Author Topic: HILLBILLY VIEWS: The Family of Man  (Read 1380 times)

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HILLBILLY VIEWS: The Family of Man
« on: October 22, 2009, 07:05:08 am »
I don't know how I missed this one, but I figured better late than never.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Family of Man

Our family is of mixed blood and I choose not to get into a discussion of just how “mixed” we are. That ultimately does not matter, We are who we are. The defining word is FAMILY and if you are murky of thought enough to step on the toes of one of my family members, I just may have to step back on yours (on your foot, not on your family members)! That is the essence of family .... we all hang together for survival purposes or we hang separately and do not survive. It seems to me that this credo is also a significant part of the foundation that underscores the United States of America. There is a viciousness of spirit afoot in these political times that frankly exemplifies a callousness of spirit …an inability to be in the least sensitive to the feelings of others, an inability to exhibit anything other than the ultimate selfishness, a totally ego driven monologue!

Homeless people ( and that could easily be you or me or almost anyone we know) are being arrested for being on the streets of many cities and yet, they have no place to go, One of my sons watched a police car (from a nearby small town) pull into the city and immediately pull over to the curb. From the bar separated back seat, a thin man with his pitiful belongings contained in a (what was once) an olive green military rucksack was put out of the car. The policeman executed an illegal u-turn and returned in the direction of his community of origin. His former passenger stood for a moment on the city sidewalk and then finally picked up his rucksack and trudged off in the general direction of one of the local homeless shelters. If he was hungry, he dare not be caught asking for food..if so…he would be arrested for illegal vagrancy in that particular urban jurisdiction. If he had no verifiable address, he could not even ask for food stamps or even a survival welfare payment…what could he do? This old fellow with the rucksack was not as lucky as the elderly man who stopped me one day as I came out of Arby’s in the down town area (of the same city) and asked, oh so quietly, if I had enough money to get him something to eat. Luckily on that day, I had a twenty in my jeans pocket which I handed to my son with the request that whatever the elder man wanted, would be purchased. To my surprise, the elder asked for only a child’s meal. Quietly I told him that he would have anything he wanted that he did not have to take the cheapest meal on the menu. Very gently he replied that this was all he needed…that he really couldn’t eat any more. He got his food, my son and I went our way as the elder man went his way. I have never seen him since that day but I often find myself wondering about him and wondering if I could have done more. He could so easily have been a member of my family or anyone else’s family. He belonged to sdomeone...aomewhere.

During the Great Depression ... a lone man came down the holler (hollow to you non Appalachians) to my grandparents house. He walked along the creek through the pasture and crossed the bridge between the hen house and the smoke house , then knocked on the kitchen door. My grandparents opened the door, invited him in and asked if he was hungry. They fed him from the family’s food that day and seated him at the kitchen table. He had only one other request. He’d noticed that the family had a barn and a hayloft. He had been sick for several days as he rode the freight train and he was tired. Could he sleep in the hay loft that night? It would be warm and safe and spring nights in the mountains can be cold. The grandparents agreed that this would be no problem and did he need a blanket or two. He stayed several days and nights but ... just never seemed to get any better. Finally, one fateful morning when Grampa went to carry him food, he found that the stranger had died during the night. The family elders gathered together and decided that they would treat him as a member of the family and if this being so…if ever a family member was lost and broke and far from home…maybe someone else would take them in. The old ones went to the top of the mountain to the family cemetery and dug his grave. They gathered everyone together to speak Words over the stranger and laid him in the ground near the great-grandparents. As a child, I often asked Granny who this stranger was. Her only reply was that they had never asked his name…they only knew that he needed help and they were willing to help. Every Decoration Day of my childhood Granny made sure that flowers were put on the stranger’s grave just like on the graves of the rest of the family.

The wealth of our family has always been in one another…not in dollars and coins. Granny was a giant at 4 feet 11 inches and her teachings have come down through the generations. Probably the most important lesson she taught us was to be civil with one another, to never deliberately try to inflict hurt (physical or emotional) on each other or on any other human being. That lady had no tolerance for bigotry (and she had very good reasons) or for intolerance. We didn’t have to agree with one another but we did have to think, to reason, to be civil with one another because after all, “God Doesn’t like UGLY!”

Arguments are not won by distorting the truth or by lying. You don’t spread rumor or innuendo and you don’t threaten bodily harm on one another. Another statement Granny used to say was “You are your brother’s keeper!” I never realized how unique her perceptions were and as a child I probably never valued her teachings as much as I do now. I am tired of these people who will not reach out a hand to help others, who think they are too good to help the homeless, or people without health insurance, or the poverty stricken mother with small children, or even the immigrant family who came to this country seeking a better life. Seems like I want to remind these folk that unless you are a person descended from the Native American standing on the shore watching the ships arrive…we are all immigrants illegal or legal! Did anyone’s ancestors ask the Native American for permission to settle here? I thought not!