A few thoughts to end the year

Monday, December 29, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:39 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

On the first day of winter, when a lot of folks are doing their final countdown to Christmas, I begin my countdown to the first day of spring. From this account you can see that I’m ending another year, exactly like I began it, with my name stamped in, on the minority opinion side of the ledger. So, I might as well go ahead and confess all of my digressions from popular opinions while I have a few days left on this year’s calendar.

First of all, I want to offer that I have no qualms about blaming my childhood for my attitudes on a variety of subjects. It seems like to me I was expected to take responsibility for my attitudes and behavior from birth. That’s why, I suppose, I would never be one to blame someone like Hugh Hefner for the country’s moral degeneration. Although I’m not a regular reader, I have occasionally read an issue or two of Playboy magazine, and I noticed a lot of the hullabaloo over its 50th anniversary. But I have to say that I’ve never taken Mr. Hefner’s lifestyle seriously enough to want to become a part of his company of cohorts — and certainly not as a young girl. I realize some people credit his influence for destroying the lives of many women and generally polluting the moral environment. In my view, it’s not Hefner’s fault that parents and teachers seldom seem able to win the battle against the media for the hearts and minds of young girls. It seems that uppermost in the minds of young adults these days is to, somehow, some way manage to make an appearance on national television. Many of them seem to feel it’s the only way to achieve worth in this society. And sexual permissiveness seems to be a sure way of grabbing the public’s attention. When people get tired of that, they’ll put a stop to it.

Another thing is, I’ve never thought our system of justice was perfect, but it was the best that I know about. At least it was before trial by television became an element in the legal process. I grew up believing people are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Now, I find people in charge of the justice system don’t seem to mind the barrage of pre-trial publicity these high-profile trials incur. It seems some people are barely accused of a crime before they become stars in a made-for-television movie. My problem with all this probably stems from the fact that I’ve always been able to entertain myself, and I’ve just never been titillated by other people’s troubles. I seem to have a natural tendency to hope for the best, and I’m not sure I want to lose that. There’s something significantly tragic about people who are constantly on the lookout for human failure in others. I can wait for the wheels of justice, even though they may grind slowly. The end product, I think, is closer to the mark.

When I was about 8 years old, I rejoined my family who had moved to the city. Housing was tight, and we had to live in an overcrowded neighborhood. I was always underweight, and when I started in the new school, I found myself the target of a lot of bullies. I spent the first few months fighting for my survival, before my classmates got the idea that I could hold my own on the playground. So, it’s probably honest to say that I have a deeply-rooted antipathy against bullies and people who throw their weight around. I find it cowardly when people are only willing to stand up for what they believe when they are in the majority. Walking away from certain fights, as far as I’m concerned, is a sign of strength, not weakness. I am opposed to teaching children that arrogance and bullying are the kind of attitudes that are needed to settle disputes. I am disappointed to find that more and more people seem to find these traits acceptable in their leadership.

I’m glad I learned compassion as a child. My family has always fed stray animals and people who were down on their luck. I have always found homelessness unacceptable, and those who are able to justify it ever amaze me. Aside from the immorality involved, it is unsound social policy to create and perpetuate an underclass. It is tantamount to trying to maintain a skyscraper that is standing on a corroding foundation. An underclass constitutes a threat to the health and welfare of society as a whole. Those who are unable to see that are the victims of limited vision.

Throughout the year, I’ve heard from many of my readers. Sometimes they agree with my opinions and sometimes they don’t. But the overwhelming majority of them seem to enjoy our quiet Monday morning conversations. Many have told me that they appreciate beginning their week on thoughtful note and it has been my sincere pleasure to share in the discussion.

As we step across the threshold into the year 2004, it is my hope that all of us will have a peaceful and bountiful new year. God Bless.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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