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Up from the clothes chute

After deluge of disillusionment, a heart still hopes

Published May 7, 2006

There are some things in life we treasure, revere, respect and hope will never change. Things like the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the Washington Monument, our belief in democracy, our president, our national anthem, the institution of marriage, teachers and George Clooney's good looks.

Some of these will last for centuries, we hope. Others have already changed. But I was thinking the other day how our respect for certain institutions, people and things do change.

For instance, when I was younger, I looked up to banks. They were the epitome of what I respected.

When I would go into a bank, I was in awe of how quiet it was inside. People went about their business gathering their money or depositing it. No one spoke above a whisper, kind of like at a library. It was a place where you showed respect to each other and to those holding your hard-earned dollars.

I was so disillusioned the first time I saw an ad for my bank giving away china when someone opened an account. My mouth dropped open, and I couldn't believe this place that I held in respect would stoop so low as to offer dishes for an account.

That is when I started noticing that some things aren't quite what I would like them to be.

You might say that was the day I grew up. I was so upset that I took my few funds and went to another bank for them to hold my money for safekeeping. It wasn't long until that bank joined the ranks and all of them were giving away trinkets for new accounts. My world was shattered. I had lost my respect for banks.

It didn't take me long to get over the disappointment, but then other things started to change. Rock Hudson, the hunk of the era, wasn't really in love with Doris Day - or any woman, for that matter. That was devastating. Who could I believe in if I couldn't believe in Rock Hudson?

As a teacher, I thought my job was to enlighten, teach and mold children. Today I can't believe the number of women teachers who think it is more powerful to seduce little boys than to teach them. Not once did it pass my mind to have an affair with any of my sixth-graders, or for that matter, any little boy. So, again, I have become disillusioned.

Marriage was always a permanent deal. You married for better or worse, richer or poorer, or until death do you part. It wasn't a commitment that ended when you simply got tired of the other person. You grew up, fell in love, and got married. Then you had children. If the latter came first, there was a shotgun aimed at the man and the marriage took place whether anyone liked it or not.

Doctors used to be like gods. You would go into the office; they would tell what was wrong, and then they would tell you what to do. Today, doctors are too afraid of being sued. So, they send you from place to place until someone gives you the answer you want to hear. That's a real disillusionment.

We were taught in school that the early explorers were heroes who found a new world where people would come later and start the first democracy. These early explorers, we were taught, were gallant men, paving the way through uncharted lands.

Later I learned the truth. They came; they pillaged; they conquered, and they plundered. They weren't such heroes after all.

George Washington was our first president. I'm sure there were those who highly respected him and those who didn't like his politics very well. That's to be expected. But I never heard of any dalliances by good old George. I know all presidents are human, but Bill Clinton really took the respect out of the White House by having an affair in the Oval Office.

I know I used to believe in Santa Claus. I learned he wasn't real when I was about 6. That wasn't a real surprise, because my siblings and I used to find our presents hidden in a closet. But it was sad having to give up the illusion.

My grandmother was fond of saying, "Nothing lasts forever." I always thought that was a rather negative approach to life until I discovered there were some things you don't want to last forever, like bad colds, the flu, mosquito bites and sunburns. Then the saying meant sense.

But for the most part, we want those things that make us feel safe and secure to remain unchanged. But then again, nothing lasts forever. I hope the things that make our country great do last forever. I hope The Star-Spangled Banner will be sung centuries from now just like I know it today.

I hope democracy still prevails and eventually we learn what it really means to have free speech without stepping on others' toes or ruining the values that we cherish most dearly.

I used to stimulate my students' minds by asking them if they knew they were really here. I would go on and ask them, "What if you aren't really here? What if you just think you are, and this is all an illusion?"

They would stop and just look at me and then usually respond with, "It hurts when I pinch myself, so I must be here." My response would be, "How do you know it really hurts?"

They, of course, would respond, "I know I am here because I am here."

I hope they are right. I would hate to think that I've done all that gardening, paid all those bills, swept all those floors and written all these articles only to find out I haven't done them at all! Isn't the mind a wonderful thing?

I hope the human race does not stop thinking and creating. I hope what they create is for our betterment, not for the destruction of the good thing we have going.

Thought for the day: If I'm not really here, then just who is that woman living with my husband?

[Last modified May 7, 2006, 01:10:18]

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