I was either blessed or cursed in having a childhood surrounded by heroes. There was my dad, a stand up guy by any standard. Add to him my great grandfather Lude Kirkland, who understood life and politics like few ever will. There where influences like Tom Moore, who fought polio and had a great life, war heroes like my grandpa, and Frank Garrett , who taught me how to treat people who worked for you, and Bill Ashley, who was a Marine in the Pacific islands who I hauled hay for. Add to them the late Carroll Smith. There is the late Dr. John C. Taylor, who was a professional mentor. Those men were a walking John Wayne movie. Their values were simple. A man should do his best, he should not complain, he should not have his beliefs bought, and he should always stand for what is right. I was raised among those who stood tall for American values. I was taught to be respectful of those who deserved it, thank those who helped me, and make the right call, especially when that call affected other people’s lives. There were other simple things, like being respectful to the dead and to widows and remembering to have mercy as God has mercy upon me.
The problem is at age 38, I seem, especially when it comes to politics, a man that time has passed by. Being decent and paying common respect is no longer part of today’s politics. Being a stand up guy is laughed at as being naïve. Not being bought and paid for to espouse a political opinion makes one not a real player in today’s political game. The news media types and the professional politicos will not take someone seriously until they know what faction is paying the person to espouse his or her opinion.
It is part of what America is now. The Left with Obama pays big money and does their best to make out manhood as something wrong. It would be better to be metrosexual in their eyes. Sanford and his crowd get paid to espouse their issues. Neither side has likely spent one moment in a living room in South Carolina. A man with any sense of honor and respect for himself finds it hard to be a part of either side. Both sides are filled with men and women who don’t know honor and have no respect for the old American values.
They do not know what it is like to have fought and killed in a war. They do not know the simple honor of doing a job right or growing a garden. They have no idea what the folks in Bamberg or Belton think in their living rooms. They do not care to know. They have never said no to money for what they thought was right. Yet, the paid political operatives on both sides try to tell us how to live. Forgive me if I quote the late Lewis Grizzard and call them a bunch of piss ants.
I realize I am not a great man or political power. But, I was surrounded by great men growing up and I sat in hundreds of livings throughout South Carolina. I have seen the best of South Carolina and the worst. There was the living room I sat in that had a sliver star for valor displayed. There was the living room that showed the graduation picture of the family’s first high school graduate. I could go on.
Growing up among those I did, and seeing the state like I did, the values espoused by John Wayne in his movies make sense. That is how it ought to be done. But, unfortunately, those of us who try to live like John Wayne now live in a world of piss ants, on the right and the left.