Grace, Dignity, and Humility

The body of George H. W. Bush now lies between those of Barbara, his wife of 73 years, and their young daughter Robin, lost way too early to Leukemia. It is as it should be. If you don’t believe the three of them are back together, well, too bad. They are. Good for them. They deserve all the happiness the next world will provide.

After the last several days, is there anything more to be said? Maybe not, but I am going to give it a shot. George Bush was an amazing man. It is a shame it took his leaving us for some members of the media to finally step up and acknowledge his earthly accomplishments. Jon Meacham, the historian and Presidential biographer, spoke eloquently at Barbara Bush’s funeral and then this week at President Bush’s service at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.. During his eulogy on Wednesday, he referred to GHWB as a “founding father of the 20th century”. How perfect. We stand in awe of the contributions to our beginnings as a democratic republic made by the likes of Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Washington and others. (The list is longer, but the more I go on, the better the chance of missing out on someone, and then that person’s fan club will take umbrage!) I, for one, stand equally in awe of what George Bush, this kinder, gentler man,  did for his country over the span of more than 70 years. He remains the single most qualified man to ever be President. Ever. 

What I will not do is repeat the list of his contributions to our great country. If you do not by now know them, you have been hiding in Siberia! What I will do is share how I have tried to reduce his life to something manageable. In today’s parlance, we would call it a soundbite. George Bush believed in winning with humility and losing with grace. George Bush never forgot his priorities. His family came first, and his friends came very closely behind. I remember decades ago when he was taking shots for keeping Dan Quayle on the ticket for his 1992 re-election campaign. He looked at a mob of reporters, and was clearly weary of answering the same old questions. Finally, he simply said, “Loyalty is not a character flaw”. Perfect. Beautiful. Succinct. True. To those who did not understand why loyalty is not a character flaw, he did not try to explain. It was their loss. 

George Bush imbued senses of loyalty, love, compassion, humility, dignity, and grace in his children. The close of George W. Bush’s eulogy this week is all you need to see to comprehend the deep love he and his siblings had for their dad. Click here to review this short clip. And my reference to the close friends not being far behind the President’s family? Well, take a look at former Secretary of State Jim Baker’s words spoken yesterday in Houston. Click here for that. This is his entire 10 minute eulogy. If you watched yesterday, do yourself a favor and just fast forward to the last 40 seconds. It is all you need to know about the love between these two great friends. if you did not see Secretary Baker’s comments, I suggest you take a 10 minute break, watch him, and then return to finish this article.

For just a few days, America came together to remember a great man. It begets the question, will we ever, ever see another person of George Bush’s character and capability enter the fray and serve our country? In short, I do not know. We have become a fractured people. There are millions of Americans who do not appear to value the very characteristics I am extolling today. That is a shame, and it is risk to our country. 

Let us rejoice in this wonderful man’s life, and let us pray we find a way through these dark, partisan times, and recommit ourselves to supporting true public servants. Let us celebrate grace, dignity, and humility. 

Rest in peace, George H. W. Bush. You were a great man.

More to follow-

Service

Every child in the US needs to work a year for his or her government. We need to mandate this rule, and we need to do it fast. This is not a partisan issue. This is about restoring faith in our country. This is about helping at least two generations of Americans understand that we are by far and away the least imperfect form of government in the world. We are a noble experiment, warts and all. This is an amazing country, but it is being ripped apart. A year of service would help us regain our footing. Now, for a little background-

Division is not new to citizens of the United States. Perhaps the one common denominator since the inception of these United States has been constant disagreement between diverse factions about how we should run these United States! It didn’t take long for Jefferson and his minions to turn on Washington and Hamilton soon after Washington took office as our first President. Thus began the battle over states’ rights that continues to this day. Then of course there was that small conflagration some remember as the Civil War and others recall as the War of Northern Aggression. Either way, it was a pivotal divide that only years of bloodshed and decades of trauma slowly healed. We witnessed the baby boomers protesting all life as they knew it in the 1960’s. The Vietnam War may have been the trigger, but the antipathy toward anything deemed “traditional” dominated their thoughts and actions. The country was very divided. 

