After the tragedy in Florida this week, everyone is looking for answers.
Here’s a simple one. One that won’t stop school shootings, but one which will make the world a better, kinder, safer place—for all.
If Congress wants to do something really important, they could do worse than discontinue President’s Day–and bring back Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday.
In these days where the values and lifestyle of Harvey Weinstein,, the Kardashians and Jay Z are being touted and followed on TV and in newspapers, we need to take a collective “time out.”
I feel so sad for today’s kids.
Nowadays, The 12th and 22nd of February are just two more days in a quirky month known mostly for Valentines (which are kinda yucky), and Leap Year which still doesn’t make sense to anyone.
Once, those days were filled with magic. Poems and essays were written, pictures were drawn and plays were performed acting out the heroic deeds committed by two giants, Washington and Lincoln, when they were children.
By the time we were six years old, we knew what every other grammar school child in America knew: Our 16th President was nicknamed, “Honest Abe.”
How did Honest Abe earn that moniker? Well, there were many variations but it revolved around him as a youth, working in a store. According to legend, he inadvertently, overcharged a woman three pennies. Did Abe go out and treat the gang to double bubble? No. Had they not heard it at home, my kids wouldn’t know that Abe walked 5 miles to return three cents (or was it three miles to return five cents?)
Honest Abe, Whatta guy!
By age six, I also knew that the Father of our country had once been just like me–a little boy who did something wrong and was caught.
What did little George do when his father asked him if he had chopped down the cherry tree? How many of today’s school children know that frightened little George looked his father in the eye, and replied, “Father, I cannot tell a lie. It was I who cut down the cherry tree.”
Dad’s response? The rod was spared, and so was Georgie’s backside. Though it met with varying degrees of success, there wasn’t a one of us who, as a kid, didn’t try that tactic on our own fathers.
The message was clear. There were a couple of things in it for you if you were honest.
One: people would like you so much that you could be elected to the highest office in the land. (It may be hard for people to fathom today, but until recently, all children actually wanted to grow up to be President).
Secondly: If you battle tyrants and fight for freedom, as Washington did. Or if you go to war to fight evils like slavery, as Lincoln, your reward will be the greatest reward any six year old can fathom—a Birthday Party!
And everybody in the country will come.
Think of the presents, to say nothing of the size of the cake. Definitely something to shoot for.
Unfortunately, a bunch of my contemporaries from the sixties, got wind of the fact that there was no “scientific proof” that Washington actually chopped down a cherry tree–let alone had a confrontation with his father that led to him sporting an early sense of moral righteousness. And then there was the messy issue of the fact that George Washington actually owned slaves, etc. ad naseum. That he eventually freed them never got him much credit.
Lincoln proved to be just as messy. Maybe he didn’t really grow up in a three sided log cabin, read by firelight, or ever walk five miles to return three cents.
And then of course there were the “facts” that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, and ordered the arrest of Kentucky legislators who were going vote for succession. Perhaps he suffered from melancholia, and may have gone to war as much for economic as well as moral reasons.
In today’s consciousness, neither Abe nor George is too politically correct. And there are countless dead souls out there who never tire of reminding us that they have the “historical facts”, to prove it. “Facts” miss the point.
These men were Giants.
Whether it is the awesome beauty of a sunset, the miracle of birth, the orderliness of our universe or a titanic blast off the bat of the Sultan of Swat, man has turned to myths–for myths contain the power and symbolism that allow us mortals to comprehend the comprehensible. Truth can actually be obfuscated by “facts”. The truth is that these men really were Huuuuuuuge—giants, indeed.
So, Mr. President, let’s once again give our kids something to shoot for.
Let’s re-institute two of the finest birthday parties that anyone ever celebrated. Let’s put a premium on honesty and character.
It will be the finest anecdote to the pop culture worship one could come up with.
Let’s teach them a higher truth–that we honor greatness, virtue and character far more than we honor mediocrity, apathy, self-gain—to say nothing of drug abuse, promiscuity, having children out of wedlock etc.
With a couple of ideals to shoot for, who knows what affect if may have. If the antics of Kapernick and Snoop Dog can influence a generation, think what the actions of real giants could accomplish?
I Know. This alone won’t end school shootings, but it will go a long way to giving children something else to shoot for—besides death and destruction