Time to Unite America based upon Sound Values

Cultural Division……Can’t we All Just Get Along? 

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It seems that there are so many emotional push button issues that divide our culture these days. 

If you want an emotional and sometimes heated argument that can destroy relationships just bring up one or more of them. 

  1. Abortion
  2. Welfare, Food Stamps
  3. Medicare, Medicaid
  4. Healthcare for all
  5. Balancing the budget
  6. Defense spending
  7. Education for imprisoned
  8. Mixing church and state
  9. Gay, lesbian rights vs. straight rights
  10. Clean renewable energy vs. Oil, Gas and Coal
  11. Gun Control laws (should we keep assault weapons out of the hands of mentally ill people or felons?)

 A couple of years ago I was at a weekend hunter’s retreat in Central Texas. We had the best of lodging, entertainment, a private cook, private guides and it was an “elite” group. There was a young man there driving a Toyota Prius, and everyone else had big pick ups, or 4 wheel drive van/sedans, so he got a lot of “kidding”. Now most of the people there were very financially successful, some from gas and oil drilling, but most were of a most “conservative” bent.   At the time, I owned a company that distributed Wind Turbines and Solar Water Heating systems, so I, and the Prius driver got “pinged” with a lot of questions. I felt a little sorry for the Prius guy and so in good will said: “I have heard that it is a good car, and know you must be pleased with the mileage.” He turned red in the face and in front of the entire group said: “You guys that sell wind turbines are just ‘using’ the system. The concept does not work unless you get tax breaks and so it is just another welfare system.   I hope that we discover more natural gas, and energy goes down so much that you guys all go out of business. I don’t like you, I don’t like the concept and frankly we don’t need you.”  

Honestly I was stunned. I said: “Sir, in all due respect in the USA every man has the right to be wrong. If you wish to look at tax breaks no industry has more than the oil and gas industry. That is how the government gives incentive for economic development. You have the right to be wrong and qualify in that regard.”

What amazed me is how hostile he was.  How little respect he had for me. How there was no feeling that he felt like we were mutual citizens trying in our own ways to help the nation.  His attitude and intolerant spirit  seems to represent that of so many people, on issues of our culture and too many people in our world are willing to destroy personal, business, political and spiritual relationships  just because of poor, unenlightened attitudes.

I recall some years ago we had a group of business leaders of Fort Worth, Texas who met every Tuesday, to talk politics and issues. Someone brought up an issue of being “gay or straight” and the leader said clearly: “About 20% of the men in this organization are gay. It makes no difference; they are good men and business leaders. It is not an issue.”   And for 25 years it was not an issue. Matters such as this were considered opinions, but not worthy of division or destruction. The gay issue, liberal, abortion, health care, Medicare, Defense Spending, Church and State, Gun Control,  on an on, until about 7 years ago, when a few "rigid" folks decided that they needed to dominate and take over control of the meetings.  When they became vocal, suddenly divisions, arguments, shouting, and open hostility dominated the meetings. We  could barely hold meetings without people insulting others, judging others, yelling, cursing, or calling people down. We literally had to leave the Club and start meeting at another Country Club, to escape the “hard cases” that had determined that if they could not dominate every meeting with their particular point of view or issue, that they would disrupt every meeting.  And sure enough, when there was no one to argue with, they dissolved, and their now "little" group, died.  That's how it is with negative folk, they tend to kill relationships. 

Alas, it sounds like the cultural divide of our nation today, from Main Street to Washington, D.C.!

I recall stories of my Great Grandmother cooking breakfast in the kitchen for her sons and daughters, as they generally ate breakfast and talked business before heading out to the farm. In those days, they had workers who were illegal aliens, others were some were staying in chairty homes, some had been to prison, some were Democrats others Republicans. They all got along. The ethos of the day, as exemplified by my Great Grandmother, the matriarch of the farm and ranch, was: “Respect every man for who he is, respect his beliefs, and be polite when you discuss matters of personal interest.”   And we did. It worked. 

Grandfather had a ranch and one day us kids got cross ways with the ranch foreman because he cussed at us and we knew that he didn't go to church often, and when he did go, his was a "different" one.  Indeed, we learned, he didn't even vote for the same man for president that our family supported.  Then we learned that he was an athiest.  We had never known an athiest, but we knew they must be something bad.  So we went to grandpa, giping, as kids will do, trying to get him fired. Grandpa said: “That foreman is my man, to run our ranch. You don’t have to like his politics or religion, or his personal opinions but you do have to respect him because he is our foreman.  He is doing a good job for the ranch,  and there is integrity in work done honestly and well.  Just because you don't like his beliefs you still need to respect him, and show tolerance for his personal viewpoints.“ Even as kids we got it. As time went on we noticed how hard the foreman worked to make our ranch, our family a profit and we gained a respect for him, even though we didn’t like some of his personal life preferences. As we became older, some of us began to think that he was right about a lot of things, especially when the preacher  of OUR church ran off with another fellow's wife.  We noticed that when someone got into trouble or had a great loss, that our foreman (the man who grumbled and cussed a lot)  as ususally on the spot helping them out, long before anyone else. His life taught us something about not judging and personal integrity. 

Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of RepresentativesThe great Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn carried the legislative agenda for several presidents, of both parties.  He was a man of principled integrity.  He once said:


Of course, if we believe in the Statue of Liberty, and the values of America, the land of opportunity, we must believe in a land with a "table" always big enough for "one more". 

In my father’s FIVE AND DIME variety store, in White Settlement, Texas, we had every kind of person you can imagine walk in that store. It was a family enterprise, and not unusual for my dad, mom, brother and I all to be in the store working together.  My dad taught us that:

  1. "The customer is always right. Always attend to his questions, inquiries and reasonable requests with fair consideration."
  2. "Always speak to a customer with respect, politely and address a customer as Sir or Mam."  "Why?" I asked.  "Because they pay our bills and put food in your mouth." Dad said. 
  3. He taught that customer’s personal life, religion, politics, or economic philosophies are his beliefs. "Listen and be polite, you might learn something." Dad told us. 

When Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the House of Representatives during the Eisenhower Administration was challenged on a controversial political issue, and people wanted to get active in politics, who had far more liberal ideas than he had, he wisely said. "A Democracy is open to a variety of opinions. Come one, come all, and we will decide at the polls, that is called Democracy".

“My grand-mother used to have a lot of hobo’s because our house was near the rail road track.   Word got around that her house was a generous house.  At nearly every meal, she had a stranger eating with her. She taught by her actions, respect, kindness, charity and a large dose of good manners.  Would you rather be the house that has a dinner table big enough for everyone, or a locked door, selfish and indifferent.   You see Grandmother, and Sam Rayburn were of the same ethical philosophy, and it was a philosphy that did not allow, "Us vs Them".....  It suggested that we share a common humanity. 

 Now allowing people to sit at your table is a sign of respect, trust, kindness, generosity, and charity. It means we don’t all have to agree, but we will respect the opinions of others, and with kindness tolerate the idiosyncrasies of everyone, in a polite manner.

 That makes more sense that much of what we are seeing and hearing today. People yelling, imposing their opinions, and giving no room for anyone to disagree, unless they wish to be disrespected and attacked. Somehow, as a nation, we need an Emily Post, of political rhetoric, to reteach a new generation, how to behave.

 The union of our Republic, and our Democracy may depend upon it.