The liberals would disagree, but a review of US history since WWII would validate the premise that we finally entered a period of relative calm shortly after Ronald Reagan took office. In fact, we experienced nearly twelve years of that relative calm during the Reagan-Bush years. Alas, all good things come to an end. The Clinton administration inherited a resurgent Bush economy and rode through eight years of economic growth, but something happened. Partisan divide was rediscovered, and the quest to take Bill Clinton down became more important than the mission of bipartisan leadership to drive America forward. And the beat goes on. Since Bill Clinton was President, every administration has faced an opposition party more interested in destroying the President than in running the country. 

The left’s quest to destroy Donald Trump has set new lows on a bar that had already been lowered to the ground. Let me be clear for the umpteenth time; I do not like Donald Trump. That does not mean, however, that I can abide by the constant onslaught from the main stream media (MSM) and political left. Theirs is a false narrative. It is a endless attack based mostly on innuendo or contrived data. It is actually shameful. Let me be clear for the umpteenth plus one time; I don’t like the President’s petty tweets, and I know he too stretches the truth to serve his purpose. And I am happy to call him on it. The difference is that the left and MSM will never call themselves out on their endless drivel. 

We are witnessing the dumbing down of America. Our day to day lives are one big reality tv show. We can’t go anywhere to watch an unfettered, unbiased report of the daily news. The editors decide what news to report and the decision is decided by the network’s political agenda. To that end, the President’s Twitter activity is genius. He has circumvented the media, knowing that more than nine out of ten times that his name is mentioned by the MSM the viewer’s inference will be negative. 

One of the unfortunate byproducts of the partisan divide we have experienced since the early Clinton years is that we have two generations of young Americans (the Millennials and those right behind them) who have never seen their government function properly. All they have ever known is ineffective, bickering, petty government practicing inaction. They have grown up in a cynical, skeptical world, with little reason to have faith, confidence, or trust in any public servant. To them, WWII is ancient history. The Holocaust  is something that may or may not have happened. After all, there are leaders in the world who say it didn’t occur. They did not live to experience the atrocities and murders perpetrated upon their own people by the likes of Stalin and Mao, all in the name of a superior socialist state.

Socialism sounds great, and when a folksy senator from Vermont talks about everything being free, well, what’s wrong with that? When another senator from Massachusetts (who claims to be 1/16th Native American) preaches the evils of capitalism, it sure does make those who actually drive the engine of the US economy sound pretty evil, doesn’t it? Did you know more US citizens  under thirty years of age now think socialism is a better baseline for living than capitalism? What on earth hath we wrought?

Today’s title is “Service”. I don’t mean everyone has to put on a uniform and jump out of airplanes. Service means the Peace Corps, working in inner cities, libraries, schools, the military, you name it. Kids from all socio-economic strata do not know how special this country is. Millions of young Americans have actually been indoctrinated to believe we are not a special country. A year of service would help kids understand the United States and its role in the world. It would be a gap year; age 18. Every American kid is paid to serve his or her country for one year. Then it is off to college or vocational school, or straight to work. There are no losers. The millions who have never had to work or contribute to society because they are economically well off will benefit from a dose of reality. On the other side of the spectrum, the millions who have never worked because they live in an underclass that is artificially propped up by an entitlement state will also experience first hand the joy of contributing to a greater good while actually being paid to do so.

In short, by instilling a sense of service and working for something bigger than oneself will help us rebuild the bedrock that drove our unique national spirit for centuries. We are a nation of people who always served when called and always volunteered without being called. We are not that nation anymore. Let’s get the politicians off their partisan benches and agree together that we can steer the mighty ship of state back on course. Let’s do our younger and future generations a huge favor by invoking the mantra of the late John Kennedy. “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” (click here for clip) Surely we can all agree that is transcends political lines and would be a great step forward for the United States. Yes?

