his life. With their allurement a number of things capture his dreams—fame, drugs, sex, money, power, fun… He worships at their altar… his name in neon lights; a group of his own; front-page news… a cap, syringe, match, rubber tubing and “snort”; Zig Zag; “roll your own”… a well-developed, curvaceous body, 36-24-36; or maybe one of his own kind where their “love” is shared… vast quantities of greenbacks—ten’s, hundred’s, thousand’s… to have absolute rule over any situation; Kung Fu; “gonna blow you away”… “If it feels good, do it.”
(to be continued)
THE YOUNG AMERICAN She held her breath when she saw the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho, and squeezed her father’s hand as their Conestoga wagon continued westward. He lay before the fireplace reading by its light and dreaming of the day he could serve his country. She stood with her parents and wondered at the meaning of the words that President Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg in 1867. He watched with growing joy, wonder, fear and sorrow at Walt Disney’s Cinderella, Snow White, Pinocchio and Old Yeller. She arose with her little brother before daybreak to peek under the Christmas tree and they were overjoyed that Santa knew just what they wanted…but they wondered how he knew. He felt his father’s razor strap for saying things his parents forbade him to say. His principal called his dad when he misbehaved at school, and his father called him on it. His pants held a multitude of interesting play things and devices—two dead tadpoles, a rusty knife with a broken blade, a live toad, a 3/8-inch carriage bolt and a ½-inch nut…and a patch of missing hair on his head reminded others of his most recent encounter with bubble gum.
(to be continued)