Most of the time — or rather I should say all of the time — my words just seem to flow with no end to them. The only thing that stops them ( my words) is the fact that there is just not enough space here on this page to put all my thoughts to words, so I do have to cut back — to a degree. Some will say that it all needs to be cut back and off. Oh well, you just need to try and get over it, or better yet, you try and write and see just how far you get. It’s not that easy as some might think. Today is one of those days in which I find myself struggling to put my thoughts to words during this time of Thanksgiving. I know what I want to say but how do I say it? Today I wish to write about us — not just me, but all of us. Maybe I need to clarify “us.” I do not mean just my age group. But with that said, I guess that is my starting point. But I will get to others.
I, as with many of my readers, was born at a time when, of course, things did change — but not every day as they do now. I will say that a lot of the change has been good for all the people. I have talked to a lot of different people, both black and white. A lot of them were elderly people with the wisdom of life. One thing that I have learned from all of those people is this: It might not have been great years ago, but it was better than what it is now.
Some of the young will say that’s wrong, it was not better 50 years ago. To you I say this: How the hell would you know? You were not even alive, so you really cannot say that. Then you will hear from some: Well, I know what I have read from those past days. Really, a lot of what you might have read was selective and not the reality of every day life. In different areas of the country, of course, things would have been very different as compared to other areas. That’s a given.
One thing that I have seen go to the wayside is kindness and understanding for our fellow man. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of good people out there who do have a kind and gentle heart. Most of that, but not all, comes from my generation and others of course. One of the kindest groups comes from the generation before the “baby boomers.” This generation has lived a long and full life. They have struggled with life and overcome adversity. With that struggle has come life’s learning lessons along with true wisdom. I have learned so much from people in their 80s, 90s and yes, even older. One thing I have learned is a sad aspect of their getting older. I have seen their fear of living in today’s modern world. Their kindness has put a target on their backs. They were born at a time when trust and a man’s word and handshake meant everything to them. It still does to me, for all I have is my word and handshake. Those values are in short supply today. But they do exist for some of us. The seniors born in the ‘30s and ‘40s have a true fear of being a victim. It truly does break my heart for them. Because this is not the same America that they were born to and raised in.
Even at my age I have fears. I tell people on a regular basis that I take care of all my business during daylight hours. I do not go out at night any more if I do not have to. It’s not that I fear what’s out there, it’s the fact that I fear myself. I know what I am going to do for you if you think for one moment that you are going to make me a victim. I have been a victim in the past and I cannot forget what that did to me. I don’t want to harm anyone but I cannot and will not allow anyone to harm me. Peace, at this point in my life, is all that I want, just like most people. But you still have that element that will try to victimize you if they think they can. They seek out the weak and elderly.
Hate is becoming more accessible than ever before and that poses a distinctive, and particularly credible insidious, threat to us all. Hate, of course, comes in many different forms. I have seen hate in the faces of some, but not all, of our young at the checkout counter. I have greeted individuals and received no response whatsoever. I have thanked them when I received my change, only to be greeted with a stone cold look of displeasure for even talking to them. I had asked for nothing other than to be treated with the same respect as I had shown them. It made me feel and think: How would you feel if your parents or grandparents had been disrespected? What’s so hard about being kind and showing respect? Some of the disrespect comes from the home and some of it comes from the streets. It does not have to be that way. A bit of understanding will take us all a long way in this journey of life that we all experience.
I, with my words, do not try to judge anyone. I know that we all have had bad days. That, again, is part of life. There is no reason to project that personal pain into hate of others who have done nothing to you. As I have written in the past: Every day is another page in our book of life. There will be many, many chapters in our own personal book of life. We all chose the direction that we travel in life. For some, the path will have more twists and turns than we could have ever imagined. For others, the path will have been straight and narrow and to the point. It matters not where those paths have taken us but it does matter where we end up at the end of our journey. Life’s learning lessons with all of its experiences are what make us who we are and what we are. To have learned from life is truly a treasure of life — both the good and bad. For as we all know, life is by no means going to be perfect for any of us. The rich and the poor come into this life in the same manner. We come into it screaming and crying. We also scream and cry during the making of our life.
We can only hope that at some point in our life that it all evens out. In most cases it does, while in some of our lives it never will. Still, we try and do the best that we can. The effort for a better life is paid for in the trials and tribulations that we all receive in this quest for life. It matters not if we are rich or poor; for in the end, knowing that we have had a fruitful life means all to most of us. The material part of our life does not have the importance as of knowing that you did the best that you could with what life gave you.
The kindness, caring and consideration that you showed your fellow man during this journey of life carries more weight than any evil that you ever received during life. So take the time to ask yourself: Who are we and what are we?
Robert Lee is a concerned citizen and U.S. Marine veteran who owns and operates Rockingham Guns and Ammo. His column appears here each Saturday.