Wanted: a hero to restore hope

Monday, June 14, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:14 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

Like many people, I had hoped Smarty Jones would win the Triple Crown. I’m not a great horse racing fan, I’m just desperate to have something wonderful happen that Americans could share. Obviously, I’d rather hear an announcement that a cure has been found for cancer or AIDS, but since nothing that spectacular seems imminent, I would have settled for a big win at the track.

I think we are in need of one, genuine, authentic hero we can all salute. We need to have one whose heroic deeds we all witness with our own eyes. We’re worn out with pseudo-heroes that, somehow, never pan out to equal their press agents’ accounts of their triumphs. I’ve gotten to the point where I tend to mistrust almost everything I hear on television. And with so much confusion going on about this war in Iraq, it’s hard to tell the winners from the losers.

The same is true for the economy. We hear about thousands being recently employed, however the number of unemployed remains consistent. Is there something we are not being told? Are we to assume about every issue that the truth lies somewhere between the Republican’s and the Democrat’s versions? At one time we could depend on the national media to come through with the facts. Now we have to sort through their various versions. I recently heard a woman explain that she listens to the overseas press because they avoid the use of ‘us’ and ‘them’ in their news coverage. Hmm, remember when?

With our culture changing so rapidly, it probably won’t be long before we stop expecting things to be what others claim. I think people are losing more hope and faith every day. It seems eons ago to me when my mother assured me that certain name brand products I purchased would last for years. When I set up housekeeping, I took her advice, and my sewing machine, vacuum cleaner and washing machine churned away year after year. Today, I can’t think of one single product that I can count on not needing repair within the first few months.

The same was once true of certain businesses. When I was growing up, we always dealt with the same people. We always used the same insurance salesman, bought meat from the same butcher, and the same farmer’s wife delivered our fresh, country eggs. We could trust these people and depend on them to keep their word. It doesn’t seem to matter whom you deal with these days, nothing seems to turn out like it’s supposed to. Since nothing seems to improve with all this outsourcing, we have to believe it’s not the workers who are responsible, but business practices and policies.

I’m aware that there are many zealous religious groups concerned about the salvation of American souls. I wish someone would get equally concerned about the state of our minds. We have got to realize that our country is in serious trouble. We’re virtually at a stalemate on every issue. We need to find some common ground. We cease to be a democratic republic whenever our leaders act without the consent of the governed. Under the present circumstances, how are we to determine what the consent of the populace is? The national polls show us one thing today and another tomorrow. Forgive a Midwestern columnist from the state of Harry Truman for asking the question — is this anyway to run a country that bills itself as the leader of the free world?

There are times when I believe our leaders would be relieved if the electorate would demand that they end the political bickering and make some rational decisions about where they are taking this country. Folks, we need an exit strategy, not just for the war in Iraq, but for the war at home. We need to begin to put the pieces in place for a secure and productive country to hand over to future generations.

Neocons, liberals and middle-of-the-roaders aside, it is to parents that the responsibility was given for the upbringing of children. And it will be the parents who the children will hold responsible for the kind of world they inherit. And that is rightly so.

Those of us who grew up in a secure, orderly, literate, compassionate environment should always remember that this was not caused by the luck. Good parents took their tasks to heart and tried to create a world where their children could grow up to function in meaningful and productive ways to maintain a positive society, built on high standards for other generations to follow.

I hope that our generation will be remembered kindly by historians. Realistically, though, unless we take some creative steps toward improving our position, we will probably be designated as the ones who inherited it all and threw it all away for no good reason.

Hopefully, the fat lady will wait around awhile before she sings.

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

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