With all the nonsense going on with the selection of our next president i started thinking about the people who influenced me in my youth when we didn’t have twitter or snapchat, hell we didn’t even have cell phones.
These men all left an indelible mark in who I am today. I realize they are all men but in my defense I was left fatherless as I became a teenager so, maybe, it was me looking for male role models.
My most vivid memories are of Bobby Kennedy’s presidential run. As an 11-year-old I would actually sit and listen to his speeches on tv. He instilled a sense of greater purpose in life and having tolerance for those who may not be exactly like me. That summer of 68 was a jarring one for me. I also saw my heroes Kennedy and Martin Luther King, who taught me a sense of fairness for equal rights, assassinated for their beliefs. Kennedy in my hometown!
On a lighter note I enjoyed watching the Andy Griffith Show. The life lessons in Mayberry were about common sense. We all know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is… well just wrong. As the son of immigrant parents it also created this idealize simple American way of life. I know it’s a Hollywood creation that may or may not have existed but if my town could just be a little like that it wouldn’t be so bad.
Living in Southern California the presence of Mexican culture was everywhere but homogenized in my town I thought. My best friend was Mexican but we were a new development and mostly middle-class blue collar. It seemed like most of the Mexicans i knew wanted to assimilate into the American way of life…whatever they thought that should be.
It wasn’t until Cesar Chavez came along fighting for the rights of farmworkers that I realized that this group of new immigrants, much like my mom and dad, were being exploited to put food in our markets. It was then that i realized that the price of nice things sometimes comes at a much higher price than just dollars.
I think it was then that I first realized I was a liberal, at least on social issues. Ralph Nader exposed corporations showing in detail how their bottom line was always more important that doing the right thing for he consumer.
But, then Jimmy Carter came along and made me realize that i shouldn’t follow blindly an ideology. He was a great man with a great moral compass but somehow things seemed to get screwed up under his watch. That opened the door for Ronald Reagan who made me realize that we all hold our destiny. I was in the Navy at he time and he really paid attention to our needs, rebuilding our military and honoring our service. We can argue back and forth about the bad and the good of Reagan but all I know is that I felt safe, proud and full of optimism. He had a common sense approach that every man could relate to. I’ve always loved America but he made it cool to show it.
So here we are 20 some odd years later. Our country seems so segregated so unwavering in whatever one stands for that we’ve lost our sense of a country, lost our sense of purpose. We have a bigot blowhard representing a major party and an overambitious career politician who’s been preparing for this all her life as our choices for the next president. Our children are influenced by social media stars like Kim Kardashian are obsessed with “selfies” and can’t understand why they can’t be CEO after working a couple of months on the job. We freak out if our children have to pledge allegiance under God or or president but also if we talk to them about evolution or other religions. We hold on to the constitution to allow people on a terrorist watch list to buy assault weapons but don’t flinch when a presidential candidate bars certain press from being in the room.
Common sense ain’t common.
– Will Rogers