More to follow-

 

Philanthropy Is An American Tradition

Benjamin Franklin | A Founding Philanthropist

Benjamin Franklin | A Founding Philanthropist

Philanthropy in the United States is as American as apple pie. As a people, we give more of our money to charitable causes than any other citizens in the world.

I was prompted to write about this topic by a note I saw on Facebook. I am Chairman of I Am Waters, a wholly non-political 501© 3 Foundation committed to providing physical and spiritual hydration to America’s homeless population. We recently held a successful fundraiser in Houston, Texas. In discussing the success of the event, I made the comment that we have a growing homeless population in the United States, and I Am Waters is committed to working with and helping this “underclass” of our society. One comment (in reference to our growing homeless population) posted after my observations was “Thanks to the Republicans”.

After shaking my head, and deciding to ignore the comment, I started thinking, “how can people be so misinformed?” This comment was offensive on at least two levels. It:

  • politicized a wholly non-political charitable foundation, and
  • explicitly (and groundlessly) blamed Republicans for our homeless population.

Do these people ever stop and wonder why the 10 cities in the United States with the highest level of poverty and unemployment are cities with a legacy of democrat mayors and entitlement spending that have done nothing but encourage indigence and cultures of unfulfilled expectations? George W. Bush called it the “soft bigotry of low expectations”, and he was spot on.

I write about the historical connectivity between private sector success and philanthropy because it is clear many people today have not the slightest inkling of how the United States of America became such an incredibly exceptional nation. The lack of understanding and appreciation for the work ethic and philanthropic mentality that helped us grow yesterday is part of the reason we are so challenged by such destructive social and economic redistributionist policies today.

The art of giving is not a new phenomenon. Benjamin Franklin epitomized the charitable nature of our founding fathers. Alexis de Tocqueville, when writing his book on the uniqueness of the American experiment, noted that ours was a nation that believed in creating opportunity for the private citizen to succeed; partially so that citizen (not the government) could initiate “private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of life”.

Indeed, until the last few decades, it was implicitly understood that if one were to achieve success in life, it was incumbent upon that person to find a way to give some of that success back to the greater good. This was an intrinsic American way of life, born of our pioneering colonial “can-do” attitude, and infused with and by a strong Judeo-Christian ethic. While many choose to remember George H.W. Bush’s “no new taxes” pledge in the 1988 Republican Convention in New Orleans, many also remember his call to all Americans to give of themselves to others, and for each to become one of a “1000 points of light”.

Somewhere along the way in the madness of our inexorable post WWII rush to political correctness, we lost the thread of connectivity between success and philanthropy. The progressive left began to disconnect the historical association between living the American dream and voluntarily giving back. Worse, these liberals (those who denounce our history [the way we grew into ourselves] in the 17th-19th centuries, and view virtually all past events in apologetic terms) began to build and perpetuate a new reality; namely, that success is evil, and private sector philanthropy should be largely replaced by something mandated by the federal government.

In essence, while the democrats still talk about philanthropy, (and many democrat citizens still give large amounts of money to worthy causes) the reality is that the democrat party believes in forced philanthropy though taxation, with the end game being one in which our successful producers are diminished by way of their accumulated capital being involuntarily redistributed to those less successful.

History matters! And to that person who thought to politicize the good work of I Am Waters, I implore you to look at the homeless populations and poverty levels of every government in the recorded annals of man that tried to socialize its industry, commerce, and engines of societal production.

Whenever it has been the goal of government to create equality of outcome for its people, there has been failure. Our unprecedented success and growth as a fledgling nation was, in large part, due to:

  • access to property, and
  • a governing philosophy that was driven by a desire to create equality of opportunity. By so doing, our founding fathers and those who followed in their footsteps ensured that a man’s work ethic and a burgeoning private sector economy lifted the spirits and livelihoods of far more people than ever possible in a redistributionist state.

