Statues Are Not The Problem

 

When we can’t solve personal problems, we go after impersonal ones. If people can’t fix the gang problem, drug abuse, drug trafficking, fatherless homes, the high school drop-out rate, street violence, criminality, and a completely shattered moral compass, they’ll just go beat up people and tear down a statue instead. That’s a lot easier, and may also be an outlet for the rage they feel over all those other, bigger, unsolved, chronic problems.

Has a statue of anyone ever stepped down off a podium to mess up anyone’s life? No, we do that all by ourselves.

I’m no fan of the confederacy, of course, and I wish slavery never would have happened in America, but  I keep in mind that America is the only country that ever fought a war, in large part, to abolish it at the cost of many lives. I remind myself that a lot of white people died in that war. I also remind myself that slavery existed in most other countries of the world at one time or another, and still does today in quite a few. I remind myself that slavery existed in Africa long before whites ever showed up. It didn’t start with us. But we ended it with a Civil War at the cost of 620,000 lives.

So as I watch people tear down statues, I wonder if they ever stop to think that – instead of trying to erase history – it might be wiser to take that energy and fight to add another little plaque at the feet of those statues that will teach children the Confederacy lost, that slavery lost, that hatred lost. That’s something to be proud of, and unique in world history. It’s true that forgetting history condemns us to repeat it. And destroying statues is what Islamic terrorists do. 

If America were a person with a voice, she would be able to say, “Yeah, I had some major problems, but I fixed them. It wasn’t easy, but I’m okay now. Not perfect, but a whole lot better than I was.”

How many of the people currently trying to destroy the evidence of America’s problems of the past can say the same about themselves?

Personally, I’d rather have a visual tool to teach my kids that the good guys won, let them see what a bad guy looks like, and have another reason to be proud of America for all she has overcome. I’d rather stand at the foot of that statue and smile, knowing evil lost.

The irony is that if every person on earth would get their own house in order, all societal problems would cease immediately. But “becoming the change we want to see in the world” is hard so, instead, as an outlet for all the frustration and rage people feel for not being able to change themselves, they just go out and smash something, or someone. Being paid by a political party to cause mayhem and division makes them not only fools, but pawns, too. 

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We can be better than this. We can be smarter than this. We can fight fascism without becoming fascists. We can embrace our past and learn the hard lessons it taught, or destroy it all and guarantee that future generations will forget and repeat it. 

 

New Publishing

Please look for my story He Wouldn’t Hurt a Fly in this book in all major booksellers on and offline in early August. This will be my 16th story in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. I’m always proud to contribute to their wholesome and inspirational books! Royalties from this book go to the American-Human Society!

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Paradise Almost Lost

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Do you ever feel like our parents and/or grandparents got the best of America? Open any American magazine before 1965 and you’ll see people who dressed impeccably, had haircuts that actually improved their appearance, and generally looked terrific. Now people wear shorts and sandals to the opera.

Imagine what it feels like to walk through any neighborhood at night without worry. To know you can take your children to a movie and not be dive-bombed by inappropriate content or veiled political messages. To be able to trust other people. To feel comfortable in your body just as it is without feeling compelled to go to the gym every day. Men were “wimps” and women were fat by today’s standards (that was the ideal, actually) and everyone was happier.

Imagine what it feels like to make enough money at a normal job to pay for a house and car. To drive a car that’s more like a UFO. To listen to music that didn’t need mature audience warning labels. To live in a world where being a thug is shameful, not something to be proud of. A world where modesty was still a virtue. (Jayne Mansfield showed her boobs in a movie in a desperate attempt to revive her career and she was shunned. It ended her career forever.)

I suppose we needed to loosen up a bit, and the music and movies were so clean largely because of censorship, but it seems we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater. It depends on who you ask, but even with the things that needed to improve in America like race relations (and did), I’d happily go back just so I could go two full days without hearing about a carjacking or gang shooting.

MUSCLE BEACH PARTY (1964) Annette

 

I’m probably more nostalgic than most, especially about California, because I lived part of the 60’s, the tail end of a period of grace. The guy on the left in the photo above (Bill Cunningham) was my dad’s best friend. My parents, brother and I visited him and his wife and three kids or they us every other weekend for most of my childhood. He influenced me to stay in shape and honor my health. He was a bodybuilder in a sea of other Irish immigrant males who smoked, drank and had horrible diets. He always had a joke at the ready and helped me take life less seriously. He greeted me enthusiastically and made me feel special, even though I was just a kid. He also made me interested in Frankie and Annette movies. 

Watching those old movies today, they seem like pure fantasy, but for the late 50’s and early 60’s in California, they were the reality most surfers knew. California was still a mostly undeveloped paradise, and if a surfer saw another surfer pass him on Pacific Coast Highway, they probably knew each other. I was a very observant child (probably why I became a writer) and absorbed that culture – the happy energy of the beach, the parties with Sinatra, Sammy and Dean playing in the background, my parents and their friends laughing with strange, brightly-colored cocktails in their hands, cars like Hot Wheels in a caravan to Palm Springs swimming pools, kind adults who seemed happier than I perceive adults to be today, and flower children determined to change the world with peace and love. I know nothing gold can stay, but I never expected it all to be washed away so completely either. 

