Sunday, August 24,2008

Three days into my sixty-fifth year on Earth and I find myself wondering if I’ll live long enough to see some things that, as a child, I assumed would be everyday occurrences.

For instance, I used to think that every election day I would proudly walk into the voting booth and cast my ballot for my favorite candidate. That has yet to happen. Instead, I cast my vote against the person I deem to be the worst of the choices. In other words, I’m voting for the lesser of two evils. One would think that with a population as large as ours, at least one political party could endorse a person who was something other than an egotistical maniac who wouldn’t be able to run a corner grocery store.

I used to believe that anybody could grow up to be President. Now, I believe anyone who wants the job must be willing to sell his or her soul to the people who hold the purse strings. Further, I believe anybody who had the ability to really do a good job as leader of the free world is too intelligent to take the job. He or she can make a lot more money in the private sector and have a lot fewer headaches to show for it.

Next, I always believed that the people who served as church leaders were good people who went out of their way to act kindly to everyone they met.

When I studied history in high school and learned about the Crusades, the Inquisition, and Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ against Jews, I came to realize that many evil men use God and the church as facades to corrupt and influence the actions of their followers.

Unfortunately, such manipulation continues to this day. When radical leaders of any religion use their position to instill hatred against others, it tears my old belief system to shreds. How can someone who claims to be acting on behalf of God perform such despicable acts?

Sadly, such acts often occur on a smaller scale in local churches. Church leaders who have personality conflicts with other members of the church sometimes do very distasteful things to see that their adversary is pushed out.

I’ve been avoiding terms such as Christian and unchristian because such activity is not confined to any one religion. In fact, similar acts are seen on a daily basis in most offices. People who frown on such activity call it “Politics”. That’s an interesting comparison. Dirty politics would be more descriptive.

One of the first things I was taught as a child was to live by the Golden Rule. I don’t think “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is from the Bible or any other religious text, but it certainly is a great motto.

Of course, it didn’t take many years for me to learn that some people take a different approach. Even then, I wanted to believe that the people who lie, cheat, and steal were a very small minority of the population. Once again, growing older is teaching me the opposite. I hate to think that the evil people in this world may outnumber the honest folks, but the things I see and hear every day cause me to wonder.

Maybe I can blame a lot of my thoughts on the news media. If we’re lucky, the local news teams might devote a minute or two to a heart warming story. The remainder of the newscasts are telling us about the murders, rapes, and robberies.

For my own sanity, I’m going to assume that people have come to reflect the nightly news; they’re not going to waste our time telling us about the good things that have happened. They’re just going to report the lurid details of the latest conflicts they’ve encountered.

With that in mind, I’m going to assume that the news we don’t hear – the good news – is so widespread that no one sees the need to tell us about it. Therefore, as I believed in my childhood innocence, it truly is a wonderful world. I know Louis Armstrong agreed with that assessment. If it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for me!

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