No. 473



If you are least 50 years of age, when you see the condition the world is in today do you ever wish you could go back to a time when life was much simpler, and much safer. There was a time, right here in our country, when you could walk down the streets of our major cities alone, at night, and not have to fear for your safety. Even in the more recent past, there was a time when you did not have to get to the airport two hours early so they could search your luggage and your person and the vast majority of our citizens were honest and trustworthy. America is still the best place on earth to be, and to be from, but I believe any rational person would agree that the erosion of our traditional values has caused all of us in the older generation to wonder where we are headed as a nation.

These are just some of the thoughts that came to my mind a while back when I heard a wonderful gentleman by the name of Joe D. Ward, read something he had written titled, "If I Could Go Back." Several years ago he and some of his siblings and their families formed a musical group, called The Ward Family Singers, and they are good, really good. In fact, I have one of their CDs in my player at this very moment. The children of this family have deep spiritual roots, as their father Roy was a minister and their mother Mamie was a great influence in their lives as well. Like so many families back then, they didn't have much, but they had love and parents who taught character values by example. The old home place where they were reared came to be known affectionately as "Old House," and here are some of the things that Joe recalls from those days.

"What I would really like to do today is go back to the farm to Mother and Dad's house and this is what I would do. I would greet them as always, but this time it would be different. I would place my hands on their shoulders and look them straight in the eye so they could not fail to understand what I said. Then I would say, ÎI love you, I respect you and I appreciate the way you raised me. You taught me right from wrong, what a family is supposed to be, and what makes character in a person. You taught me that everyone's important, and Mom, you taught me not to be critical of people because there are things I don't know about which causes them to act the way they do. You taught me loyalty, responsibility, honor, integrity, and honesty, and you worked to build those character traits into my life.1 "To Mom I would say, ÎYou gave me your always-present optimistic attitude that no kind of circumstances could dampen, and also taught me to love the little wildflowers at the first of springtime.1 To Dad I would say, ÎYou taught me sportsmanship, the love of the outdoors, hunting and fishing, the thrill of finding game or catching fish and you also taught me the fun of simply being in the outdoors whether we found game or not. I can't name all the things you taught me, but the most important thing of all was that there is a God, that He loves me, and how to trust Him. You taught me by your faith how important it is in my life."

There is more, but, due to space limitations, I can't share it all. When I heard Joe Ward read this, it was along about the time the state of Florida was experiencing the hurricane season of 2004, the worst ever in the history of this state. Like millions of other people across our country, I was deeply saddened by the loss of life and the billions of dollars of property damage these hurricanes caused and the months or even years of disruption in people's lives. A disaster of this type always brings out the best in people, but sadly it also brings out the worst in some people as well. When thousands of people had to flee their homes and seek shelter in a more secure location, it was necessary for many of them to check into hotels and motels.

When the word came to me that many of these hotels and motels were jacking up rates three or four times what they normally charged, it just blew my mind. Do these people have no compassion for others? Do they never stop to think that someday the shoe could be on the other foot, and they could be the one who needs help? I hope you will keep this column and if you ever hear or know of anyone doing this, send it to them with my simple words, "Shame On You."

When I had time to think about what Joe Ward had said, obviously the people in our country who would rip others off, who steal, who take advantage of the misfortune of others, did not have parents who taught them values, real values like kindness, love and compassion. I was always taught, and you probably were too, that when people are down and out and hurting, you donÕt take advantage of them, you go the extra mile to help them.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)