The left refuses to acknowledge that employment and hope cannot be created by the whims of social progressive politicians. Long-term jobs are only sustained by the private sector. And only with jobs and a viable economic outlook will philanthropy thrive.

Ronald Reagan understood the importance of our history. You may see him say it for himself here:

Old Things Are Best

Dad - Opine Needles
And so it came to pass in end of the fifth year of the reign of the man known as Obama. There remained much to debate as to what exactly had come to pass. Forsooth, the people were much disillusioned. So many had heralded his arrival as “that” arrival millions believed was imminent. Alas, the citizens were in disarray, for it had ensued that the savior had yet to pick the time for his return, and the man known as Obama was no longer confused with HIS only begotten son.

On matters more earthly, the elderly amongst the people used the time of year to give thanks for the things that matter; their families, their faith, and their good fortune. The frivolity of their youths were held in check by the reality of their latter day experiences; their senses of responsibility, morality, and decency had been honed through the fog of the twists and turns on their respective roads of life.

There was one who was mystified by all that made his present world turn. Lost seemed to be the things that really matter. He reflected on those things he could not control, and settled on seeking contentment on matters that had been or still were in his realm.

So as Christmas drew nigh, he thought of his departed father, who once wrote words for a magazine; words that are timeless, and special, and powerful. Those words were:

Old things are better than new things. They may not perform better, but they are nicer to own; they are friends. My Randall knife, while not my oldest, is a prized possession, not for any monetary value that it might have-but because we’ve done a lot of fun things together in the past 30 years.

My oldest knife was “requisitioned” from the arms chest of the Tacloban Shore Patrol during WWII. Six months ago, I gave it a new handle of leather rings. It, too, provides memories.

I have two pairs of old leather bird boots, which date back to when they cost $18.00 to $20.00; big money then. Believe it or not, I still have fond memories of my first pair which were bought before the war, and carried me into the fifties. They were prime examples of what a cobbler could do if he really cared about old and good boots. They were from L.L. Bean, as is one of my current pairs.

Old wool deer pants are better than new ones only because you can look at the various repairs and bring back memories.

Old deer hunting friends are better than new ones. They took the test of time and passed. Old deer hunters are better than young ones. They know more and their hearts and legs make them move more slowly.

Old rifles are better than new ones, and, in the area, I must personalize the statement, for I have only had my current “old” rifle for one season. It’s a custom-stocked .308 built on a Sako action. The bluing has worn off due to it having been in and out of countless scabbards.

It previously belonged to Warren Page marksman, hunter, and Field & Stream writer. I’d like to think that it was one of his favorites because of its worn condition. It weights under seven pounds, with sling and scope. I can’t tell you all the places it has been, or the stalks or excitement it has witnessed.

However, I can tell you that on my back it has gone to four different states and accounted for three whitetail bucks. In time it will earn a place alongside my Randall as a source of retrospective good memories.

Old hats are better than new hats and everybody knows that. I brought mine home from the Pacific. Its previous owner, an Australian, gave it to me after punching me in the nose. I had, in company with an MP, walked into a bar and immediately found myself on the floor-for no particular reason other than being an American with a Shore Patrol band on my arm.

My old Aussie hat bears the inscription “Denham & Horgrove Ltd. Atherstone, 1943″ on the band. The felt is about 1/4” thick, and the brim keeps the rain off my glasses and the snow from going down my neck. Other than being practical and irreplaceable, it’s a best hat because it is old.

I have lot’s of good old things; old compasses, shirts, and two mended pairs of my father’s long red underwear. All these things give me warmth and comfort.

Someday you will get older and you, too, will be a best thing.

And he felt better just for reading the words again, and even better by taking the time to type them into his next blog. For he knew at that moment that no matter how absurd were the events in and of his world, no one could take away the words he had revisited, and more importantly, the hat he now wore.

Jim Pierce - Dad's Hat - Old Things Are Best - Opine Needles