So what do we do? The best answer, as the old saying goes, is to “become the change you want to see in the world.” There’s no going back, but we can bring it back with our attitude and become the kind of person others say “they don’t make ’em like him anymore” about. I feel like I do that most of the time, but I sure wish I didn’t have to share air with the monsters this society seems to be churning out. Those noble men in WWI and WWII didn’t die to create a better America just so I/we could hand it over to trash. So I’ll continue to be wholesome, but I’ve got a black belt to go with it and am working on a second one (Krav Maga) so if a monster makes its way into my wholesome world, trying to hurt me or some other wholesome person, God help him. I’m old school that way, too. I will get involved. I love peace, and innocent life, and I will kill to protect them both. We can no longer afford to keep our heads in the sand. Paradise must be protected.

Sorry to end this on such a sour note, but I just read another story about a carjacking. A daily occurrence in Los Angeles, but this time a six-year old boy was in the back of the car, and the car was found with him inside, shot to death. I probably shouldn’t write when my heart is so heavy. A line from one of my favorite movies, Tombstone, comes to mind. The bad guys attacked a house full of women and ambushed Virgil. Morgan says to Wyatt, “They’re bugs, Wyatt. There ain’t no living with bugs.” Nothing has changed except firepower and tolerance.

New Book Release: Chicken Soup for the Soul – The Spirit of America

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America

My story “The Sixty-Year Old Little Girl” is in this new book – Chicken Soup for the Soul book – The Spirit of America, available now at Walmart, Barnes and Noble and online.

I have contributed to twenty Chicken Soup for the Soul titles now and am always proud to do so because of the positivity, inspiration and light they bring to a world that sometimes seems to grow more negative every day. This election is a perfect example. It’s not so much about the politicians. They’ve always been ruthless. What disturbs me more is the Americans becoming violent with each other for having differences of opinion rather than discussing it, even if that means yelling at each other. So at this time more than any other, I’m proud to be part of something that can help bring Americans together. Here is the official press release from Chicken Soup for the Soul headquarters:

This book focuses on what unites us, not what divides us. When Chicken Soup for the Soul’s author, editor-in-chief and publisher Amy Newmark decided to collect stories for a book about the spirit of America more than a year ago, she never anticipated how much we, as a nation, would need this book. “I knew that we would need an antidote to all the negativity that always arises during a presidential election year, but I had no idea it would get this bad,” she said. “We recognize there are significant problems that need to be addressed, but we do live in a wonderful country. We can forget that sometimes amid all the emotions of the election process. 

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America is our chicken soup for our fellow Americans—a reminder of why we are all so passionate about what we believe is best for our country. I hope this collection of 101 stories about everything American will help to unite us, not divide us.”

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America takes us on a journey across our beautiful nation, meeting our veterans, active service members and their families; revisiting the patriotism and unity of 9/11; showing us the ingenuity and positive attitude that we’re known for; displaying the diversity of our geography and our people; relating stories about our favorite American traditions; and introducing us to proud new citizens who remind us how lucky we are to live here—with our freedom to advance, to move, and to express ourselves. There’s even a whole chapter on the American flag, with inspiring stories about how much the red, white and blue means to us, right in time for Flag Day on June 14th.

“As we do often, we are using this book to raise money for a worthy cause – and one that is very relevant to its subject matter – the Bob Woodruff Foundation and its Stand Up for Heroes fundraising program,” said William J. Rouhana, Jr., chief executive officer of Chicken Soup for the Soul. “This is the second time that we have earmarked royalties from one of our books to raise funds for the Bob Woodruff Foundation to support their work with post–9/11 injured service members, veterans and their families.”

The book’s foreword writer Lee Woodruff, who is married to broadcaster Bob Woodruff, says, “The people you meet in these pages, and the tales they tell, will remind you why we are the most fortunate people in the world—Americans.” She talks about her particular passion—the military—in the foreword. After her husband was wounded while embedded as a reporter with the Army in Iraq, Lee saw our military at its best, saving her husband’s life. And she and Bob have given back in a major way, founding the Bob Woodruff Foundation to support programs that provide health and social services for veterans.

ABOUT CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL
Chicken Soup for the Soul, the world’s favorite and most recognized storyteller, publishes the famous Chicken Soup for the Soulbook series. With well over 100 million books sold to date in the U.S. and Canada alone, more than 250 titles, and translations into more than 40 languages, “chicken soup for the soul” is one of the world’s best-known phrases and is regularly referenced in pop culture. Today, 23 years after it first began sharing happiness, inspiration and hope through its books, this socially conscious company continues to publish a new title a month, but has also evolved beyond the bookstore with super premium pet food, television shows and movies, and a variety of other digital content and licensed products, all inspired by stories, as it continues “changing the world one story at a time®.”

To receive a review copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America or to request an interview, please contact Tanya Taylor Miciak at 615.254.9389 or tanya@triple7pr.com

CONTACT: Tanya Taylor Miciak 615.254.9389