Here’s an idea that I think will improve society. Let’s re-define some terms that have been bogging us down for a while.
Employed/Employment. Why should we limit this expression to those that actually have jobs. We should include those that want to work or those that worked at least once. Most people don’t really want a job so why make a big deal about it? Let’s expand the definition beyond working and include recreation as well. In this modern, open-minded society we should not make those that are out of work feel like they need to find something to do that an employer will pay for. Let’s get rid of the stigma that comes with making a person a statistic as unemployed. No one should feel like they have to work to be a contributing member of society. There are enough workers out there to make up for those that can’t or that would just rather play.
Educated/Education. Long accepted as another block on the standard résumé, this term is passé and so twentieth century. Our minds have so much more potential then attending a bunch of classes, listening to hundreds of lectures and completing so many time-consuming assignments. If you want to be a doctor or a pilot. Go for it. If you are reasonable bright then you will pick it up without the tedium of years of chasing a degree or certificate. It should be illegal for an employer to ask someone to prove that they ever set foot in one of the “old fashioned” institutes of higher learning. It would be better to hire someone for his or her personality.
Wealthy/Wealth. Money should not determine privilege. It is time to zero out everyone’s accounts and burn all currency. Wouldn’t we all like to be able to wear the coolest sunglasses without worrying about a pesky price tag?
Married/Marriage. The narrow definition of “the legal union between a man and a woman” has run its course and must be expanded. Why not an “illegal union”? Or even a legal relationship where the 2 people don’t actually ever meet face-to-face. Why does it have to be a man and woman? Why not a man and his Xbox 360 or a woman and her own image in the mirror? THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX PEOPLE! Just because it normally takes a man and a woman to create a child doesn’t mean there is really anything special about that. It takes flour and water to make a tortilla but there isn’t a verb that is dedicated to or exclusive of that act. This may be the definition that has the most potential for redefinition.
Part 1 I don't always pick up hitch-hikers but I couldn't pass up this one. He was about the age of my 2nd son. He looked a little rough and needed a shower. I had a split second to decide as I was entering the freeway on-ramp after work. Banjo case, dog, backpack...OK I gotta do this. He looked a little surprised that I stopped my Camry to give a ride to man and dog. He threw his gear in the back and asked if his pit-bull, Abby, could sit on the floor between his legs in the front. My nose confirmed that he hadn't showered in awhile. He sported a few tattoos and a short haircut. He was polite and grateful for the ride. He had been waiting for a lift most of the day. I told him that I was only going 5 miles ahead to the edge of town and that there was nothing for the next 50 miles. In 5 miles I learned that he went by the name of Phoenix and like me he loved the outdoors. He had been on the Mississippi in a canoe for 3 weeks with the idea of paddling from Wisconsin to the Gulf. The weather and other factors made him ditch that idea. He had spent considerable time traveling the country; backpacking on the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. He had hopped trains with his dog and had stories of many friends along the way. I dropped him at a gas station at the edge of town. The sky darkened and the storms loomed in the sky. I drove home.
Part 2 I couldn't stop thinking that I should have done more for Phoenix and Abby. I had meetings to attend that night at the church. Judi had made a nice dinner of roast beef and mashed potatoes with gravy. She ate with me then left to take Dana to the church for activities. I decided to get excused from my meetings and change my plans for the night. I called Judi's cell and asked if it was OK to bring home a guest and his dog then rushed back to the gas station. He was still there with Abby and a cardboard sign advertising that he needed a ride to Baton Rouge. He did a double-take when I drove up; wondering why I was back. He was talking to his mom on a cell phone. I invited him to come to my house for a home-cooked meal, a shower and a bed. We have a spare room since our older kids moved out. I tod him that my dogs would get along with Abby and that I could get him back on the road in the morning. He was very appreciative and accept the offer. I told him that he may have to sing for his supper and hoped that he would play banjo for us later.
He turned out to be a respectable and decent guest with a big appetite. He accepted seconds of roast beef and potatoes. We even had some Blue Bell ice cream to top it off. He told some great stories of his travels and after enjoying a hot shower, played some wonderful "claw hammer" banjo for us.
It rained that night with lightening and thunder but we all slept pretty well. After breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast he showed me a stack of snapshots that looked like they had been through a flood. They were of people and trails and mountain lakes. Some of the photos were so stuck together that he didn't dare pull them apart. I gave him some canned sardines and granola bars which he found a place for in his backpack. Soon I had him back at the gas station, rested, fed, and ready for the road.
The next day he had left a message on my office answering machine. He said some words of thanks, let me know that he made it to his destination and told me he would pray for our family. I'm glad that I got to meet Phoenix and Abby. May our paths cross again.
If I were a bazillionaire I would hand out random rewards to strangers that show signs of being intrinsically good. I would slip a stack of rubber-banded twenties to the family that cleaned up after themselves at the movie theater. I would secretly pay off the car note for the man who returned his shopping cart to the proper area at the grocery store. I would slip a season pass to the symphony in the mailbox of the woman who, instead of saving a half row of seats with coats and programs, chose to sit further back with her late arriving guests. I would have a large flat screen tv delivered to the family at the church potluck who went to the back of the line instead of taking the "cuts" in line that they were offered by others. I would find a better job with a signing bonus for the Walmart cashier who managed to be friendly and offer a smile despite having worked a long shift. I would hire an attorney to help me anonymously pay off the credit card balances for the person who didn't honk at me when I was slow to notice that the light had changed. I would set up a scholarship for the young man who asks out the unpopular girl to help her self-esteem.
Alas, I am not wealthy enough to do any of the above without it hurting the family budget. These good people will have to settle for a word of praise, a smile and a prayer that they will all see rewards for their good deeds sooner than later.
First I will say that life is good. No, I'm not filthy rich or exceptionally wise. I don't have everything figured out and my life is not always rosy but the great scale seems to tip towards the positive and for that I am extremely grateful.
My oldest daughter called yesterday to announce she is expecting! At 50 it is about time I start in on being a grandpa. I have a lovely and kind wife. I have 4 terrific kids. My married kids have wonderful spouses. Our youngest will be with us for at least 6 more years before college and adulthood beckons. We live with furry clowns disguised as dogs. They provide unconditional love and entertainment. The cats live outside, pretending to like us yet always spying through the windows and making demands. They add some mystery and drama to our days.
The world around us is amazing. I am often dazzled by the sky and intrigued by the changes of weather. In my windowless office I day-dream of being outside feeling the breeze and the warmth of the sun. One Christmas we visited my parents in Hawaii. We slept on their screened patio listening to the ocean and breathing the salty air. It was better than any dream or drug.